TREASURE hunter Billy Vaughan has struck gold after digging up a Bronze Age bracelet worth up to £100,000.
Care worker Billy only took up metal detecting as a hobby six months ago but has already scooped the find of a lifetime.
The solid arm torc is 22-carat gold, weighs 11 ounces and is thought to be up to 4,000 years old.
But when Billy made the discovery in Whitehaven, Cumbria, he almost dismissed it as an old piece of climbing equipment.
He said: “I dug it up, put it in my bag and thought nowt of it. I figured it was one of those clips mountain climbers use.
“I never believed it was gold, particularly because it was only five inches below the surface.”
Billy, who cares for people with challenging behaviour and dementia, only decided to start metal detecting to help him relax.
FIND OF A LIFETIME
He added: “I was happy finding buttons or the odd silver coin but this was unreal.”
As the gold bracelet is more than 300 years old, Billy has had to report his finding to the Museum Of Lancashire.
If it is officially classed as treasure, it is likely to end up being displayed in the British Museum in London.
A similar one from the Iron Age, so not as old, sold for £50,000 in 2010 at Spink auctioneers in London.
Lydia Prosser, finds liaison officer at the Museum Of Lancashire, believes the torc could have originated from Ireland.
She said: “The latest thinking is it was brought over, or traded, in Ireland. That may place it as late Bronze Age, around 1800BC.”
Billy has also unearthed a collection of gold and silver sovereign coins, dating as far back as 1864, since taking up his new hobby.
He found his Torc using a Garrett Ace 250 metal detector, which costs £190 new.