A County Durham metal detectorist has struck gold after unearthing a rare Portuguese coin which has been valued at between £20,000-£30,000.
Mick Edwards, a civil servant from Peterlee, was in Wiltshire on 5 July with his wife celebrating their 35th wedding anniversary.
He was searching in a pasture field close to where they were staying in Etchilhampton when he made the discovery at about 6am.
Mr Edwards, 62, said: "So far I had only found some broken crotal bells, so I walked to the top of the field for a final effort before breakfast, taking just three more steps I received a clear signal which sounded like a large copper coin.”
After digging ten inches without finding anything, Mr Edwards used his pin-pointer probe to locate the signal and saw the edge of a coin at the bottom of the hole.
To his astonishment, he pulled out a huge gold coin 36 millimetres in diameter and weighing over 35 grams.
He added: “I was dumbstruck and just sat looking at the coin unable even to breathe.
"I could see the cross on the coin and thought it was probably Spanish but later found out it was Portuguese from the king's name Manuel.”
The coin is a 10 Cruzados piece from the reign of Manuel I (1495-1521) and struck at Lisbon with gold recovered by Vasco de Gama from his voyages to Africa and India.
It is the first to ever be found in Britain and has an estimated value of £20,000-30,000.
Consultant Nigel Mills said: “The coin features the crowned royal arms of Portugal on the obverse with the cross of the order of Christ on the reverse with the latin legend translated ‘In this sign shall we conquer,’ with a test punch on the reverse.
"In England at this time the largest gold coin was a Sovereign which weighed 15.3 grams so this coin is more than double that in weight, so would have had a value greater than two pounds.”
It will be sold by Mayfair auctioneers Noonans on Thursday 29 September.
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