A METAL detecting enthusiast uncovered a 700-year-old gold ring during an early morning hunt in a farmer’s field in Houghton Green.

Patricia Richmond discovered the medieval ring during a hunt in land near Peel Hall Farm in October.

On Wednesday June 29, a treasure trove inquest at Warrington Coroner’s Court determined that the ring probably dated back to the 14th century.

The 59-year-old and her metal detecting partner Stuart Bibby arrived at the farmer’s field at around 6am on October 20 and after less than an hour Ms Richmond had made the astonishing find.

She said: “The field had just had potatoes taken out the night before so we spoke to the farmer’s father who said they were going to plough it, so we went really early before they were ready to start ploughing.

“As luck would have it I found the ring.

“I was very calm actually – I just don’t get excited, I’d have a heart attack otherwise.

“It’s an exciting hobby because you don’t know with every beep what you’re going to dig up, although you do get a lot of rubbish.

“Trying to figure out who would have worn a ring like that at that time is interesting as well – it’s going to be someone who was a wealthy merchant’s wife or something.”

The Wigan resident has been metal detecting for the last five years, it having been a hobby for her for two years in the 1970s – Ms Richmond’s biggest find up till now had been old coins.

Mr Bibby, 50, added: “That ring is about 700 years old so it survived for nearly a millennium in that field.

“It’s a good area – all places have their historical points but that seems to be a nice little area with Roman activity.

“It could have been found anywhere – it just happened to get lost there.

“To dig that out the ground is incredibly lucky.”

After Ms Richmond found the ring it was sent to Stuart Noon, finds liaison officer at the Museum of Lancashire, who estimated that the ring dated back to between 1,300-1,400AD.

Its primary material is gold with an inset oval stone that could potentially be a sapphire.

The ring, which measures 15x20mm and weighs 3.26g, has seven convex settings in its bezel to hold the stone and a decorated flower inscribed into an integral square plate on either side of the hoop.

No makers mark was discovered on the ring.

The inquest was held to determine whether the item should be classified as treasure, and the assistant coroner for Cheshire Alan Moore described the ring as a ‘lovely piece’.

He added: “It’s probably surprising to have a coroner’s hearing involving treasure – it’s an unusual law that goes back several hundreds of years that says it is the coroner who adjudicates on treasure findings.”

Mr Moore concluded that the ring represented treasure as it was more than 300 years old and had a precious metal content exceeding 10 per cent.

As yet it is unknown what will happen next to the ring, but Warrington Museum has expressed an interest in housing it.