One day last month we were back out detecting on one of Bob’s permissions about half an hours drive from where I live. It is only a small permission basically three fields of about 9 acres in total. This was our third visit here and it was a spur of the moment decision whether to detect this one or another one in the same area. Previously we had found a few pre decimal copper coins and buttons and a couple of other things, but nothing particularly interesting.

On this particular day we parked up as usual and wandered down the lane to say hello to the landowner and then climbed over the gate to set up our metal detecting equipment.

We decided to detect from the gate out into the middle of the first field and although we had been over this field before we were still getting signals that were worth digging. Again we were finding the odd button and pre decimal copper coins as well as the usual pieces of scrap metal.

We were detecting maybe 30 metres apart from each other when I came across a decent signal, I dug out a small plug of turf and flipped it over, then checked with my detector to see if it was still in the hole, it was.

I then used my hand held pinpointer to work out where whatever it was, was. My pinpointer found it somewhere just below the soil at the bottom of the hole, so I used my diiging tool to gently loosen the soil in the area, being careful to keep the sharp point away from the object. I lifted out the loosened soil with my hand and checked with the pinpointer and yes the item was now out and in my hand. I discarded the loose bits of soil until I was left with a ragged clump of soil in my hand which I gently prised apart with my thumb and forefinger. I then caught sight of something ring like amongst the soil. It was quite bright, but coppery bright, was it just a bright copper plumbing olive? As i gently brushed the soil away from it, it became clear that this was a finger ring, and a signet ring, but was it copper, or could it really be gold?

I tried not to raise my hopes too much, but I was thinking, surely a signet ring wouldn’t be made from copper and the more I looked the more I became sure that it was gold. Now bearing in mind that we were less than 30 minutes in to our detecting I was a little stunned to realise that I was very probably holding a gold ring in my hand. I called over to Bob “bob! You aren’t going to believe this!”, “what is it?” he replied. I just said “I’m dancing!”. He knew exactly what I meant and hurried over to see what it was. He had that look on his face when he knows that I have found something good. A combination of pleasure and pain, he had passed by this same spot, just to one side only minutes before. I dropped the ring into his outstretched hand, he could barely believe it.

Above is almost the exact spot where the ring was found in a photo taken a few weeks earlier. Who was to know that just a metre or so from here lay a gold ring waiting to be found.

I always feel a little bit sad an wistful about finding jewellery because they must have meant so much to the original owner, who lost it. Was it a gift from a wife to a husband, or vice versa, or maybe a gift from a parent to a child.

The current land owner has only lived here for a short period of time so I decided to clean the ring up and to do some research on the initials to see if I could trace the family of the person that owned the ring.

Once the ring was cleaned up the first thing I needed to do was to see the hallmarks, to get a date on the ring. I knew it wasn’t that old, so there were likely to be descendants of the owner who were still alive. The date was 1911.

Next I needed to try to decipher the initials on the ring. There were three of them, it was only during my research that I found out that on a three initial signet ring the middle initial was usually the surname. Then the initials on either side were the either the first name and middle name initials, or a husband and wife’s first name initials.

The next job was to look at the history of the land to see who owned at around the time that the ring was made, and then compare it to the initials on the ring. To me the initials look like DWT, so on that basis the surname begins with a W and it is either first name second name a DT, or a husband and wife with first names starting with D and T.

I went back to the 1911 census to see if anyone with a surname beginning with W lived there then, but the family name began with a B, so I moved forward to the 1939 register, because the ring could have been lost years after it was made, but the B family were still there. I looked at neighbours but there names began with S and M. So here I am a month later with no further clue who lost it.

Of course it could just have been a worker, or someone taking a walk through the field. I might never know, and might not ever find a descendant to return it to, but I haven’t given up, every so often I have another dig about to see if I can find a clue. A family of farmers down the road have a name beginning with W, so my next job is to see if I can find a match to the other letters on the ring to that family.