A pensioner from Aylesbury found a medieval gold ring belonging to a former Prime Minister alongside other treasures while trying out a new metal detector on local farmland. 

An 85-year-old metal detectorist with five decades of experience under his belt uncovered a haul of historic artefacts while testing out a new machine in a muddy field near his home last May.

Tom Clark first discovered a Roman bronze coin, then, three paces on, a Georgian gilded broach. A further three metres away, the machine signalled again, and the 85-year-old dug up what appeared to be a medieval gold seal ring.

A closer inspection revealed the name ‘Grenvil’ on the ring’s edges, and its finder quickly linked it with one of the ancestral surnames of a nearby manor house – that of George Grenville, British Prime Minister between 1763 and 1765.

Bucks Free Press:

One year on, the gold seal ring is scheduled to be auctioned off by the London auction house Noonans in Mayfair on June 11, where it is estimated to fetch between £6,000 and £8,000.

Mr Clark said he had been metal detecting on land in Aylesbury since he was in his 30s and had stumbled upon treasures including a Bronze Age gold armlet and a Roman lead coffin in his years of hunting.

The 85-year-old, who worked as a manufacturer of leather crafts before his retirement, will receive half of the sale proceeds, with the other half going to the landowner.

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Nigel Mills, Artefact and Coin expert at Noonans described the ring, which dates back to the 18th century, as a “truly exciting discovery”.

He said it appeared to have been handed down from Grenville to his son, also named George, who lived near its discovery spot in Aylesbury before presumably becoming a family heirloom and passing between father and son until it was left hidden in the ground prior to last May. 

Adding: “The arms on the bezel of the ring are those of Grenville, of Wotton Underwood and of Stowe in the county of Buckinghamshire. This is a shield quartered with a central cross bearing five roundels, a helmet placed above the shield has a crest of a sheaf of corn, and an inscription around reads ‘Sigillum Georg de grenvil’ (seal of George Grenville).”

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Mr Grenville, who served as Prime Minister over 250 years ago, is known for trying to reduce Britain’s debt by raising revenue in the American colonies by introducing the Sugar Act, the Currency Act and the Stamp Act.

These new laws, especially the Stamp Act, were strongly objected to by colonists and resulted in Grenville being dismissed from office by King George III.

Concern about the taxation imposed by Grenville ultimately helped to provoke the American Revolutionary War of 1775 to 1783.