A man who ignored his wife’s request to bin a dirty piece of metal he found in a field has been toasting his instincts after it was declared to be a rare silver Viking ring.
Instead of throwing away the dirt-encrusted object, David Taylor from Co Down, Northern Ireland gave it a good wash and phoned the nearest museum to ask advice.
Almost 18 months on, the grimy object he spotted lying on a stone in his brother-in-law Andrew Coulter’s freshly ploughed field near Kircubbin on the Ards peninsula was today officially ruled to be treasure.
Mr Taylor, who was helping Mr Coulter remove stones from the field at the Inishargy Road, said he was glad he did not listen to his wife Lynda.
“She thought it was a bull ring and said ’throw that in the bin’,” he laughed after the ruling at a special treasure trove inquest hearing at Belfast coroner’s court.
“I just knew by the shape of it, it was something.”
The bracelet-shaped artefact, which has been dated back to between 950 – 1100 AD, will now go for valuation by experts at the UK Treasure Valuation Committee.
Thought to have originated in Shetland or the Orkney isles – which were then ruled by Viking leaders including the sinisterly named Thorfinn the Skull Splitter – such finds are rare in Ireland.
As well as a piece of jewellery, experts believe it was also used as an early form of currency before a coinage system became widespread in Viking cultures.
At almost 45 grams, it is close to the weight of two Viking ounces.
John Sheehan, archaeologist from University College Cork, told coroner Suzanne Anderson that the field where the ring was found lay close to the remains of a medieval church.
He explained that religious sites were often used as a storage place for valuable items.
With clashes between Viking settlers and native Irish commonplace, the expert suggested the ring may have been taken out of Scandinavian hands.
“Maybe it fell into Irish hands and as a result of that ended up deposited for safe-keeping at a church site but then got lost,” he said.
As well as feeling vindicated for not chucking the ring, Mr Taylor was also thankful that he decided to help out his brother-in-law on the evening of the find in April last year.
“The night I went to help Andy lift the stones, he says ’nobody ever helps me lift stones’,” he said.