On a typical day, many metal detector hobbyists go home empty-handed, maybe collecting and throwing away some trash. But for David Board, 69, it wasn’t a typical day.
Board was about to wrap up for the day when his metal detector picked something up in a field in Dorset, a county in southwestern England. He retrieved an object buried about five inches underground. After fishing it out of the mud and taking it home, he washed it off.
That’s when he realized what he’d found: a gold and diamond ring in near perfect condition.
Board spent some time as a hobbyist back in the ’70s. But when he found the ring, he was on only his second outing since picking metal detecting back up in 2019. Now, the ring is going up for auction at Noonans, where it is estimated to bring in as much as $47,000.
“Back then, each ring was individual and unique, not mass produced like today. It’s stunning,” Board tells CNN Style’s Issy Ronald and Hafsa Khalil. He calls the ring a “once in a lifetime” discovery.
After the ring was unearthed, it went to the British Museum to be dated and authenticated. Experts then researched the history of the land where it was found. Using this information, they were able to identify the ring’s age—as well as its owners. It may have been the wedding ring that Sir Thomas Brook, a wealthy man whose family owned the land, gave to his wife, Lady Joan Brook, when they married in 1388, according to a statement from Noonans.
Two intertwining bands make up the ring’s outer circle, symbolizing two lives fusing together. Inside the band, an inscription in French reads “Ieo vos tien foi tenes le moy,” which translates to, “I hold your faith, hold mine.”
“Although the knightly chivalric code dates to the 12th century, the notion of chivalric and courtly love really hit its peak in the 14th and 15th centuries,” writes the auction house. The influence of such ideas can “be seen reflected in jewels, the ring offered here for sale being a fine example.”
In the past few years, other amateur metal detectorists in England have identified rare and valuable artifacts: A teenager in Hertfordshire discovered a bronze ax dating back to around 1300 B.C.E. An anonymous hobbyist found a 13th-century gold coin on farmland in Devon. In a farmer’s field in Norfolk, a retired scientist unearthed a 14th-century gold coin.
As for Board? Per CNN, he now goes out with his metal detector about three times a week, looking for his next great find.