Paul Raynard, 44, and best friend Michael Gwynne, 52, were on a short holiday when they were asked to help look for a wedding ring a farmer had lost working.
The pair began their search but were starting to lose hope when they only dug up a horseshoe and a 50p coin. But after an hour-and-a-half trawling the vast land, they struck gold with what experts say could be the biggest haul ever found in Ireland and worth hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Paul “broke down in tears” when he and Michael stumbled across their very own pot of gold on October 29. They found a cluster of 84 coins dating back to the 1500s in a field near Ballycastle, Northern Ireland. One of the hoard – an ultra-rare Henry VIII coin – is estimated to be worth £5,000 on its own, experts have told Paul. He added other coins – such as one dated 1546, when the famed boy king Edward VI reigned – could be worth up to £3,000.
Speaking of the moment he found the treasure, Paul, from Keighley, Yorkshire, said: “I jumped up and down and ran down the field in tears to find Michael. It’s something I have dreamed of finding since I was a kid. It was an amazing feeling. It’s like checking your lottery numbers and realising you’ve hit the jackpot.
“I saw one or two coins at first but had no idea of the size of the hoard to begin with. I went to fetch Michael who was across the field so we could share the moment together. I was shaking, I still can’t believe it now.”
Video footage of the moment Paul and Michael dig up the underground treasure shows them pulling one muddy coin after another from beneath the soil.
The coins have been sent to Ulster Museum for official identification and valuation by a team of experts. It will take several months for the 84 coins to be valued in full but Paul said other experts told him the whole hoard could be worth more than £100,000.
Paul said he and his business partner, Michael, usually study old maps looking out for signs of ancient settlements or battlegrounds where hoards may be buried.
He said: “We had just come back from a busy business trip to China and Michael said he knew of a nice little place we could go to in Ireland for us to take our detectors. But we only went to that field to try to find his mate’s wedding ring. We didn’t find the ring and had only been there a couple of hours when we found the coins. I dug a small hole and there they were. I just could not believe it.”
Paul has been interested in metal detecting since aged seven when his parents bought him a treasure island book as a present.
He took his hobby seriously at the age of 35 and bought a £600 metal detector, capable of picking up gold and silver items buried up to 4ft below ground.
The coins are Paul’s most significant find and he has described it as a “once in a lifetime” discovery, Metro UK reports. Their value will be split equally between Paul and the landowner if they choose to sell the coins on for cash, following the completion of the valuation process.