From the Manchester Evening News:

AN ancient Roman gold ring, supposedly found in a farmer's field, is at the centre of a police investigation after it emerged the relic had been sold on the internet just weeks earlier.

Amateur treasure hunters Colin Hilton and Gary Moore claimed to have found the 2,000-year-old trinket buried six inches under the surface of a field.

But a hearing in Oldham was dramatically halted after evidence was produced to suggest that the treasure had previously appeared on the internet auction site eBay and been sold for 42.23, plus 1.85 postage and packing.

Coroner Simon Nelson adjourned the case to allow police to investigate whether a fraud had been committed.

The two treasure hunters, aged in their early twenties, had claimed they found the ring - confirmed by experts to be a Roman finger ring dating from the first or second century - while using metal detectors in a field near Daisy Nook Country Park, Failsworth, last November.


Anyone who finds an archaeological treasure is legally obliged to inform the local coroner within 14 days and the item is analysed by British Museum experts who decide if it should be added to the national collection, making the finder and owner of the land eligible for a reward.

Coroner Mr Nelson revealed evidence in court that the same ring had been listed for sale on eBay about two weeks before it had supposedly been found in the Oldham field.

Mr Nelson told the hearing: "Given that this item was clearly bought and sold on eBay prior to the date it was found I am not satisfied that a criminal act has not been committed. Therefore I am proposing to involve Greater Manchester Police.

"I know from the British Museum that this case is unique. This is the first circumstance of this type nationwide."

After the inquest was adjourned, Mr Hilton said: "I didn't want to make money or get in the papers.

"I did everything according to the law and look what I got for my troubles."

He claimed that someone he knows has since admitted hiding the ring in the field as a prank, hoping he would find it.

He added: "I know exactly who it is. I've known him half my life and he admitted it. He thought it would be a right laugh."