TREASURE hunters could be in for a payday after historic artefacts they dug up were declared treasure.

One of the lots was a 332-year-old mourning ring inscribed with the initials of a dead loved one.

Head coroner for Oxfordshire Darren Salter gave the rulings at a treasure inquest on Thursday.

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His job was to declare whether the items were treasure or not, using information given by the finds liaison officer for Oxfordshire County Council, Anni Byard.

His ruling means that the items now effectively belong to the public and are likely to be exhibited.

If they are bought by a museum then the money will be split between the finder and the landowner.

Other items to be declared treasure included a gold wired bead, rings and a pyramid – thought to be used to protect the tip of a soldier's sword.

They were all discovered by hunters armed with metal detectors in areas including Cumnor, Charlton and Stanton St John.

The ring, the only lot with a specific date, was found by Peter Layton, from Bracknell, during a club dig at land in Shilton near Carterton.

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The discovery was made in October 2017 but its significance was not realised until March 2018 when it was reported.

Ms Byard, who examined the ring, said it was a traditional mourning ring used to commemorate the death of a loved one.

The script which reads ‘JP Arm 03 June 29 1688’ can be roughly translated as the initials of the dead person, the word ‘Armature’ and the date they died.

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The gold ring, which has diagonal lines carved out of it, has been misshapen over the years.

Another object of note declared treasure was a silver gilt dress pin found near West Hendred by Gavin Mason, from Didcot.

He reported the find in August 2017, soon after he found it.

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The pin itself is 61mm long and has a small bead at the top with six smaller dots.

Ms Byard said that it had some precious metal content and it dates back to the medieval period which is enough to qualify it as treasure.

It is also ‘quite common’ and there was a lot of similar ones which have been found.

Another item bought before Mr Salter was the silver pyramidal mount, found in Charlton-on-Otmoor near Bicester by Steve Kowell from Upper Arncott , a few miles away, in September 2018.

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He was out metal detecting when he came across the unusual find.

Ms Byard’s report said that even though the exact function is unknown, it is thought the mound was likely to be from the medieval period when it was probably used on a belt for the tip of a sword.

Its square base is 18mm in length and width and it weighs about 6.5g.

It has patterns on each face and on the base has a hook – which would have clipped onto a belt or sword.

Another item discovered a silver ring. Again, this item is thought to date back to the medieval period but was declared in September 2017 by Kidlington resident James Whilersby.

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He found it when he was out using a metal detector on land in Stanton St John in August that year.

Ms Byard's report said that even though the ring was ‘incomplete’ and had been cut or broken, it could still be dated back to the 12th century.

The silver ring has about six flag-like drawings carved out into it and is about 3cm long.

The final item was a six-sided gold tapered bead from the Anglo Saxon period.

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It was found by Paul Hill from Hungerford on February 5, 2018, on cultivated land in Cumnor.

Ms Byard explained that the bead was used for a necklace and was tapered into a small V shape.

It has a hole for threading, like a traditional bead used in jewellery-making today.

It is made out of wire and is scored with lines.

The report said: “It has a minimum of 10 per cent gold in it so it qualifies as treasure.”

Now, if any of Oxfordshire's museums are interested in the treasure, the Treasure Valuation Committee will price up the items and work out who is entitled to a share.