A METAL detectorist has struck gold after finding a Bronze Age bracelet which could be worth thousands of pounds.

Billy Vaughan, 54, made the discovery of a lifetime in a field near Whitehaven.

He had only taken up the hobby eight months ago so was stunned to come across the 22-carat gold band.

“I was gobsmacked”, he said. “I nearly threw it away. We don’t find gold in Whitehaven.”

Mr Vaughan, a care worker, took the bracelet to a jeweller in Keswick who said it had a market value of £11,000. With the added historical significance it is estimated to be worth considerably more.

He then took it to The Beacon Museum in Whitehaven - where he says he would like the bracelet to eventually be displayed - before passing it on to the finds liaison officer for Cumbria and Lancashire.

It is now with the British Museum and could take up to two years to be assessed.

Mr Vaughan said he originally thought the solid gold band, uncovered five inches beneath the ground, was a part from a hang glider.

The keen treasure hunter said: “I had been in that field a hundred times. I spend six or seven hours there.

“I don’t even know what gold looks like when it comes out the ground. I showed my sister and said it can’t be gold and threw it across the patio.”

After showing his friend, who is also a metal detectorist,

they posted photos of the bracelet on a specialist online forum, where enthusiasts estimated it could date back thousands of years.

By law, finders of potential treasure must legally notify their local coroner.

HM Coroner’s Service in Cumbria confirmed they had received a report of a bracelet or arm ring being found in the area, and that it was now being assessed by the British Museum.

An inquest will determine whether the find is treasure. If the coroner rules it is, the finder must offer it for sale to a museum. A reward is then shared between the finder and landowner.

In the meantime, Mr Vaughan is still on the lookout for hidden treasure.

“It’s an addiction. I’m just into it now.”