400-year-old ring buried in grounds of Staffordshire house during family feud set to fetch £30,000 at auction


A gold ring thought to be 400-years-old and found buried in the grounds of a Staffordshire house is set to fetch £30,000 at auction.

The ring is believed to have been buried in the grounds of Castern Hall, an 18th-century country house, also known as Casterne, near Ilam in the Manifold Valley during a family feud.

It was discovered by a 64-year-old North Derbyshire metal detectorist in 2018 who is now likely to net himself a small fortune from the find.

The 17th century ring – which dates back to between 1600 and 1650 – is set with a purple-blue Chalcedony gemstone carved with the initials ‘GL’ and three candles.

It is expected to fetch £25,000- £30,000.

Although mystery still surrounds how the relic came to be buried underneath a large stone in the grounds of the Grade II-listed Georgian manor house, it is thought to have been deliberately concealed hundreds of years ago.

Experts believe it could have been hidden away during a bitter family dispute over a will following the death of one of Castern Hall’s previous owners in 1690.

Castern Hall in the Peak District

The finder, who does not want to be named, has been metal detecting for more than 40 years and lives in North Derbyshire.

The retired fishmonger said: “This is the best and most important find I’ve ever made.

“I got a strong signal and started digging down but hit a large, round flat stone. When I lifted it up, I found the mammoth gemstone.

“I discovered it three years ago in February 2018 and it’s been at the British Museum for most of the time since.

“It would have been made for an extremely wealthy and sizeable man because the ring itself is unusually large.”

The property has been used as a filming location for movies such as Jane Eyre, Sherlock Holmes: The Hound of the Baskervilles and Jonathan Creek.

Castern Hall has been home to the Hurt family since the 16th century and once featured in Agatha Christie’s Poirot in the episode ‘The Mystery of Hunter’s Lodge’.

Family records have identified the ring’s owner as possibly being Geoffrey Lowe, who died in 1637.

The ring will be sold by Hansons Auctioneers in Etwall, Derbys., on Thursday.

Adam Staples, Hansons’ valuer and a renowned metal detectorist, said: “We suspect the ring may have been buried on purpose as it was found hidden under a large round stone, making it buried treasure, rather than a ring that simply fell off someone’s finger.

“One theory is that the ring was passed down to Elizabeth by her uncle John Lowe, who she nursed on his deathbed, and was hidden during a dispute over John’s will following his death in 1690.

“There are legends about buried treasure at Castern Hall and it could be that the ring was left there on purpose hundreds of years ago.

“The legends of buried treasure were sparked because vicious family disputes began to rage within minutes of the death of John Lowe.

“Elizabeth inherited the Alderwasley estate from John but had to fight her other uncles in court before she could live there.

“It’s thought the ring and other valuables were moved to Castern and hidden whilst the matter was being settled.

“The ring itself is an astonishing size. It’s too big for my thumb but may have been worn over a glove.

“I’ve done a huge amount of research, with help from the Hurt family, to try to work out who the ring belonged to. It’s a rather mysterious but wonderful find.”

Any proceeds from the sale of the ring will be split between the landowner and the finder.

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