AN ANCIENT ring hailed 'the find of a lifetime' could sell for £15,000 when it is sold at auction today.

The treasure, which dates back to between the late 16th century and early 18th century, was discovered by 64-year-old Paul Wood in Bampton, near Witney, in 2016.

According to Mr Wood's research, the ring's elaborate coat of arms and crest is believed to represent the Skynner family, who were important in Bampton for hundreds of years from the 13th century.

It will go under the hammer at Hanson's Auctioneers, Derbyshire, and is expected to sell for between £12,000 and £15,000.

James Brenchley, Hansons’ head of antiquities, ancient art and classical coins, revealed the ring would have belonged to a wealthy individual and explained its significance.

He said: “It really is once in a lifetime, you just don’t find this sort of product.

“It’s very common to find small Roman coins, but to find a ring in this condition is very rare.

“It’s a wonderful find and, due to it being rather small, may have belonged to a lady."

He added: “We’ve had so much interest in the product."

Mr Wood, from Dorset, has been metal detecting since the mid-1970s and found the ring while exploring land with the Metal Detectives Group.

Its coat of arms features a chevron decorated with small dots between three birds’ heads, while above the shield another bird’s head rising from a battlement.

There was great excitement around Mr Wood's find and it was even named the group's ‘Artefact of the Year’.

Mark Becher, who runs the group from Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, said: “But for Paul, that ring, which is steeped in history and worth thousands of pounds, could have been lost forever. When Paul found it, he was so excited – we all were. We knew it was special.

"It’s a high-end object that would have belonged to a person of wealth and importance. It demonstrates craftsmanship, skill, detail and definition.

"Gold comes out of the ground exactly as it goes in.”