A DISPUTE has arisen between a metal detectorist and a group of Hampshire land owners after a gold Bronze Age bracelet was found.

Metal detectorist Geoffrey Slingsby, 76, from Waltham Chase, has unearthed so many items over the years he is known as 'Jammy Geoff' to British Museum staff.

Winchester Coroners Court heard that a gold Bronze Age armlet or bracelet was found on April 23 2016 at a site in Soberton in the Meon Valley.

The problem arose when the landowners of his latest find were not all agreed as to whether Mr Slingsby had permission to detect on their land or not and whether he has a right to the money given as compensation for the bracelet being declared treasure.

If an artefact is declared to be 'treasure' according to the 1996 Treasure Act the finder must offer the item for sale to a museum at a price set by an independent board of antiquities experts. Only if a museum expresses no interest in the item, or is unable to purchase it, can the finder retain it.

To be declared 'treasure' an artefact must be over 300-years-old, have more than 10% precious metal, and if they are coins there must be more than one in the find.

The detectorist Mr Slingsby asked for permission to detect the land from the tenant farmers however he was not aware at the time that they were just tenants. He was then told that a neighbour was the land owner and she gave permission.

The land in fact belongs to three people jointly, Ann Jordan from Guildford, her niece Deborah Stefek from New Zealand and her nephew Alan Richards from Portchester.

At the hearing the three landowners were represented by Ann’s sister and mother of Deborah and Alan, Phylis Jordan and her husband who are from Petersfield.

A report by Katie Hinds, Hampshire Finds Liaison Officer was made which said that the armlet is 84% gold, weighs 121 grams and is likely to be from the mid to late Bronze Age, approximately from 1150 to 800 BC.

The senior coroner Grahame Short ruled that the armlet should be declared treasure but he would not apportion ownership, saying that was for the parties involved to settle.

Hampshire Cultural Trust has declared an interest in purchasing the find.

After the hearing Mr Slingsby a committed Christian says that he has given all money made from his finds, amounting to several thousand, to his church the West End Community Church which has just spent four million pounds on a new building.

Over the years he has found a gold medieval wedding ring, a Saxon belt strap end, an Elizabethan gold ring as well as a broken Bronze Age torc.

Of his find Mr Slingsby said: “It’s just a hobby, it’s no big deal, a bit of fun. I like getting the artefacts into the museums. The rings are in museums and this armlet will end up in one too.”

As to the dispute he said: “I had full permission from the tenant farmer. It should be shared 50/50 between the landowner and the finder. I won’t be detecting on that land again.”