HAMPSHIRE is one of the country's best spots for buried treasure, with fortune hunters and hobbyists making hundreds of discoveries in recent years.

The British Museum says the scale of artefacts unearthed across the country exceeds expectations, with reported finds showing "little sign of dipping anytime soon".

Gold diggers, metal detectorists and mudlarks made 68 discoveries in Hampshire last year, statistics from the Museum and Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport show.

The number of recorded treasures finds in the area has continued to climb since records started in 2012, with a whopping 348 discoveries made over the period – the country's eighth-biggest haul.

The Treasure Act defines treasure as finds older than 300 years.

These include coins, prehistoric metallic objects and artefacts that are at least 10 per cent precious metals such as gold or silver.

Anyone who thinks they have struck a hidden horde has to tell the coroner within two weeks, so the court can hold an inquest to decide who gets the loot.

If they don't, they face an unlimited fine or up to three months behind bars.

Local and national museums are given the chance to purchase any pieces a coroner rules as treasure.

Recently two items have been declared as treasure, a piece of twist golden torc from the Bronze Age was discovered in farmland in Swanmore, and a brooch from the 14th Century was found in Hursley.

A golden ring-shaped item was also retrieved by Waltham Chase detectorist Geoff Slingsby back in August 2018, who described the 35mm-long brooch as a "cracking bit of kit".

READ: Items found in Hampshire fields declared as treasure at Winchester Coroner's Court

Following the declarations the finder does not leave empty-handed as they will be paid a sum depending on the haul's value.

Last year, 1,096 treasure troves were reported across England, Wales and Northern Ireland – 191 of which came from the South East.

Professor Michael Lewis, head of portable antiquities and treasure at the British Museum, said: "Given the variety of the objects being reported, from pre-historic hoards to post-medieval buttons, what they tell us about the past varies significantly.

"But there is no doubt that some of the most famous treasure finds, such as the Staffordshire Hoard, have completely transformed how we understand Britain's past, all the more remarkable as most of these finds are found by interested amateurs, not professional archaeologists.

"The main purpose of the Act is to ensure that the most important finds end up in museum collections for all to enjoy, and to that end over 200 museums across England, Wales and Northern Ireland have benefitted from the acquisition of treasure."