A treasure hunter has said he made “a one in a million find” after unearthing an axe and gold rings in north Suffolk that maybe 3,000 years old and the first discovery of their kind for the region.

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And as well as making his best find as a metal detectorist of 15 years, Steven Walker hopes the Bronze Age axe and rings inside its socket found near North Cove, near Beccles will take centre place in the British Museum.

Although the axe maybe the most eye-catching of the find, it is the gold rings that have historical experts excited as they may be the first discovery of its kind in Suffolk

The axe and gold rings were found buried 9in in land near North Cove on August 7 last year at the end of Steven Walker’s first day exploring the area with the land owners’ permission.

Experts at London’s British Museum, who hope to buy the find, said the hoard dates from between 1,000 and 800 BC.

Yesterday Suffolk coroner Dr Peter Dean declared the find as a treasure meaning it should be sold to the British Museum with Mr Walker and the landowners sharing the money.

It was not made public how much the find is worth.

Describing the axe and gold rings Dr Dean said: “It is a rather splendid find.”

After yesterday’s hearing Dr Andrew Brown, finds recording officer at Suffolk County Council Archaeological Service, said while Bronze Age axes were a common find in Suffolk, the finding of five gold rings was an altogether different matter.

Dr Brown said: “To find gold rings from the Bronze Age is quite rare and to find them in an axe socket is even rarer still.

“I think it is the first grouping of its kind found in Suffolk. It is certainly a little bit different and unusual to what is normally found.”

Dr Brown said it is not known what the rings may have symbolised or used for and it was likely the axe was just used as a normal day tool.

After the hearing Mr Walker, who is from Gisleham and been metal detecting for 15 years, said: “It was a one in a million find.

“Obviously you always hope you will find something like that, but it is normally odds and ends and stuff like waste you find.

“The North Cove find is the latest of a long line of Bronze Age discoveries in the region.

In June a Bronze Age pot containing human remains was found in King’s Lynn, in November 2011 ancient pins and torques were found at the construction site of the East Coast Hospice in Gorleston and in June 2010 the EDP reported on the discovery of a Bronze Age field system, the first evidence of its kind in Norfolk.

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