Norfolk was once among the richest regions of the country, a history which has made it a treasure trove for metal detectorists.

Now new statistics have underlined this status, showing more artefacts have been unearthed here than anywhere else in the country.

The annual coroners’ figures reveal that last year 98 Norfolk discoveries were officially declared as treasure by coroners.

The closest other region to the county was Hampshire, where 80 finds were made, while neighbouring Suffolk is also in the top five, boasting 73 discoveries.

Experts say Norfolk's enviable position can be attributed to several factors - ranging from its abundance of arable land, its geographical location and Norwich's former status as England's second city.

Avid detectorist Andy Carter, meanwhile, believes part of it could also be down to people in Norfolk simply being better than most at reporting their finds.

Eastern Daily Press: Andy Carter, a metal detectorist from Norfolk. Picture: Joanna AshfordAndy Carter, a metal detectorist from Norfolk. Picture: Joanna Ashford (Image: Joanna Ashford)

Mr Carter was recently able to move house thanks to a windfall from discovering a 14th century leopard coin.

Mr Carter, now of Mattishall, said that a specific method of reporting archaeological discoveries was founded in Norfolk, which had consequently made detectorists in the region better at recording their finds.

He added: "Most people who detect in Norfolk know and understand that it is most beneficial to report what you find - if you report then you will get the full reward from it.

"It is absolutely in your interest to do it correctly."

Mr Carter, 67, added: "There are lots of historical reasons why Norfolk tends to have more treasure than other places too.

"Being on the east coast is a big part of it, as this is where raiders like the Saxons landed.

"Norwich was at one point the second richest city in the country - so when raiders threatened people would bury their valuable things in their back gardens."

Tim Pestell, archaeology curator at Norwich Castle, agreed that the previous wealth of the county was a hugely influential factor.

Eastern Daily Press: Tim Pestell, senior curator of archaeology at Norwich Castle

He said: "Most important, Norfolk is a large county and still largely arable.

"That means there is a lot of land for people to search and find things.

"However, there are more subtle elements that fill out this picture - as it was clear that eastern Britain was generally richer than the west of the county in terms of metalwork over many different periods and this reflects wider economic patterns and thus finds."

Dr Pestell added that Norfolk also has the largest number of finds that are not classified as treasure.

He added: "For the county's museums, this presents a unique challenge.

"We have more archaeological material coming at us than anywhere else and thus the possibility of creating some of the most interesting displays anywhere in the UK.

"Equally, we don't and wouldn't want every find made in the county because we already have examples of many types of archaeological find.

"The most important element is the need to record these findings so they don't move from being unknown in the soil to being unknown in someone's house and once again lost from view."

Eastern Daily Press: The Detectorists, which was filmed in Suffolk. Picture: BBCThe Detectorists, which was filmed in Suffolk. Picture: BBC (Image: free)

Norfolk has consistently had the highest number of finds since the data began being annually released in 2012.

The figure shows a slight increase on the number of confirmed finds in 2021, when 84 discoveries were made.

The most prolific year for the county on record is 2016, when there were a whopping 130 confirmed discoveries.

Nationally, there was a 20pc increase in finds.