The Telegraph (UK) recently reported that a treasure hunter has found a 7th century C.E. Anglo-Saxon 18K gold cross in an English field. The exact location of the farm is being kept secret to prevent "nighthawks" or archaeological thieves from plundering Britain's heritage.

The 1,400 year old early Christian era gold cross, about one inch in width, is decorated with red gemstones - in ancient times, red gemstones were particularly prized. Some of the gemstones are missing as is the holy relic which is believed to have been kept in the middle. The gold likely came from melted down Merovingian French coins.

The treasure hunter armed with a metal detector deliberately searched raised ground because the low-lying area in that part of Nottinghamshire was under water back then. He found the cross buried about 12 inches down. British treasure law required him to hand over the cross to authorities. A coroner's inquest declared his find an treasure trove. The cross will next undergo expert valuation to determine its worth. If a museum buys it, the finder and the landowner will share the bounty which is thought to be at least £25,000 or $50,000.

Many metal detector enthusiasts aren't after archaeological treasure at all. They are often beachcombers looking for modern jewelry lost by forgetful sunbathers. One such amateur treasure hunter, Roy Evans found, in just one week of looking on Georgia's Tybee Island, 23 jewelry pieces including two crosses, 12 rings, a handful of medallions, brooches and one chain necklace which will fetch him several thousand dollars! He also commented that one or two valuable finds could easily pay for a metal detector which typically cost $800 and up. With the price of gold shooting up, prospecting for treasure has also become a rising trend.

Useful resource
Metal Detecting : The Ultimate Guide

The Beading Gem's Journal