A centuries-old gold crucifix dug up in a Doncaster field was almost tossed aside as scrap by the finder.
David Sables, a metal detector enthusiast from Skellow, was about to throw it away because it was covered in mud.
But when he rubbed it clean the 57-year-old realised he had uncovered treasure which could be worth thousands of pounds.
He reported last November’s find to the coroner, as required by law.
Experts say the beautiful two-inch-long gold crucifix dates from between 1500 and 1800.
It depicts a figure of Jesus Christ wearing a crown of thorns and is even detailed with the nails through his hands and feet.
Latin inscriptions refer to Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews, and another on the reverse reads: ‘Under this sign you shall conquer’.
Mr Sables made the find in a field near Burghwallis.
The field is owned by Sutton farmer George Senior, who will share half the crucifix’s value after Doncaster Deputy Coroner Fred Curtis recorded it as treasure.
It was sent to the British Museum and experts said it qualified as treasure because of its age and precious metal content.
Doncaster Museum has expressed an interest in acquiring it and an independent valuation will be carried out.
Mr Sables, of Hampole Balk Lane, said he found it just a few inches below the surface in a recently ploughed field.
“At first I put it in my pocket with other items such as rusty nails that I was going to throw away, then I rubbed some of the muck off and I could see it was gold.
“It’s the best thing I’ve ever found, the previous best were Roman coins but they’re not worth very much. “The beauty of it to me is not the value but thinking who was the past person to touch the crucifix.
“I imagine it would have belonged to a local priest or bishop, rather than some ordinary person who lived near there.”
The exact location has not been revealed.