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A detectorist grandmother claims that she may have discovered William Shakespeare's ring during a dig near a Tudor hall bearing his name.
Retired postie Sue Kilvert, 66, uncovered the gold posy ring while inspecting a field next to Shakespeare Hall in Rowington, Warwickshire.
The hall used to be owned by the Shakespeare family and local legend has it the great bard wrote As You Like It there.
The small ring has a delicate red and white enamel and carries the inscription 'Truth Betrayes Not'. Sounds Shakespearean, right?
Sue, who has been detecting for about five years, was approaching the bottom of the banked field when she got a strong signal on her Garrett AT Pro metal detector.
She dug down eight inches into the ground and looked into the hole but could not see anything of note but then she glimpsed out of the corner of her eye an object on the grass which must have been in the dirt she had removed from the ground.
She picked up the 'tiny' ring, at first thinking it was a modern child's ring, but on closer inspection she noticed the inscription.
Sue took it to show fellow detectors who were overcome with excitement at her find, with one identifying it as a gold posy ring and another mentioning the possible Shakespeare connection.
She said: "I had been digging up nothing but rubbish all day when a fellow detector suggested I try the fields around the Tudor hall. I started going up and down the banked field when I got a strong signal.
"I dug down eight inches and looked into the hole but couldn't locate anything, which I thought was strange. But then I caught sight of an object sitting on the grass.
"I thought that looks pretty and picked it up. It was tiny so I thought it might be a modern child's ring but when I took a closer look I could see the inscription and realised it could be something more significant.
"The feeling was almost of disbelief. I took it to show the others and they couldn't believe it, they were so excited. One of them said he was certain it was a posy ring and then the comments about Shakespeare started. I don't think you could ever prove if it was linked to him but it is a very romantic thought!"
Sue has informed Birmingham Museums and the coroner of the ring, which is due to be inspected in the coming months. She hopes to keep hold of the 'once in a lifetime' find, but that will be out of her hands if it is declared as 'treasure' under the Treasure Act (1996).
In that instance, she would be legally obliged to offer it for sale to a museum at a price set by the Treasure Valuation Committee. Sue said: "It is in the hands of the coroner to decide whether this ring constitutes treasure or not. I'd love to keep the ring, it is a once in a lifetime find."
Posy rings were popular during the 15th through the 17th centuries in both England and France as lovers' gifts.
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