There’s gold in them there hills!

Tom Crawford, an amateur metal detector, outside an inquest court in Belfast as it was revealed he discovered a rare piece of Viking gold dating back more than a thousand years in Northern Ireland last year. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday June 27, 2013. See PA story ULSTER Treasure. Photo credit should read: Paul Faith/PA Wire
Tom Crawford, an amateur metal detector, outside an inquest court in Belfast as it was revealed he discovered a rare piece of Viking gold dating back more than a thousand years in Northern Ireland last year. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday June 27, 2013. See PA story ULSTER Treasure. Photo credit should read: Paul Faith/PA Wire

A gold ingot and a tiny silver ring brooch, found just outside Loughbrickland, might spark a gold rush in the district.

Tom Crawford, who found the gold, said that last year’s find, which was confirmed this week at a coroner’s hearing as treasure, was just the latest item he has found in the Banbridge area.

Experts say that the nugget found by the Banbridge man is one of only a few known from Ireland - not a bad effort for an amateur from the Ballygowan Road.

“I’ve always considered it to be a bit of a hobby which my brother got me into many years ago,” said Tom.

“I’ve found lots of pieces when I’ve been out and about like bronze and iron axe heads. About 10 or 15 years ago I found silver coins not far from my house.

“It’s a bit like going fishing. Sometimes you’ll go out and you’ll find nothing, and but you keep going in hope of landing that big one. When you find something it gives you that bit of incentive to keep it up and broadening your searches.

“Sometimes, though, all you find is a few bottle tops and general junk.”

As he has found a wide variety of items, Tom wasn’t too surprised to come across another item of value.

“To be honest I thought it was brass, I had no idea it was gold,” he added.

“The treasure is currently with Dr Greer Ramsey, curator at Armagh County Museum, but soon it will be sent to England to be valued. I’m not sure how much it will be worth as it’s not a large piece.”

He told the inquiry that the find was ‘part of the big jigsaw of the history of this country’.

He said, “Every little bit that is found is part of the jigsaw and when I think that I have uncovered a few fields in this country, there are hundreds of thousands of fields throughout Northern Ireland that no metal detector has ever been in so what is lying out there could be all sorts of things.

“You would need hundreds of metal detectors to go over the fields but a lot of stuff could still be lying there.”

Tom thanked all of the farmers in the district for granting him permission to search on their land.