Glasgow & West Scotland

Gold ring found near Loch Lomond makes £14,000 at auction

Michelle Vall with the ring she found Image copyright DNW
Image caption Michelle Vall was metal detecting with her husband and found ring pulls and tractor pieces before the alert sounded for the ring
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A 17th century gold ring, discovered near Loch Lomond by a metal detectorist, has fetched £14,000 at auction.

Michelle Vall from Blackpool literally struck gold when she searched the shore at Duck Bay, near Balloch, in January.

It isthought the ring once belonged to a courtier of the future James II of England (James VII of Scotland).

It went under the hammer in London on Tuesday after the National Museum of Scotland declined the chance to buy it.

The ring was expected to raise about £10,000, but the winning bid was £14,000. The new owner, a private collector from the US, will pay a total of £17,360, which includes the buyer's premium.

Ms Vall said: "I am extremely happy.

"It has been an exciting time from the second I held the ring in the palm of my hand to today's auction. To investigate something so precious and full of history has been the most amazing experience.

"Hopefully it's gone to a place where it might be displayed for others to see and to educate people on the tragic story of Edward Colman and his unfortunate execution, so it can be appreciated for the historical treasure that it is."

'No particular history'

Ms Vall took up her metal-detecting hobby two years ago to deal with panic attacks that left her confined to her home.

She was on a trip to Scotland with her husband and they had brought their metal detectors with them.

She said: "Uncovering the ring was an unforeseen event as myself and my husband were detecting on a field with no particular history of finds in the area.

"We were enjoying the peace and relaxation of our wonderful hobby, finding the usual ring pulls, tractor pieces and miscellaneous metal objects.

"So when I unearthed the ring, which was close to the surface, I knew straight away that it was something special.

"It shone with a distinct bright yellow colour as I carefully lifted it out of the dark muddy hole, where it had waited for at least 350 years."

The ring has been dated from between 1640 and 1680 and once belonged to a courtier of the future king.

The man, from Suffolk, worked for the future James II of England (James VII of Scotland), who lived for a while in Edinburgh before he took the throne.

It bears the crest of a family named Colman.

Image copyright Michelle Vall
Image caption Michelle Vall found the ring while combing the area at Duck Bay with her metal detector

The ring was auctioned in a sale of jewellery and watches at Dix Noonan Webb in London.

Nigel Mills, antiquities specialist at the auctioneer, said: "The Colman seal ring is an excellent example of a high status ring of the period, of which there are only a very limited number surviving in this condition.

"Metal detectorists like Michelle have contributed vastly to our knowledge by finding treasures that would have otherwise been unknown to exist."

It is not Mrs Vall's first valuable find since picking up her metal detector.

An extremely rare gold "half angel" coin she found sold for £40,800 at auction in December 2017.

The story of the Colman family

Image copyright DNW
Image caption The ring fetched £14,000 at auction

The auctioneers' research revealed that the ring belonged to the Colman family of Brent Eleigh, Suffolk, who used the arms on the bezel of the ring from 1598.

The same crest can be seen on the ledge slab of the tomb of Samuel Colman, who died in 1653, in the parish church of St Mary and on the Brent Eleigh village signpost.

The Colman family had made their fortune in the mid 16th Century from the cloth trade, in the Suffolk town of Lavenham.

Samuel's second son Thomas was a devout clergyman in the protestant faith in the village of Brent Eleigh.

However, Thomas's only son Edward became a convert to Catholicism and had a reputation as an effective preacher of his new faith, gaining a number of converts.

In 1661 Edward established himself at court, being sworn in as a "Gentleman Pensioner", acting as a bodyguard to King Charles II.

By 1673 he had been appointed Secretary to fellow Catholic, Mary of Modena, the wife of James, Duke of York, the younger brother and heir presumptive to Charles.

During the end of the 1670s, James and Mary had been living in Edinburgh.

Edward Colman was later implicated in an alleged plot to assassinate the King. He was found guilty of treason and in November 1678 was hung, drawn and quartered.

His former employer later became James II of England and James VII of Scotland.

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