A METAL detectorist who discovered a rare 700-year-old pendant in Osmington is delighted to hand his treasure over to the British Museum.

Paul Rainford, 53, of Littlemoor Road, Preston found the medieval pendant with a green stone engraved with a woman's portrait in a farmer's ploughed field on March 6.

He told a treasure inquest at West District Coroners Court: "It was four inches deep.

"I just dug out a little tuft of grass and saw it sticking out of the soil.

"I honestly thought it was a Victorian pendant but when I got home and cleaned the mud off it, I saw the medieval writing and I thought that's quite old.'"

A report by the British Museum said the pendant is silver gilt and dates from the 13th or early 14th century.

The 35mm-long pendant is set with an intaglio of green stone and a mount frames the stone leaving the back exposed.

On the front of the mount are inscribed the letters 'AGLA' which was a popular charm in the Middle Ages.

Coroner Michael Johnston said it signifies 'Athe Gebir Leilan Adoni' meaning 'Thou Art Mighty For Ever, Oh Lord'.

He said the charm was invoked to prevent fever and the stone was exposed deliberately to provide contact between it and the skin of the wearer. The stone, along with the inscription is likely to have had magical significance.

Mr Johnston said: "It's more than 700 years old, it contains a minimum of 10 per cent precious metal and I declare it to be treasure."

He added the British Museum had expressed interest in it.

Speaking after the treasure inquest, Mr Rainford said that the museum's interest was a feather in his cap.

"As long as I can see it in the museum some time, I'll be happy.

"It's nice for other people to see it. When you find something like that it's magical - it's part of our heritage."

A member of Weymouth and Portland Metal Detecting Club, Mr Rainford said this was the best find in five years.

The value of the pendant is still awaiting decision by a valuation committee of dealers, academics, representatives of the national council of metal detectors, and the final sum will be split 50/50 between the landowner and finder.

Claire Pinder, senior archaeologist at Dorset County Council, said: "Paul's find is very unusual, which is why the British Museum is interested in having it, As far as I know there hasn't been anything very similar found and it will be very interesting to know its value."

n ANOTHER Dorset metal detectorist also found treasure in a ploughed field in Tarrant Hinton.

Mr Mitchell of Milbourne St Andrew did not attend the treasure inquest, but his find of a silver gilt Anglo-Saxon fitting on January 7 was said to date back to the ninth century.

A report by the British Museum said the piece might have functioned as a plate for a small buckle.

Mr Johnston said the find contained a minimum of 10 per cent precious metal and was over 300 years old so it too qualified as treasure.