A SILVER Saxon clothes fastener found by a metal detector enthusiast near Dorchester has been declared as treasure.

The hooked tag dating back to the ninth century and weighing only 4.81g was described by senior archaeologist Claire Pinder as very uncommon.' The treasure was discovered by Martin Savage, of The Rise, Stratton, on a farm in Charminster last October when he was searching with his metal detector.

He said: "Initially I didn't realise what it was so I put it in my pouch and carried on metal detecting. It wasn't until afterwards that I scanned it and sent it to an expert that I found out it was Anglo Saxon."

At a treasure inquest in Dorchester Mrs Pinder said that the British Museum is holding on to the clothes fastener and has expressed an interest in purchasing it.

"The fact that the British Museum wants it is significant," she said. "But at this moment we have no idea of it's value."

The front of the hooked tag is decorated with a vase containing a flower and below two stylised animal heads extend onto the hooks.

A report by the British Museum estimates that it is from the ninth century and said that it would have been used to secure small bags, purses or clothing.

West Dorset Coroner Michael Johnston declared the item as treasure and said that it will now go to a valuation board to see how much it is worth.

The British Museum could bid for the item and the money will either go to the landowner in Charminster, Mr Savage or be divided between them.

Mr Savage, 55, said that Dor-chester is one of the best places in the country for ancient objects.