A MEDIEVAL crucifix that was discovered by a treasure hunter may find a permanent home in Dorset.

At an inquest at County Hall in Dorchester, West Dorset coroner Michael Johnston said the artefact was found by John Sharp in a ploughed field at farmland near Winterborne Kingston in January this year.

Mr Johnston said that Mr Sharp, from Parkstone, found the silver and gold crucifix six inches below the ground using a metal detector.

It was submitted to the British Museum, and curator of medieval collections James Robinson said in a statement that it was possibly a pendant that may have been attached to something.

He said the silver-gilt crucifix dated from the late 15th or early 16th century and measured 37mm in length by 28mm in width.

He added: “The figure of Christ hangs from the cross in a Y-shape, with a twisted body and head hung low.

“The rib cage is exposed and the naval protuberant. The modelling of the figure is crude.”

Mr Robinson said the figure of Christ was entirely gilded in gold originally but this had now worn away in places to reveal silver beneath.

He said: “In terms of age and as the object contains a minimum of 10 per cent precious metal it qualifies as treasure under the stipulations of the Treasure Act 1996.”

Senior archaeologist from the Dorset County Council archaeology team Claire Pinder said she would support plans to keep the unique object in the county.

She was more complimentary of the item than Mr Robinson and said it was a rare find for the area.

She said: “I think it’s a lovely little object.

“We are more accustomed to finding coins and smaller personal ornaments.

“It’s very tactile and is a very enjoyable object.”

Mr Johnston declared the crucifix as treasure and said that it would now be valued by a team at the British Museum.

He said that, subject to an appeal over the valuation by either the landowner or the finder, it would then be open to any museum to raise funds and bid for the object.

Under the terms of the Treasure Act, the proceeds of the sale will be split between Mr Sharp and the owner of the field.

If no buyer is found it would be returned to Mr Sharp.