A TREASURE hunter from Weymouth unearthed an Iron Age grave containing a skeleton of a woman and a number of her belongings.

An inquest into the treasure, which was discovered by Carl Walmsley of Westham, heard how a total of 14 items were found in the grave on land near Portesham.

West Dorset coroner Michael Johnston declared that the items, including a mirror, two brooches, a bronze amulet, a coin, tweezers and a number of glass and stone beads, were treasure at the inquest held at Dorset County Hall.

Mr Johnston said that the items, which were discovered on April 27 last year, dated from between 15BC to AD50-60 and were found in a Durotrigian type grave.

At the inquest, senior archaeologist at Dorset County Council Claire Pinder, said the skeleton which was lying in a foetal position in the grave was of a woman.

She said: “It’s likely the lady was buried with her belongings and she was probably a woman of some status.

“The beads in particular are very striking and unusual and would probably have been a necklace she was wearing.

“My suspicion is that the mirror is very rare.

“This really is an exciting and an unusual find.”

Miss Pinder confirmed that Dorset County Museum had expressed an interest in acquiring the items.

Treasure hunter Mr Walmsley, 44, who was present at the inquest, said it was exciting to see the items he found declared as treasure.

Mr Walmsley, who has been metal detecting for more than 25 years after his father introduced him to the hobby, said: “This is the best thing I’ve ever found by far.

“The mirror was the main thing – there has only been two of its kind found in the county and only 30 in the country.

“You find items and you’re not sure who they belong to, but to find the grave of a person with their belongings is just amazing.

“I wasn’t even dreaming that it could be anything like that.”

He added: “I knew it was going to be declared as treasure but it was still really good to be at the inquest. It’s not just about finding the treasure, it’s nice to follow it through. It’s doing it the right way. I’m trying to bring metal detecting and archaeologists together for a change. I’d urge more metal detectors to do it that way and hand over the treasures they find. It’s nice for everybody to get to see it.”

Mr Walmsley said that Dorset County Museum has expressed an interest in the items.