Treasure-hunter finds £50K gold nugget

Bullion from Victorian wreck

Updated: 
Vincent Thurkettle with the gold nugget.

The heaviest gold nugget to be found in the UK in 200 years has been discovered off the coast of Wales.

Made back in 2012, the discovery has only just been revealed, while the area was searched for more.

Vincent Thurkettle, 60, found the 97.12g lump of gold on the seabed just a few metres off the coast of Anglesey. It's more than twice the size of the UK's last big find, a 59g nugget found in Cornwall in 1808, and is believed to be worth as much as £50,000.

The find is believed to have come from the wreck of the steam clipper Royal Charter, which went down in a hurricane on 26 October 1859 with the loss of least 459 passengers.

It was carrying 79,000 ounces of gold bullion from Melbourne to London, believed to be worth as much as £120 million today.

Mr Thurkettle, of Norfolk, has spent the last seven summers looking for traces of the treasure, and had found gold dust, coins and other objects from the ship. However, this was the first large piece of gold he'd found.

"I was absolutely stunned when I first saw the nugget. The sun was out so the gold was gleaming and because it was under water it was magnified, so it looked huge," he tells Wales Online.

"It was stuck in a crevice and as it lay where nature had hidden it, the nugget reminded me of a Faberge egg. When I picked it up it was surprisingly heavy."

The lump of gold will now be put on display.

"It has broken my heart to part with the nugget, but I think it's important that it ends up in a museum for everyone to see," says Mr Thurkettle.

Special rules from the Receiver of Wreck cover the finding of treasure from a shipwreck, and the nugget has now become the property of the Crown. However, Mr Thurkettle will receive a reward.

Two years ago, two divers were fined for taking items from wrecks without informing the Receiver of Wreck. David Knight and Edward Huzzey were convicted of salvaging items on an 'industrial scale' and were ordered to pay £63,500 in fines and costs.

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