METAL detectorist Pete Beasley believes he has found part of a sword used by a soldier in William the Conqueror’s army.
The 74-year-old semi-retired builder dug up a rusty sword pommel and shards of Norman pottery in the gardens of Wymering Manor, the oldest surviving house in Portsmouth dating back to 1581.
He was doing some voluntary work at the manor to lay some paving slabs.
He stumbled upon the relics about nine inches below the ground.
He believes the pommel – which is a distinctive ‘cocked hat’ variety often used by the Normans on their sword handles – is further proof that William the Conqueror’s second army landed at Fareham Creek.
Historians believe the Norman king’s army landed there in 1066 and marched through Hampshire to take the Saxon capital, Winchester.
William was crowned king of England on Christmas Day 1066, but it took years more fighting to conquer the whole country.
Mr Beasley believes the Norman army sacked Fareham, Wymering, Cosham, Farlington, Bedhampton and Havant and the invasion took 20 years to recover from.
The pommel is believed to be made of iron, with some silver or tin.
‘I was really excited,’ said Mr Beasley, of Gordon Road, Waterlooville.
‘It was in the grounds of the manor. I was laying some slabs and it came up. The pommel was incredible.
‘I also found a piece of ornamented Saxonware which is very rare.’
Mr Beasley believes Wymering Manor may have been the site for a Saxon palace and was attacked by the Normans.
Mr Beasley has been unearthing objects across Hampshire for the last two decades, including finding a hoard of 256 Celtic coins, a Roman bracelet and a ring buried on a farm near Petersfield.
Seven years ago Mr Beasley pulled a heavy gold ring from the ground while out with his metal detector near Petersfield. He believes the ring is 900 years old and belonged to Robert, the eldest son of William the Conqueror.
Meanwhile, Mr Beasley is keen to investigate finds in Havant town centre after a Roman well and Roman ring dedicated to the Roman god of the sea – Neptune – was found two years ago.
He believes a fleet of the Praetorian Guard – bodyguards to the Emperor – landed at Hayling Island and marched to Havant.
He believes Havant, with its reliable fresh water source, became a training ground for the Roman army.
‘Havant is phenomenal,’ he said. ‘The well is nothing to what’s there. It’s a shame they have built on it.’