METAL detectorist Peter Beasley has stumbled upon another incredible find.
The 72-year-old, from Waterlooville, has dedicated his life to treasure-hunting and says his latest discovery is one of his best.
At a secret location, just two inches below the surface, Mr Beasley found a tiny silver Christian votive – an offering to the gods.
He believes it was left at the site of a pagan Roman temple as an act of aggression by Christians to deliberately upset pagan worshippers.
Mr Beasley will not reveal the exact location of the find but said it is a farmer’s field in the local area. He believes it dates from 312 AD.
It is thought to have come from the era of Roman Emperor Constantine the Great, who ruled Rome from 306 AD to 337 AD when Christianity became the dominant religion of the Roman Empire.
Mr Beasley said: ‘I think it’s valuable but it is something that I would never consider selling.
‘I’ve never seen anything like this on a pagan site. It’s really, really rare.
‘It was about two inches down at the site of a temple which would have been used by Roman soldiers to pray to the gods on the way to battles.
‘I’ve asked the farmer if I can keep it because I’m a bit religious myself.
‘I’m not a fanatic but I believe in God.
‘I’m not going to sell it.’
Mr Beasley said it was common for Christian churches to be built on the site of pagan temples in an attempt to ‘damn all the pagan gods’.
He is a well-known treasure hunter and his finds have drawn a lot of attention.
Another recent discovery was a 24-carat gold medieval ring.
It was found on a Buriton farm in 2008 and sold at auction in the summer for £12,000.
Experts believe the jewellery belonged to William the Conqueror’s eldest son, Robert.
It is inscribed with Robert on one side and DVX, the Latin word for duke, on the other.
The ring was part of a royal exhibition at Goldsmiths’ Hall.