METAL detecting enthusiast Ronald Lees from Altrincham was “ecstatic” when he unearthed the find of a lifetime in a Cheshire field.

The 62-year-old initially found dozens of Roman coins, which became a hoard of almost 7,800 after archaeologists helped reveal the full extent of the amazing discovery.

The bronze coins were produced in the third century, and the majority were found in a pot a few inches under the ground.

Ronald discovered the coins when he and friend Rick Parker made their fifth trawl of a field on a cold, wet winter’s day in January 2015.

At an inquest into the find at Macclesfield Town Hall on Wednesday July 6, Alan Moore, deputy Coroner for Cheshire, declared the coin hoard to be treasure.

Museums can express an interest in a find if it’s treasure, and if a museum wants the treasure the Treasure Valuation Committee will decide how much it is worth and how much will go to anyone entitled to a share of the find.

Mr Moore told Ronald at the inquest: “It is an absolutely amazing find, and it must have made your day. I wish you every luck in your metal detecting in the future.”

Mr Moore read out a report by Richard Abdy from the British Museum.

Addy said that the coins date from AD 251 to 274, and are similar to the many Romano-British coin hoards buried in the aftermath of the breakaway Gallic Empire.

The greatest number, 1,902, are from the reign of Tetricus I, with 745 from his son’s reign.

There are 1,670 coins from the reign of Victorinus, AD 269-71, 899 from Gallienus’ reign, AD 260-8, 599 from the reign of Claudius II, AD 268-70, and 354 from Posthumus’ reign, AD 260-9.

Speaking after the inquest, Ronald said he took up metal detecting again three years ago after being interested in it in his 20s.

He said that the Peover search was unremarkable until the detector went into ‘overload’ near a tree.

“I started scraping with a trowel, and a coin flipped up, followed by another and another – they were just coming out of the ground,” he said.

“I was soaking wet and freezing cold, but all of a sudden nothing else mattered – I was ecstatic.

“The last person who held the coins could have been a Roman Emperor, a gladiator or a serf.”

Ronald called the Finds Liaison Officer, who visited the site the next day with archaeologists, and the team unearthed a pot containing thousands of coins, leading to the treasure inquest.