A METAL detecting society is calling for new members to join up as it celebrates its first anniversary by unveiling some of its spectacular finds.

Brian Day, chairman of the Braintree Metal Detecting Club, says the group has expanded rapidly from its original membership.

“We had our first meeting at the Cross Keys and seven people turned up,” he said.

“We’ve now outgrown that venue and we’ve got 80-odd.

“There are a lot of retired people who do it who want to get exercise but don’t want to do running and jumping.

“It’s not just an old person’s thing. We’ve got people as young as 16 or 17 involved.”

Brian has been metal detecting since the 1980s. He got his first detector – a Garret Ace 100 – from a farmer who lived nearby.

Today he uses a top of the line model worth more than £2,000.

Within the last year the club has found several dazzling artefacts, including ancient coins, Celtic jewellery, and a Roman brooch in the shape of a crossbow.

Brain says their proudest find is a large gold ring from Sible Hedingham with an estimated value of several thousand pounds.

“This guy must have had hands the size of a blacksmith’s,” Brian said.

“But he probably wasn’t a blacksmith. He was probably very rich.

“There’s an engraved stone in the ring and the image inside was Emperor Hadrian.”

Brian explained that whenever a discovery is sold, half of the proceeds are given to the farmers who allow the detectorists to use their land.

But the value of the pieces is not just in hard cash.

Brian said: “Not only do we find old stuff, it also gives you an idea of who used your land and who’s been walking on it.

“We are approaching harvest time which is when we start going out again. By the end of this month the season starts again.”

The group will be at Heybridge Junior School in November to demonstrate the hobby to pupils.

More information can be found at braintreemdc.co.uk.