AN ANCIENT gold ring which once belonged to a Roman family has been unearthed at a secret plot near Ilminster, along with 30 Roman coins.

Jason Massey from the group Detecting for Veterans dug up the incredible pieces at a site between Ilminster and Crewkerne, which has previously thrown up a rare Roman lead coffin and a hoard of around 260 coins.

Detecting for Veterans is a Taunton-based group set up by Mr Massey, a former 1st Battalion Light Infantry Veteran.

After their first set of discoveries during a Christmas charity dig, the group returned to the site on July 29.

Mr Massey said: “We had permission from Somerset Archaeological team and my local Finds Liaison Officer to search the area again as we knew there would be more coins there.

“So we started to go over the hoard site which was roped off so no one disturbed the coffin.

“It took a while to find the first Roman coin, then myself and group member Phillip Costello found a signal which was hard to read on my metal detector, so I tweaked my machine and then it gave a positive signal.

“We started to dig and started to find Roman coins - 30 in total.

“I had a faint signal on my pinpointer at 10 inches and thought it was iron, so I got my Equinox metal detector and it gave a real positive signal. I started to scrape away the baked sandy soil and bingo gold was showing.”

After 10 minutes of digging the group uncovered the ring and were ‘gobsmacked’ at their discovery.

They will still have to wait before they found out the piece’s value.

Mr Massey added: “We knew it was a high status villa site but this has pushed up the bar.

“We have to wait for the treasure trove report for the valuations but we are more happy we have found a piece of history dating back 1800 years and from one in very, very high status.”

The original series of copper alloy coins dated back to between 270AD and 350AD.

The Roman lead coffin, believed to be that of a young woman, dates from 400AD.

Laura Burnett, Somerset’s Finds Liaison Officer, previously described the find as “enormously significant”.

If the British Museum or the local Museum goes on to purchase the hoard, the finder and the landowner will get a 50/50 split as per treasure trove rules.

The site is privately owned.