HISTORY detective Brian Leslie unearthed part of the medieval past of a small North-East village when he discovered a silver brooch dating back to the 14th Century.

The 47-year-old, who is a bricklayer by day and a metal detector enthusiast in his spare time, has passed the brooch to the British Museum for display.

Yesterday, a treasure trove inquest was held in Hartlepool Coroner's Court to decide whether the 21mm brooch was a treasure. Coroner Malcolm Donnelly said that as the brooch consisted of more than ten per cent silver, and was more than 300 years old, it did qualify.

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However, he said the British Museum estimated the brooch only to be worth about £450 - although Mr Leslie said it was worth much more than that to him.

He said last year he was given permission by farmer Peter Jenkins to search some of his fields in the Hart area - and weeks later he came up trumps.

"I have been doing a search of Hart for eight years and this is just a part of the village's history," he said.

"Hart goes back to the Beowulf saga, which was in the 600s, so it's a very interesting place to search.

"Normally, I find things and I just keep them as part of an artefact collection I have. They are not worth very much, but I will keep them together and than hand them to a museum.

"However, I was very shocked when I found the brooch. I knew instantly what it was, and knew it was worth hundreds, rather than thousands, but I thought one of the museums might want to keep it."

He said the British Museum was contacted about its authenticity and curators have decided to keep it.

The £450 that the museum will pay for the brooch will be split between Mr Leslie and Mr Jenkins.

"I know the history of Hart, so I was not too surprised when Brian found something," said Mr Jenkins.

"My grandfather, who had the farm in the Seventies, found a stone Saxon cross, which is on display in the village church, so there is obviously a lot of history there."

Mr Leslie, who lives in the Clavering area of Hartlepool, has been attempting to detect forgotten treasures for years.

Previous finds of his include a Roman villa in the Helmsley area of North Yorkshire, which he found along with three Roman bronze, gold and silver jugs, dating back to the 2nd Century.