A SPECTACULAR sapphire ring found in a North Yorkshire field could have belonged to a king from the Dark Ages, experts have concluded.

The gold ring was unearthed four years ago by York metal detectorist Michael Greenhorn in a field at Escrick, just outside the city, and was the first such find anywhere in the country.

Originally it was thought to be a bishop’s ring dating from the 10th or 11th-century and it was bought by the Yorkshire Museum in York for £35,000.

However that price may now have prove a bargain - following a day-long workshop attended by some 30 experts from all over the country which concluded the find was far more important than previously thought.

They think it was probably from the 5th or 6th –century, was probably made in France and would have belonged to a king, leader or consort.

The sapphire in the ring was probably cut earlier, possibly during the Roman period, but the ring itself was specially made around the stone. The wear on the ring also suggests it was worn for 50 years before being lost.

The gold hoop that forms the ring also looks slightly different to the main body of the piece, suggesting it was turned into a ring later, possibly from a brooch or mount.

The experts’ conclusions will now be followed up, initially by researchers at the University of Durham ,with particular attention paid to where the ring was found and any archaeology or historical information relating to it from the 5th- or 6th-centuries.

X-ray technology will be used to research further how it was made and the sapphire and glass elements will be studied more comprehensively.

The museum’s curator of archaeology, Natalie McCaul, insisted it was far too early to say whether the new findings would affect the value of the ring and send it soaring.

She added: “What this workshop has shown is that this sapphire ring is even more special than we had previously thought. Nothing like it has been found in this country from the 5th or 6th century.

“It has been fantastic to hear the thoughts of some of the world’s leading experts and their suggestions will allow us to now go away and try and fit the ring into a historical timeframe.

“Hopefully this will lead us to finding out more about the ring and possibly even who might have owned it.”