A MAN who dug a piece of metal from a muddy field in North Yorkshire believes he may have discovered a gold and sapphire ring belonging to a Tudor queen.

The astonishing find was unearthed by metal detectorist Steve Whitehead during a dig with the Down to Earth metal detecting club near Sinnington in Ryedale.

Mr Whitehead, from York, has reason to believe the ring may have belonged to Henry VIII’s sixth and final wife, Catherine Parr.

A Lombardic inscription on it suggests the ring dates from between the ninth to the 15th century.

Catherine Parr was previously married to the lord of the manor in Sinnington and could well have been the owner of such an opulent piece of jewellery.

Mr Whitehead, who works at York Hospital, said the ring came out of the ground in very good condition.

It was buried about four inches below the surface from an area of the field which had once had a hedge on it. The history enthusiast believes the hedge would have provided the jewellery with protection from ploughing.

"I walked up the field and detected something in between two pieces of iron," he said.

"I looked down in the space and found it was a ring. I thought nothing else of it at the time and put it in my pocket.

"When we stopped for lunch the others said they had been getting the usual bits of rubbish. I looked at the ring again and said 'no I don't think this is rubbish'.

"I noticed it had an inscription on the inside and outside. We all got really excited and I was shaking a bit.

"I knew it was gold more or less straight away. It came out of the ground quite clean. I was really quite excited and over the moon.”

The find was reported to the North Yorkshire Coroner who deals with any archaeological finds which may be officially designated as “treasure”.

The risk management worker said it could well be linked to Catherine Parr who lived so close to the site, or could go back to Saxon times.

The ring is now in the care of the Yorkshire Museum. A spokesperson for the museum said it was unable to say anything about the find.

“We are not currently at liberty to discuss details of active treasure cases due to legal reasons,” said a spokesperson.