A PAIR of history buffs have uncovered the find of a lifetime while metal detecting in Ryedale.

James Spark and Mark Didlick, from York, were exploring a site in May when they came across “significant” finds.

James said: “The day was a memorable one. Mark has detected the land for a few years and had the odd Roman find here and there, so there was a potential for some finds, but never in a million years did we expect to find what we did.

“After a slow start we headed to a different part of the field and I came across a large target which when I dug it up I thought it was a lead toy soldier on a horse. Another target later and within a foot away I unearthed a large Roman bust and Plumb weight, and the following day Mark unearthed a horse head terminal.”

He added: “These items are extremely rare and probably date to the 2nd century BC.”

The finds are currently with the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) for recording and documenting where they will be cleaned and added to the database.

Julian Evan-Hart, editor of Treasure Hunting magazine, said: “This superb deposit of Roman artefacts is particularly significant in that it contains an Imperial bust of an Antonine period Emperor, most likely a representation of Commodus or Antoninus Pius and a horseman, most likely representing the god Mars. Another very noticeable aspect of this deposit is the amazing condition of preservation relating to the artefacts.”

Julian said: “This deposit or hoard will no doubt be the subject and recipient of much academic consideration and one of the delights of such discoveries is that everyone will be able form their own personal theories as to who, what and why in relation to it.

“The great time scale of this find is perhaps best illustrated in considering that when Harold took an arrow in the eye these wonderful objects had already been buried for some 800 years.

“Mark and James have provided an amazing window into the past only made possible by the hobby of metal detecting and the finders dedication to it. I must add on a personal note that it was a great privilege to be able to be involved with sharing the details of such a marvellous discovery.”