When David Booth bought himself a metal detector, he was looking for a new hobby — and perhaps the occasional old coin.
But on his very first outing with the device, he uncovered a £1million hoard of Iron Age jewellery that is Scotland’s most important find in a century.
Mr Booth, 35, found four gold necklaces — known as ‘torcs’ — buried just six inches beneath the surface in a field near Stirling.
Enlarge Up until his amazing find, he had only switched the £240 gadget on to ‘detect’ knives and forks in his own kitchen as practice.
But just one hour into his first outdoor foray — and only seven paces from where he had parked the car — he became the country’s most famous finder.
The hoard — dating back as far as 300BC – has excited archaeologists so much, they say it changes the way we look at Scotland’s ancient inhabitants.
And under treasure trove rules in this country, the safari park keeper is set to get a reward equal to the market value of the find.
But a shell-shocked Mr Booth is finding it hard to come to terms with his imminent wealth — the father-to-be can think no further than ‘perhaps’ paying off his Ford Focus car loan with his riches.
He said: ‘I’d always fancied buying a metal detector, just as a hobby, and I decided to do it. It turned out to be a pretty good investment.
I was really only there because I had permission from the landowner, although I knew the area had some Iron Age history.
‘I just parked the car in the field, took my metal detector out and started looking — I just had a feeling about it.
‘It flashed to indicate that I had found gold about seven paces away from the car, and I started digging.
‘I knew I had to be careful, so I dug quite a large circle around the spot with a garden spade.
I used a trowel when I got nearer. Six or eight inches down, I saw a glimpse of one of them, then uncovered the rest of the hoard. They were in a wee group.
‘My first feeling was one of almost disbelief. I knew it was gold, and it did look old, but I couldn’t believe I could be so lucky.’