A Brentwood father-of-three has struck gold after finding a shilling that sold for £15,000 at auction.

Mark Pallett, 55, is a drainage engineer but has enjoyed metal detecting as a hobby since the age of around 16, and he said he’s found “a lot of gold” in his time.

But in January this year, while searching a stubble field in Haslingfield in Cambridgeshire, Mark found a valuable shilling.

After hearing a faint signal and digging down four inches, Mark discovered what he thought was a small button with a cross in the centre.

After cleaning it off, Mark - who is the vice chairman of the Brentwood and District Metal Detecting Club - realised he had found something special.

The 13mm shilling weighs 1.3g and dates back to between 650AD and 70AD.

Romford Recorder: The Anglo Saxon coin found by Mark.The Anglo Saxon coin found by Mark. (Image: Dix Noonan Webb)

It sold for £15,000 at Dix Noonan Webb's coins, tokens and historical medals auction in Mayfair on March 8.

Mark split the proceeds 50/50 with the landowner, with whom he had an agreement about any objects found.

The 55-year-old said he was “very lucky” to find the shilling, as his detector didn’t charge the night before and only had enough power for 15 minutes' use.

He said: “It’s a moment everyone dreams of.

“I thought it can’t be at first and called my mate over and put it in his hands. I said it's a Saxon gold.

"We thought someone had made a copy, but then it sunk in, it had to be real.

“I put it in my top pocket and kept checking it every five minutes.”

Mark said he will put the money towards a new detector in the future, but for now the one he has is his lucky charm, he said.

Romford Recorder: When Mark turned the coin to see the helmeted male bust, he knew he had found a special coin.When Mark turned the coin to see the helmeted male bust, he knew he had found a special coin. (Image: Dix Noonan Webb)

Dix Noonan Webb artefacts and antiquities consultant, Nigel Mills, said: “The design is based on an obsolete Roman coin of the emperor Crispus from the fourth century AD.

“The legend includes Runic text which translated into Latin is Delaiona (of Laiona) which may refer to the moneyer who struck the coin.”

He added: “The gold shilling is in extremely fine condition and centrally struck so you can read all the inscriptions.

“Only eight examples of this ‘Crispus’ type have been recorded on the Early Medieval Coins database at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge.”