Largest gold nugget ever found in England unearthed with faulty metal detector

A gold nugget photographed on a black background
The gold nugget is expected to sell at auction for at least $37,800. (Image credit: Mullock Jones)

The largest gold nugget ever found in England was discovered by a man using a faulty metal detecting device.   

Metal detectorist Richard Brock unearthed the chunk of gold last May while exploring Shropshire, a county in western England, despite arriving late to a meetup with fellow treasure hunters and using an older detector, The Guardian reported.

About 20 minutes into his search, Brock, who has been metal detecting for 35 years, discovered the nugget. The chunk of gold weighs 2.3 ounces (64.8 grams) and is roughly larger than a quarter, CNN reported.

"The machine I was using was pretty much kaput — it was only half working," Brock told The Guardian. "It just goes to show that it doesn't really matter what equipment you use. If you are walking over the find and are alert enough to what might be lurking underneath the soil, that makes all the difference."

Given the circumstances, Brock said he "couldn't believe it." However, how the gold got there remains a mystery. 

Related: 'Absolutely gobsmacking' gold nugget worth $160,000 unearthed by metal detectorist in Australia

Mullock Jones, a Shropshire-based auction house, is currently taking bids for the nugget as part of an online auction, which ends April 1. The nugget is expected to sell for at least $37,800 (30,000 British pounds).

The nugget is considered a "rare find," Ben Jones, an auctioneer and valuer at Mullock Jones, told CNN. "The site does contain an old road/railway line and has remnants of Welsh stone within," he said. "So [there's] a variety of possibilities of how it made it there."

At one time, parts of the region were submerged by a prehistoric ocean, as evidenced by the many pieces of coral that have been unearthed there, CNN reported.

The largest gold nugget ever found in the U.K. weighed 4.3 ounces (121.3 grams), CNN reported. This nugget was pulled from a Scottish river in 2019.

Jennifer Nalewicki
Live Science Staff Writer

Jennifer Nalewicki is a Salt Lake City-based journalist whose work has been featured in The New York Times, Smithsonian Magazine, Scientific American, Popular Mechanics and more. She covers several science topics from planet Earth to paleontology and archaeology to health and culture. Prior to freelancing, Jennifer held an Editor role at Time Inc. Jennifer has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from The University of Texas at Austin.