The man who found 159 Roman coins in Sandridge had been using a metal detector for the first time when he made the discovery.

Wesley Carrington found the hoard, which is believed to be one of the biggest of its kind ever found in the UK, in October last year.

In total 159 coins were found in private woodland in Sandridge.

The coins, which show mints representing a number of parts of the empire including Rome, Milan, Trier and Thessalon Opolis, were found in private woodland in Sandridge.

They feature at least five emperors including Honorius, Arcadius and Theodosius.

Mr Carrington found the first 55 on a trip out with his new metal detector during his first ever attempt to find buried treasure.

He said: “I’d never done it before.

“I bought the cheapest [metal detector] that the closest shop did and this was the closest area of woodland to where I live.

“I just veered off the path and started metal detecting.”

In the first 25 minutes all he had found was a spoon and a half penny.

However the next time his machine beeped he had discovered something of much greater importance.

He said: “I had watched a couple of YouTube clips before I bought the detector to see how to do it.

“I just dug a little hole. There is very soft ground in that area. It was literally only about seven inches down.

“It was gold coloured with a Roman figure on it.

“I knew what it was but I didn’t know the significance of finding even one of them.

“I just kept going and within 15 seconds it beeped again.”

He carried on looking in the same area and managed to find another 54 coins within about three metres of where he found the first.

Two days later he took the coins to the shop where he bought the metal detector to show staff his findings.

Mr Carrington added: “It’s not my game so I didn’t understand what I had found until I spoke to people who knew.

“I just said I think I’ve found something you might want to see.

“I had washed them – that’s how much of a novice I am. I didn’t know you aren’t meant to do that.

“They looked brand new. To me they all looked exactly the same.

“The shop owner was gobsmacked. I’m surprised he was still standing. He just said 'you’ve got no idea what you’ve found have you?'”

They then contacted the museums and council, and a full dig was arranged for the site.

A team of about seven people took part in the dig, and a further 104 coins were found.

One of the experts to take part in the main dig was Julian Watters, the finds liaison officers for Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire.

He said: “It is something you dream of as a child finding buried treasure.

“It is certainly the most spectacular find I have seen.

“In the ten years I have worked in this job I have only ever seen four Roman coins.

“You wouldn’t have given [Mr Carrington] good odds on finding this.

“There are a lot of people who have been doing it for 30 years and have never found a gold coin full stop.

“He seemed very laid back about the whole thing.”

Since his find, Mr Carrington has joined a metal detector club.

Under the Treasure Act 1996, an inquest was held at Hertfordshire’s coroner’s court in Hatfield today (Wednesday).

Coroner Edward Thomas said: “Metal detecting has done a lot for finding treasure.

“Normally the best thing you find is a tin of old baked beans.

“Well done.”

The hoard will now be valued by experts at the British Museum and Mr Carrington and the landowner will split the decided value.