A SILVER grooming implement found in Markyate by an amateur archaeologist earlier this year could date from the 15th Century, according to the British Museum.

The medieval silver ear scoop was found on farmland by Luton man Mark Coles in January while he was metal detecting with the permission of the landowner.

In accordance with the Treasure Act 1996, Mr Coles reported his find to the Verulamium Museum in St Albans, which in turn arranged to have it examined by the British Museum in London.

The ear scoop was officially declared treasure by coroner Edward Thomas at an inquest at Hatfield Coroner's Court last week. Despite its name, a report by Dr Dora Thornton at the British Museum said the 6.3cm-long implement was probably used for cleaning nails. Dr Thornton said a recent book published about dress accessories used between 11.50 and 1450 had identified a similar item as being from the 15th Century.

Mr Thomas said Mr Coles had acted "very responsibly" in reporting his find within 14 days, a legal requirement when potential treasure is unearthed. A valuation committee will now decide how much the object is worth, and Mr Thomas said he expected it would be acquired by a local museum.