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The 54 pieces, including ancient Greek, Roman, Romano-British, Byzantine, Viking and medieval jewels, were gathered in the late 1950s and early ‘60s by the grandfather of the Cambridgeshire vendor. He had been a travelling engineer working for the Gas Board and is thought to have bought many of them at auction.

It was quantity that made this such an notable offering but, alongside typical metal detector finds priced in the £200-500 bracket, a number of clear highlights emerged.

A series of 2nd and 3rd century Roman intaglio rings with granulated gold mounts proved popular, with bids of £2200 tendered twice: for a garnet intaglio with the standing figure of Victory and another in carnelian depicting Aphrodite. The distinctive bust carved to a similar ring was identified as Vibia Sabina, the youngest daughter of Emperor Marcus Aurelius who married Emperor Hadrian in 100AD. It took £2100.

Leading the collection at £3600 (estimate £1800-2000) was a particularly fine Hellenistic gold ring set with four cabochon garnets.

The auction took place on June 28.