Scotland

UK's 'largest' gold nugget discovered in Scottish river

The Reunion Nugget Image copyright Lee Palmer/pictureexclusive.com
Image caption The Reunion Nugget is in two parts and weighs a total of 121.3g

A gold hunter claims to have discovered the UK's largest gold nugget in a Scottish river.

The lump of pure gold, which weighs 121.3g (4.2 oz), was unearthed in a mystery location in May this year.

The two pieces form a doughnut shape and could be worth £80,000. The previous largest find, in 2016, was the 85.7g (3oz) Douglas Nugget.

However, gold panning experts are remaining sceptical until its provenance can be confirmed.

The treasure was discovered in two pieces but fits together perfectly, earning it the name The Reunion Nugget.

The gold-panning community is renowned for its secrecy, and the name of the river where it was found has not been revealed. The lucky finder is also remaining anonymous.

'Remarkable find'

The finder brought the discovery to the attention of author Lee Palmer who was researching his book Gold Occurrences In The UK.

Mr Palmer, 50, said: "This is now the largest nugget in existence in the UK. When you look at it, it's doughnut-shaped.

"There are no impurities in it, it is just pure gold nugget of about 22 carats. It really is a remarkable find."

The nugget was found using the method of "sniping", which sees gold hunters lying face down in a river while wearing a snorkel and dry suit.

The enthusiast unearthed the larger piece first, which weighs 89.6g (3.1oz), before finding the other half, weighing 31.7g (1,1oz) 10 minutes later.

Mr Palmer said: "The man just threw the bigger piece in his bucket with the rest of his stuff - he knew it was big but didn't realise how big.

Image copyright Lee Palmer/pictureexclusive.com
Image caption The Reunion Nugget could be the largest unearthed in the UK

"He found the second nugget 30cm (12in) away and chucked that in his bucket too.

"It wasn't until a couple of days later that he had a look at them and realised how big they were and that they fitted together."

He added: "The hole in the middle could have been caused by a strike off a rock or glacier.

"One mineralogist thought it looked like an entry and exit hole that could've been made with a neolithic antler pick, which were used by farmers in the Iron Age."

Both the finder of the nugget and the owner of the land where it was discovered are keeping their identities secret due to its magnitude.

Mr Palmer hopes it will be purchased by either the National Museum Of Scotland or the Natural History Museum, but legally it may have to be handed over to The Crown Estate.

'Perfect fit'

He believes the fact it is in two pieces should not affect its value.

Mr Palmer said: "From the top you could say it looks like two bits, but when you see it from underneath, it's a perfect fit.

"It's like an exact jigsaw, there's no disputing it.

"Even if you took the largest individual piece, it is still the biggest one in the UK.

"Add together the second piece and the story behind it and you've got something amazing."

The Douglas Nugget holds the current record for the largest gold nugget found in the UK for 500 years.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Both the Reunion Nugget and the Douglas Nugget were found in Scottish rivers using the process of "sniping"

In a similar story, it was discovered in a Scottish river by a man in his 40s.

He kept quiet for two years before publicly revealing his incredible find.

Gold panning expert Leon Kirk said he was not going to get too excited just yet.

He told BBC Scotland: "Unfortunately the world of gold is very divisive. If someone finds a nugget it is not necessarily true.

"This has come out of the blue and there is no confirmed provenance.

"I would like to think it is real but it can take many months to establish if it is genuine and at the moment there is no proof."

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