A GOLD nugget found just 40 miles from Hereford and believed to be the largest ever found in England has failed to sell at auction after being unearthed by a metal detectorist.

The 64.8g metal lump was discovered by Richard Brock, 67, on farmland near Much Wenlock, in Shropshire, in May last year.

Named ‘Hiro’s Nugget’ after his wife, the piece of gold was expected to fetch between £30,000-£40,000 when it went under the hammer at Mullock Jones.

However, bids reached just £12,000 before the online auction closed on Monday (April 1) although auctioneers say they are still hopeful it can be sold.

Auctioneer Ben Jones told BBC Radio Shropshire: "I'm sure we'll have an influx of people coming in, which is usually the case post-auction anyway.

"You always take a gamble with these things, and sometimes you just have to see how they ride and play it out, really.

"[In the] last couple of minutes there were a few bids being placed, and you sit there thinking, 'This could go a bit more'.

"We'll have a chat to the bidders and speak to the vendor, and see if there's something we can do."

Mr Brock told how he had travelled three-and-a-half hours from his home in Somerset to join an organised expedition on farmland in the Shropshire Hills.

He turned up an hour late and on arrival found he had difficulty with his detecting kit meaning he had to resort to using a faulty old machine which was "pretty much kaput".

But just 20 minutes later he struck gold and unearthed the nugget, which was buried around five or six inches in the ground.

Believed to be the biggest find of its kind on English soil, the previous largest was 54g. One found in Scotland in 2017 weighed more than 85g.

Dad-of-four Richard said: "I drove three-and-a-half hours to Shropshire and I actually arrived about an hour late, thinking I'd missed the action.

"Everyone there had all this up-to-date kit and I bowled up with three old machines, and one of them packed in there and then. "At first I just found a few rusty old tent pegs with this back-up detector which had a fading screen display.

"But after only 20 minutes of scanning the ground I found this nugget buried about five of six inches down in the ground.

"The machine I was using was pretty much kaput - it was only half working. 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.

"I'm going to split whatever it sells for with the land owner. I found it last May but I've only recently learned it could be the biggest - it is quite incredible really."

Retired cameraman Richard had planned to split the proceeds of the sale with the landowner.

He added: "Upon doing some research, we could only find bigger than this in Wales and Scotland.

"The last one which claimed to be bigger in England was 54 grams but mine is 64.8 grams, so we're pretty confident its the biggest found on English soil.

"It's quite incredible really."