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Britain's largest gold nugget

Vincent, pictured at the coast of Anglesey, where he made the discovery



Vincent Thurkettle from Somerset, South West England is a dedicated treasure hunter and gold prospector who now holds the record of finding the largest gold nugget in the U.K, weighing 97.12 grams (3 oz).
The find was made in 2012 near the shipwreck of the Royal Charter, off the coast of Anglesey,  Northwest Wales, but kept a secret until recently to allow him to search the area thoroughly, undisturbed.
At age 16 Vincent left school and trained as a Chartered Forester, following his studies worked for the Forestry Commission.  He had a keen interest in treasure hunting, also wanted to write a book and in 2005, after filling the position of Deputy Director, decided to retire from his job to pursue his dreams, which he both full filled by making several very valuable finds and writing a book named The Wood Fire Handbook.
He describes his passion for treasure hunting: “Every little speck  of gold I’ve found around the world has been a thrill – the campfires I’ve sat around, the people I’ve met, the places. For me it is genuinely the adventure and lifestyle rather than the desire."

The gold nugget pictured next to a Ten Pence coin.  It contains pieces of granite.

The Royal Charter was a robust, speedy iron-hulled steam clipper built in 1855.  Ideal for the challenging Liverpool - Australia route, often plagued by devastating storms.
In 1851 a discovery of gold in Victoria resulted in a gold rush and many people were travelling to and from Britain to Australia and often passengers returned with their finds.
During a return trip to Liverpool in 1959 there was a cargo of 79 000 ounces of gold, which was insured for an estimated £120 million according to today's value,  plus more by miner passengers.
The ship encountered a violent storm off the coast of Anglesey near the village of Moelfre. The captain thought it feasible to drop anchor in Moelfre Bay, lowered the sails and shut down
the engines with hope that northerly winds would drive the ship towards North Wales.
This  decision proved to be fateful as the ship ended up assaulted by the roughest part of the storm, the anchor chain broke and finally the ship crashed onto rocks, broke apart and sank. Only 39 people from the 450 passanger made it ashore.

Reacreation of the Royal Charter on that fateful day
   
The owners of the ship and insurance underwriters embarked on a salvage operation to try to recover as much as they could of the valuable cargo, this continued for years and after 80% was recovered, it was officially declared concluded.  Following this treasure hunters started searching the area and throughout the years discovered more of the lost gold.
Anything found close to a shipwreck are reported to the Receiver of Wreck. They do research to establish who the owner may be and then determine where it should go.  If a year goes by with no avail to determine ownership, any such finds are claimed by the crown, but by law the finder is entitled to a finder's fee.  Vincent’s find is valued at £50 000.  The value is determined not only by the gold material, but also the original shape and history. It is expected to be put on display in a museum.
The second largest gold nuggest found in Britain is the Carnon Nugget, which weighs 59g and was found in Cornwall in 1808 and the Rutherford Nugget, found in Scotland in 1869, 57.9g  holds the 3rd place.


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