A LANDSCAPE gardener from Chester could net a small fortune after finding a rare Anglo-Saxon stone among a load of rubble.
John Wyatt, from Chester, paid £50 for the pick-up load of ‘natural stone’ that he saw advertised in the city.
On getting home he began to clean the load and noticed the carving.
Now the piece of international importance will go under the hammer on Friday at Duke’s of Dorchester, Dorset, with an estimate of £10,000.
The Anglo-Saxon stone, which measures 21.5 x 15.5 inches, has a Celtic cross on one side and a mythical bird-like beast with interlaced wings on the other.
It has been identified as an extremely rare Anglo-Saxon stone marker, but other scholars have suggested it may form part of a cross-slab from an early Christian monument. It is possible it was smashed by Viking marauders as an act of defiance against the Christian population.
John, 32, said: “I was doing a bit of work in my own garden and saw an advert for some natural stone.
“I phoned the people up and went to collect it. There must have been a tonne and a half and I paid about £50 for the lot.
“The stones were covered in mud and moss and when I got home I saw what I thought was the tail of the dragon on one of them. It was lucky I was looking.
“I cleaned it off and realised it was carved. It looked like some of the things you see in museums so I contacted a museum and the archaeologists got very excited.
“No one could really say exactly what it was but they knew it was important.
“I did a bit of my own research and saw that Duke’s had auctioned something similar so I gave them a ring and am looking forward to the sale.
“I don’t mind if it doesn’t sell but if it does I’ll put it towards the mortgage.”
Guy Schwinge, from Duke’s, said: “The Anglo-Saxon stone is an important find and the stylistic vocabulary on the cross is indicative of an Anglo-Saxon origin and it probably dates from the 9th or 10th century.
“We are fortunate John noticed the carving and realised it could be something important or it might have spent another 1,000 years lying around without anyone realising what it was.
“Previously we sold a Renaissance statue discovered in a garden shed for £250,000.”
Also at the sale is another amazing garden find, a Roman sarcophagus discovered in Oxfordshire that had been used as a giant plant pot. It has an estimate of £25,000.
The sale is on Friday December 5.