Golf ball-sized pure gold nugget is ‘biggest ever found in UK waters’

It was hailed at the time as the largest chunk of gold found on British soil.

The 85.7g nugget was discovered by a man in Scotland four years ago this week while lying face down in a river in a process known as “sniping”, where people use snorkels to search riverbeds.

The plucky diver to find the lump of gold – which has been dubbed the “Douglas Nugget” – has never revealed their identity and only came forward to disclose the treasure two years on.

Perhaps that’s because their discovery is thought to have been almost unprecedented, and the biggest piece of gold found and reported in Britain in over 500 years.

Leon Kirk, a Scotland-based gold-panning expert, hailed the nugget as “rarer than a Fabergé egg”.

“Historically, it is off the Richter scale,” he said at the time.

“I would say it is worth at least £50,000 but, as it’s rarer than an Aston Martin or a Fabergé egg, a billionaire could easily come along and pay a lot more for it.”

Treasure seekers have been turning to the UK’s river network for hundreds – even thousands – of years in the hopes of finding gold.

Such is the promise, it was thought to be one of the key reasons Romans invaded Britain.

Flecks and chunks of gold, known as “alluvial gold”, have found their way into our waterways after being exposed though millennia of mining, erosion and natural disasters.

As gold is so dense, the nuggets sink straight to bottom and can lie for centuries unmoved by currents.

Following on from the discovery in Scotland, the exact location the huge nugget has never been made public to prevent hoards of treasure hunters turning up in a modern-day gold rush.

However, prime locations for finding your own gold – either through sniping or panning for flecks – are readily available.

The Lake District, Cornwall, the Forest of Dean, and rivers across the Pennines are your best hope if searching in England, while the Dolgellau Gold Belt in Snowdonia National Park, Wales, is still turning up pieces of gold to this day.

If searching closer to the source of the Douglas Nugget, Scotland’s best spots for finding gold are said to be in Dumfries and Galloway and Lanarkshire.