There are lots of places on Earth that are likely more famous for some of the pieces of fiction in which they’re featured. If you were to visit the pyramids of Egypt, for example, it’d be difficult not to instantly imagine Cleopatra.

The same goes for Sherwood Forest in England. It’s very real (not to mention very large), but most people still associate it with stories of Robin Hood and his Merry Men! Though it’s most well-known for that legend, that doesn’t mean Sherwood Forest isn’t home to its own rich—and non-fictional—history.

In fact, one man who visited the English forest recently was there for just 20 minutes before he discovered something extraordinary and worthy of its own tale…

The beautiful Sherwood Forest of Nottinghamshire, England is probably most commonly associated all over the world with medieval tales of the legendary outlaw Robin Hood, who famously “robbed from the rich and gave to the poor.”

David Telford / Wikimedia Commons

Dating back to the 13th century, it’s difficult for many modern historians to pinpoint how real he actually was. One theory even posits that there were two Robin Hoods! Whatever the case, the mythology surrounding him elevated Sherwood Forest to a place of magic and mystery in the hearts of many.

KTC / Wikimedia Commons

As legendary as the story of Robin Hood is, though, it’s easy to forget that Sherwood Forest is, indeed, a real place that encompasses more than 1,000 acres. Not only that, but it’s also full of surprises, as one man recently found out firsthand…

KTC / Wikimedia Commons

Aside from retaining its fairy tale-like loveliness, it was in these woods that, in late 2016, a medieval ring that is believed to have originated in the 14th century was found. It was estimated to be worth up to $87,000!

The lucky duck who found it was 34-year-old Mark Thompson, who spray paints fork lift trucks for a living. He discovered the centuries-old ring with his metal detector. He’d only been looking in the famous forest for a mere 20 minutes before the machine’s alarm went off!

Mark had only been metal detecting as a hobby for a year-and-a-half, and he certainly didn’t think he’d find anything so valuable. He would have been lucky if he had found some lost coins, but this was something else entirely!

Yet when his device started making noise and he dug through the dirt, he saw an intricate ring with a sapphire jewel at the center. Soon after, he started talking to auctioneers about how to best make a profit from the discovery.

If the ring is indeed worth as much as auctioneers say it is—about 70,000 British pounds—that would certainly be a life-changing amount of money. Mark was renting his home, but he said he might use the money to buy a house.

Regional finds liaisons officer Dot Boughton said that the ring was similar to the stone used on the tomb of William Wytlesey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury. The Archbishop died in 1374, and the ring has a female saint engraved on one side and an infant Christ on the other.

It’s impossible not to wonder what kind of history this medieval ring might have. Even if it has no relation to Robin Hood whatsoever, it’s still a truly incredible find. Hopefully, Mark makes as much money off of this as he deserves. Who knows? Maybe he’ll decide to be a modern-day Robin Hood himself and give some of his profits to charity!

The way that fortune smiled upon Mark is truly the stuff of legends. Who knows what’ll be found next in this legendary forest?

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