A WETSUIT-clad treasure hunter has literally struck gold on a beach near Westward Ho!
Merlin Cadogan, 40, from Northam uncovered a gold nugget buried deep beneath the sand at South Gut last Monday.
The escapologist, who reached the semi-finals of Britain’s Got Talent in 2009, was using his trusty metal detector, Excalibur when he discovered the hefty gold nugget.
He said: “I was wading in the water just over waist depth when I got a good signal.
“I started digging, shook the sand scoop. I heard a clunking noise and there was a massive gold nugget.
“When I lifted it out of the water I couldn’t believe my eyes, it was unbelievable. It was one of those once in a life time finds. It was mental.”
The gold chunk weighed 37.7g. Merlin said: “I couldn’t believe it, it is massive and so heavy.
“I am just going to hold on to it for a while. It is beautiful to look at, it is a really gorgeous shape. I couldn’t believe my luck.
“I took it to a jewellers and it is definitely gold but they couldn’t say what carat. I tested it myself and it is purer than 18 carats.”
Merlin believes it was the second biggest nugget to be found in the country.
Over the years Merlin has uncovered more than 1,000 coins including an 1810 Spanish coin as well as a silver 1933 cigarette case and hundreds of rings, necklaces and bracelets.
Merlin said his hobby had even helped people find lost jewellery. He said: “I helped a family find a necklace on Instow beach.
“I also helped someone find their wedding and engagement ring in Newquay. They gave me £20 to say thank you.
“I get rid of any rubbish I find like tin cans and ring pulls which are polluting our beaches.
“It is great, I have lived here all my lift and it is nice to give something back.”
According to www.uk.ask.com the price of gold per gram depends on the carat.
The website indicates that 18ct gold could be worth £17.30 per gram which means if Merlin is correct the nugget could be worth around £657.