A "hugely important" Viking artefact that was found in Norfolk and worth thousands of pounds has sold at auction. 

Jason Jones, 44, made the find while searching a field near Watton in January with his family. 

Mr Jones, a construction industry worker from Norwich, had previously found two silver coins in the same area and was using a backup machine at the time of the discovery after his main detector had run out of battery. 

"I returned to the area where the coins were found and got a loud signal," he said.

Watton & Swaffham Times: Jason Jones made the find in a field near Watton while detecting with his familyJason Jones made the find in a field near Watton while detecting with his family (Image: PA)

"At a depth of just two inches, I found an unusual bronze object.

"Neither my wife nor I had any idea what it could be, but that evening after posting a picture on Facebook we realised it was Viking in date and notified the local archaeologist to have it recorded."

The artefact, a bronze die, would have been used as a decorative motif on military helmets, similar to those seen on the famous Sutton Hoo helmet.

READ MORE: Rare gold coin dating back to Emperor Claudius’ invasion of Britain found in Norfolk

Nigel Mills, a coins and artefacts specialist at Noonans, said: "The object is an intricate 11th-century Urnes style ornamentation possibly representing the world tree Yggdrasil with the monstrous serpent Nidhogg intertwining within its roots.

"The die would have been used to make a stamped foil of thin metal which would display the pressed-out image."

Watton & Swaffham Times: The bronze artefact sold for £15,000 at Noonans in LondonThe bronze artefact sold for £15,000 at Noonans in London (Image: PA)

Estimated to be worth around £24,000, the artefact was displayed in a sale of ancient coins and antiquities at Noonans in Mayfair on Wednesday. 

It sold for £15,000 which Mr Jones said he is going to share with the landowner and use his share to support his family. 

Also in the sale was a rare gold aureus coin which had been found in a field near Diss that sold for £4,000.