A group of friends had to alert the police after they made ‘shocking discovery at the bottom of a river.
Magnet fishing can be seen as an exciting way to uncover rare coins, jewellery and other long-lost items from the riverbeds.
But Dan Phillips, of Durrington, was surprised to pull up a wealth of World War One artefacts from the River Arun on Friday.
Accompanied by three friends – Luke Izard, Liam Farrow and Marlon Farrow – the team of amateur adventurers went to the river in Coldwatham to find out what lies beneath.
Using a large magnet tied to a piece of rope, the men threw it into the water and slowly dragged it back towards themselves.
Dan, 22, said: “At first we got some shotgun bullets, but after that we found two rifle barrels with the handles rusted on them.
“Then we found a full rifle.” Reeling in rotten weapons and ammunition, the friends were excited when they caught what appeared to be the largest item – the friends had stumbled upon a World War One artillery shell.
He said: “I didn’t know what it was until I held it in my hands.
“We put it down, as you can imagine, then we called the police.”
“Everyone was a bit shocked. It’s not what you expect to find when you throw a magnet into a river.”
A police officer arrived and after one look at the antique weapon, more officers were called to the scene.
“They all then called the bomb disposal,” said Dan.
Although the friends did not hang around to see what happened to the unexploded shell, they were asked to hand over their finds from that day, with the exception of two rifle barrels, which they were allowed to take home.
Ultimately, the men uncovered several gun barrels, 53 unfired shotgun bullets, two unfired rifle bullets, a war rifle and a large artillery shell. After their exploits on Friday, Dan said the four had developed a taste for magnet fishing and will continue to explore riverbeds to see what else they can find.
“We now love it and we have been doing it ever since,” he added.
Anyone who discovers old shells or similar items should contact Sussex Police in case items are still live.
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