British archaeologists have unearthed the remains of a previously unknown Anglo-Saxon island, the University of Sheffield announced.

Hailed as one of the most important archaeological finds in the UK in decades, the island was located in the village of Little Carlton, near Louth, Lincolnshire.

Once home to a Middle Saxon settlement, the site was first discovered by Graham Vickers, a local metal detector hobbyist. While searching a plowed field, Vickers found a silver stylus, which is an ornate writing tool dating from the eighth century.

That was just the first of many intriguing items that were to emerge from the field.

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After alerting England’s Portable Antiquities Scheme, Vickers returned to the site and unearthed hundreds of other artifacts, recording their location with a GPS system.

The items include another 20 styli, about 300 dress pins, a huge number of “sceattas” – coins from the 7th-8th centuries – and a small lead tablet bearing the female Anglo-Saxon name, Cudberg.

Later, a team from the University of Sheffield found bones of a butchered animal and Saxon pottery.

“This is a site of international importance,” Hugh Willmott, from the university’s department of archaeology, said in a statement.

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It is thought the settlement might have been an island monastery or a trading center, but archaeologists have just begun investigating it.

Using geophysical and magnetometry surveys along with 3D modelling, the researchers digitally restored the water level of the island to its higher medieval state.

“It is enclosed between a basin and a ditch,” Willmott told The Guardian.

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“It was a focal point in the Lincolnshire area, connected to the outside world through water courses,” he added.

Students from the University have subsequently opened nine evaluation trenches at the site, exposing an area which seems to have been used for industrial working.

“It’s clearly a very high-status Saxon site … it’s clearly not your everyday find,” Willmott said.