A METAL detector has launched an appeal to find the family of a 19th century farmer after unearthing a medal he won as a young man.

Martin Smith, 67, found the 130-year-old medal on farmland between Greenock and Kilmacolm Road.

The award was presented to James Gilmour after he took first prize in a hand ploughing contest in 1889 run by Erskine and Inchinnan Agricultural Society.

Martin, who lives in Broomhill, said: "The medal is in the junior class, it would be nice if we could trace the great-great grandchildren of James Gilmour.

"I would very much like to shake their hand and hand it over to them.

"I was pleased to find the medal.

"You can tell it is silver by the way it came out of the ground and how the machine reacts to it.

"It's a one-off and has been specially engraved and deserves to be with the Gilmour family."

Martin hails from Hull and has been searching for 'treasure' for five decades.

He said: "Metal detecting became a popular hobby in the 1970s and I was living in Hull at the time when I was an apprentice engineer ."

His best finds have been on the Isle of Mull where he lived for 14 years.

He said: "My two treasure trove artefacts are in the Edinburgh Museum.

"I found a medieval strap end and a bronze finger ring."

He and a couple of friends pursue their hobby usually in farmers fields, with permission from the owner, and along the beach at Battery Park.

But he says the oldest item he has found in Greenock dates back to the 18th century.

He said: "We depend on getting permission from farmers to search their land and we are very respectful.

"The timing has to be right and not during the lambing or sowing/ploughing season."

Martin says whoever comes forward would have to provide proof that they were related to Mr Gilmour.

He said: "He would have been pretty pleased to have won the medal, so there may be sepia photographs or documents relating to the competition.

"He may have also won it in other years.

"Farmhouses tend to be old buildings and there are full of old sepia pictures."

If anyone has information they should contact the Telegraph on 558928.