Treasure hunters on brink of unearthing huge £15bn hoard hidden for 1,000 years

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A team of treasure hunters are "on the brink" of unearthing a hidden £15billion worth of gold, jewels and artefacts in Finland.

If the 'Lemminkainen Hoard' is found, it is rumoured to be the largest and most valuable haul to ever be discovered.

The group, dubbed the "Temple Twelve", began searching in 1987 and have dedicated six hours a day, seven days a week over many summers in search of the treasure.

Members of the group have travelled from all over the world including Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, Australia, Russia, America and Germany.

The existence of the treasure was first acknowledged in 1984 when landowner Ior Bock claimed his family were direct descendants of Lemminkäinen, who are figures in Finnish pagan mythology.

Bock said the chamber on his large estate was sealed up with huge stone slabs in the 10th-Century to protect the treasures from invaders.

He revealed the resistance of the temple because he did not want the story to die with his family.

Bock, who was quadriplegia from an earlier stabbing in his life, was killed by his former assistants in 2010 but the excavation continued following his death.

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It is believed to have more than 50,000 gemstones including rubies, sapphires, emeralds and diamonds.

The treasure is also thought to contain at least 1,000 artefacts dating back thousands of years and several 18-carat gold life-size statues in human form.

This treasure is allegedly stashed within the massive Sibbosberg cave system, which is 20 miles east of the Finnish capital Helsinki.

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The huge treasure is said to be entombed in an underground temple in Sipoo.

For three decades there have been countless official explorations with more than 100 professional prospectors from across the world trying to get their hands on the treasure.

The group of "penniless" friends now believe they are just metres away from hitting where the treasure is and believe next summer will be the moment of truth.

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From the original group of 24, which included 12 men and 12 women, only two members remain on the team since the excavation work first started on the cave system in 1987.

Carl Borgen is the world's leading authority on the Lemminkainen Hoard and has chronicled the lives of the Temple Twelve and their bounty in his book called "Temporarily Insane".

The 60-year-old historian and author said: "I understand that significant progress at the temple has been made and that the crew are feeling especially excited about the months ahead.

"There is now talk in the camp of being on the brink of a major breakthrough, which in real terms could be the discovery of the world's largest and most valuable treasure trove."

The team will return to the site in May next year and work on the site in September.

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