02/04/2013 07:33 BST | Updated 02/06/2013 06:12 BST

Spanish Farmer Discovers Rock Used To Cure Ham Is £3.4 Million Asteroid

A rock found by a Spanish farmer has been revealed to be an asteroid worth $5.3 million - 30 years since it was found and put to work as a press for curing meat.

Faustino Asensio Lopez found the 220-pound, 18-by-12-inch rock in 1980 while tending livestock with his father in their field, near Ciudad Real.

He assumed the rock was a remnant from Spain's civil war, and put it on the family's patio.

Eventually it was used as a ham press to cure meat.

But after he saw a TV show about meteorite sightings in Spain in 2011 he got in touch with a geologist - who was startled when Lopez showed him the prize object.

The rock turned out to be a pre-historic metallic meteorite, part of an asteroid or even a comet that hit the Earth.

The Spanish newspaper ABC said it was the fourth such meteorite to be found in spain - and the first since 1950.

Part of the asteroid is now on display in Madrid's Mining Museum, according to the New York Daily news. A fragment was used for testing, and a full-scale replica was made for public viewing.