Oldest Gold Found: Iron Age Jewelry Discovered In Britain

Jerome Frank
March 3, 2017

A valuable stash of jewellery - which could be the oldest Iron Age gold ever discovered in Britain - has been found in Staffordshire. The two pieces, a necklace, and bracelet are made of twisted gold wire, while the other two have a molded finials, on the trumpet and the bracelet will also have a stunning feature Celtic decorations.

The pieces, all made from gold, were thought to be the oldest pieces found in Britain that hail back to the Iron Age, BBC News reported Tuesday.

Hambleton and Kania found the jewelry scattered about a meter (3.3 feet) apart, and just below the surface of the soil on farmland about 80 kilometers (50 miles) from the famous Anglo-Saxon "Staffordshire hoard" found in 2009, which included almost 4,000 items of precious metal valued at around £3.2 million ($3.9 million).

That seventh century find, which dates back to the Kingdom of Mercia, is made up of 3,900 pieces of precious metal, now on display in UK museums. "I was just about ready to give up for the day when Joe said he thought he had found something", said Mr Hambleton.

It is not known why the Leekfrith Iron Age Torcs were buried, but it could have been for safekeeping, an offering to the gods, or as an act of remembrance.

Dr. Julia Farley, curator of the British & European Iron Age Collections at the British Museum, assessed the items.

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The jewellery has been handed to the Portable Antiquities Scheme, which is part of Birmingham Museums.

"We weren't expecting to find anything", Hambleton told The Telegraph.

There are hopes the collection, thought to be from Europe and most likely Germany or France, can now be secured for Stoke as it bids to be 2021 UK City of Culture.

A preliminary valuation is due to take place, with the detectorists planning to split the value of their find 50/50 with the field's owner.

The gold items were found just below the ground in an area of moorland on a farm in the English county of Staffordshire. The discovery "is quite simply magical, and we look forward to sharing the secrets and story they hold in the years to come", Philip Atkins, the leader of the Staffordshire County Council, said in the statement. They were encouraged to get back into the hunt by Mr Hambleton's father, who sadly passed away not long after their find, though he did live to see his son's discovery.

"We weren't expecting to find anything".

Other reports by Guamnewswatch

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