Two Treasure hunters have found an incredible cache ancient gold artifacts. The pair using only metal detectors located the antiquities in a farmers field in December. Mark Hambleton and Joe Kania found what has been described by experts at the British Museum as some of the earliest examples of Iron Age gold ever discovered in Britain.
The men found the four torcs, which are a style of ancient necklace or bracelet, on farmland located in Staffordshire. The items have since been turned over tot the Portable Antiquities Scheme, which is funded by the U.K. Government. Following an examination of the artifacts, the items which have been dubbed, “The Leek Frith Torcs”, have tentatively been dated to as far back as 400 B.C. and could be the earliest examples of Iron Age gold ever discovered in Britain.
The group, which is made up of three neck torcs and one bracelet, are believed to have originally come from continental Europe, possibly Germany or France. The curator of the British & European Iron Age Collections at the British Museum, Dr. Julia Farley, examined the items and issued this assessment: “This unique find is of international importance. It dates to around 400–250 BC, and is probably the earliest Iron Age gold work ever discovered in Britain. The torcs were probably worn by wealthy and powerful women, perhaps people from the continent who had married into the local community. Piecing together how these objects came to be carefully buried in a Staffordshire field will give us an invaluable insight into life in Iron Age Britain.”
Following the initial discovery, a follow-up site survey located in the Staffordshire Moorlands area was conducted by local by archaeologists from the Stoke-On-Trent City Council. Following their investigation, the find was determined to be complete meaning there was no evidence of other pieces. The BBC reports that the pieces will be on display at the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery in Stoke for the next three weeks.
Officials said that a hearing had been held and the pieces had been declared to be treasure. That means that they automatically become the property of the British State, but the UK Government’s Treasure Valuation Committee will offer a payment or recovery fee to the men that found the items in addition to the landowner where the discovery was made, and any museum that wants to acquire the torcs, according to the BBC. After a value is agreed upon, the museum will have to raise the funds to pay for the artifacts. Hambleton and Kania say they will share the proceeds with the landowner.