Buried Treasure Could Be Oldest Iron Age Gold Ever Found In Britain

An offering to the Gods?

A collection of buried treasure found in Staffordshire could be the oldest Iron Age gold ever discovered in Britain.

The haul, which has been named the Leekfrith Iron Age Torcs, was uncovered by two treasure hunters in December 2016 on farmland in the parish of Leekfrith, in the Staffordshire Moorlands.

The four torcs, three necklaces and one bracelet, were found separately about one metre apart and buried just beneath the surface.

Experts believe the items could be around 2,500 years old
Experts believe the items could be around 2,500 years old

Experts believe they were made in the third or fourth century BC, making them approximately 2,500 years old.

The treasure was found about 45 miles north of Hammerwich, near Lichfield, the site of the 2009 discovery of the Staffordshire Hoard.

The largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold ever found is perhaps the most famous discovery made by a metal detectorist.

The seventh century find, which dates back to the Kingdom of Mercia, is made up of 3,900 pieces of precious metal.

It is not know why they were buried
It is not know why they were buried

It was valued at £3.3 million by experts at the time, and is on display at various museums around the UK.

The hoard contains mainly military items, in comparison with the jewellery which makes up the more recent discovery.

The decoration on the Leekfrith bracelet is thought to be some of the earliest Celtic art from Britain.

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

The haul was discovered by Mark Hambleton and Joe Kania
The haul was discovered by Mark Hambleton and Joe Kania

The find was spotted by lifelong friends Mark Hambleton and Joe Kania.

Mr Hambleton used to go metal detecting when he was younger with his father, who told him to resurrect his old hobby after hearing he had started fishing.

He told the Press Association: “I am so glad we took his advice and pleased of course that he got the chance to see these amazing pieces and prove he was right all along.”

The pair have said they plan to split any proceeds with the farming family which owns the 640 acres of land where the find was made.

Dr Julia Farley, curator of British and European Iron Age collections for the British Museum, said: “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.”

Staffordshire County Council leader Philip Atkins said: “As a county and as a council we are both proud and unbelievably lucky to be home to some truly exceptional finds, including of course the Staffordshire Hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold.

“This amazing find of gold torcs in the north of the county is quite simply magical and we look forward to sharing the secrets and story they hold in the years to come.”

The finds, which were probably made in Europe, have been handed over to the Portable Antiquities Scheme, part of Birmingham Museums, which manages the voluntary recording of finds.

An inquest will be held at 11am in North Staffordshire, where coroner Ian Smith will rule if the pieces are treasure.

The pieces will then be provisionally valued by an expert.


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