The earliest example of Iron Age gold jewellery has been found in a farmer’s field in Staffordshire.
The intricate jewellery collection, which has been named the Leekfrith Iron Age Torcs, was discovered by two metal detectorists – Mark Hambleton and Joa Kania – just before Christmas. The find includes four twisted gold torcs and a bracelet.
Unveiling the gold jewellery at a press conference on Tuesday experts revealed the gold jewellery could date back as far as 400BC and is of hugely significant international importance as it could reveal new details about the movement of Iron Age communities.
Experts also said these pieces would have been owned by wealthy powerful women who probably moved from continental Europe to marry rich Iron Age chiefs. Archaeologists believe the pieces may have been buried for safekeeping, or as an offering to a God, or act of remembrance for someone who had died.
After they were discovered the gold pieces were handed over to Portable Antiquities Scheme, part of Birmingham Museums, which then went on to manage the voluntary recording of finds.
Expert Dr Julia Farley, curator of British & European Iron Age collections for the British Museum has also assessed the collection.
Farley commented:“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.”
Archaeologists from Stoke-On-Trent City Council led the site investigations on the farmland in the Staffordshire Moorlands and say it is a “complete” find with no evidence of any other pieces on the land.
An inquest was held in North Staffordshire on 28 February 2017 and Coroner Ian Smith ruled that the pieces are treasure.