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Anglo-Saxon treasure found in Norfolk field saved for nation and will go on show at Norwich Castle

PUBLISHED: 16:37 04 June 2018 | UPDATED: 16:41 04 June 2018

The Anglo-Saxon pendant and other finds from the Winfarthing grave assemblage. Pic: Norfolk Museums Service.

The Anglo-Saxon pendant and other finds from the Winfarthing grave assemblage. Pic: Norfolk Museums Service.

Norfolk Museums Service

A nationally-significant Anglo-Saxon gold treasure found in a Norfolk field has been saved for the nation following a fundraising appeal.

A treasure emerges: The stunning Anglo-Saxon pendant emerges from the Norfolk mud. Pic: Tom Lucking.A treasure emerges: The stunning Anglo-Saxon pendant emerges from the Norfolk mud. Pic: Tom Lucking.

And the former University of East Anglia student who discovered the seventh-century gold and garnet jewellery is more than £70,000 better off, because his find was declared as treasure trove.

The grave assemblage was unearthed by metal-detecting student Tom Lucking in a field at Winfarthing, near Diss, in 2014.

The grave included a necklace made up of two gold beads, two pendants made from identical Merovingian coins and a gold cross pendant inlaid with delicate filigree wire.

But most remarkable was a large pendant worn lower down on the woman’s chest. Made of gold, it has hundreds of tiny garnets inlaid into it, with interlacing beasts and geometrical shapes.

University of East Anglia student Tom Lucking.
 Picture: ANTONY KELLYUniversity of East Anglia student Tom Lucking. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Comparable to gold and garnet jewellery from Sutton Hoo and the Staffordshire Hoard, it marks its wearer out as having been of the highest social status in life, and through wearing a cross, among the earliest Anglo-Saxon converts to Christianity.

The find was declared Treasure under the 1996 Treasure Act and was valued by the government’s independent Treasure Valuation Committee at £145,050, which prompted a public appeal by the Friends of Norwich Museums to raise the money to save it.

With help from a grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF), Art Fund and the Friends of Norwich Museums, the money has been raised and it will go on display at Norwich Castle.

If the money had not been raised, the find could have been split up and auctioned off.

The money raised will be shared between Mr Lucking and the landowner.

Dr Tim Pestell, senior curator of archaeology at Norwich Castle, said “This find is an exceptional example of the type of jewellery restricted to a few women of high status in seventh century England and is the female counterpart to the sort of male war-gear found in the Staffordshire Hoard and at Sutton Hoo.

“This burial can be linked with two other rich female graves from the early Kingdom of East Anglia, excavated at Harford Farm, Caistor-by-Norwich and Boss Hall near Ipswich. This raises the intriguing possibility that these ladies all knew one another in life and were quite possibly related.”

Stephen Deuchar, director of Art Fund, said: “It is rare when treasure of this quality is found intact – so Art Fund is really pleased that the Winfarthing find is now joining the collection of Norwich Castle Museum, near to where it has lain for centuries. It will add to the already rich narrative of Norfolk and promises to be of great interest to visitors.”

Chris Sanham, chair of the Friends of Norwich Museums, who helped run the fund-raising appeal, said: “We were thrilled by the public’s enthusiasm that this wonderful find should be saved and are delighted by the news that Norwich Castle has succeeded in securing the remaining funding for this very special treasure. It can now stay in the county of its discovery and be appreciated by everyone.”

And Sir Peter Luff, chair of NHMF, said: “This is a rare and exquisite find. Its combination of outstanding workmanship and insight in to the emergence of Anglo-Saxon elites and royalty - a pivotal moment in the British history - meant we at the National Heritage Memorial Fund felt it imperative to help save it.”

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