More details about Dereham gravedigger’s amazing Anglo Saxon find at Pentney churchyard resurface

Gravedigger William King, from Dereham, in Pentney church yard where he found the six Anglo Saxon br

Gravedigger William King, from Dereham, in Pentney church yard where he found the six Anglo Saxon brooches. - Credit: Archant

More details have emerged about one of Norfolk's most intriguing archaeological finds.

The Pentney Brooches. Picture: Trustees of the British Museum

The Pentney Brooches. Picture: Trustees of the British Museum - Credit: Archant

We reported on Monday the story of how a gravedigger discovered six silver brooches while working in the churchyard at Pentney, near King's Lynn in 1977, which, three years later were discovered to be worth a small fortune.

The story has resurfaced as three of the brooches have gone on display at Lynn Museum.

Today we can report that the gravedigger was named William King, and lived in Dereham.

Mr King, who died several years ago, was awarded £135,000 - more than £600,000 in today's money - after an inquest declared the brooches treasure trove.

St. Mary Magdalene Church, Pentney. Picture: Ian Burt

St. Mary Magdalene Church, Pentney. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt


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Retired Dereham doctor and history enthusiast Adrian Caro, 75, remembers the story.

He said: 'William used the money to buy his council house in the Moorgate Estate, where he continued to live, treated his dog to a new collar and went back to digging graves.

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'He also gave quite a bit to Pentney church so the roof could get repaired.'

He added: 'After William found the brooches he didn't realise the value of them, but he put them into his lunch box along with his name and address and it's lucky that he did that or he would have been forgotten about.'

The brooches were kept in the vestry chest for safekeeping.

In 1980, a new vicar took over. When he saw the relics, he realised their significance.

So he sent them to the British Museum, where experts said they were fashioned by Anglo-Saxon silversmiths in the 9th century.

Mr King was one of Mr Caro's patients, He also did some gardening work for the retired doctor who, secured Mr King's permission to tell his story during lectures on local history.

Mr Caro said: 'He didn't go off and buy a big fancy house and the money didn't change him.

'He was a very kind, nice and honest man - a real salt of the earth type and he deserved this bit of luck.'

The British Museum has loaned two of the brooches to the Lynn Museum, which will have them on show until the end of next month.

It was believed the brooches, which feature intricate silverwork, were fashioned between 780 and 800AD.

The exhibition is open until February 25. Admission to the museum, which also includes Seahenge and displays featuring life in west Norfolk through the centuries, is free.

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