From my roving antiquarian reporter:
Amateur treasure hunter finds £25,000 bejewelled cross in field with metal detector
A keen treasure hunter has struck gold, after his metal detector guided him to a rare Anglo-Saxon cross in the middle of a muddy farmer’s field.
The stunning pure gold artefact was set with red gemstones and dates from the 7th century. It may have originally held a relic such as bone from a Disciple or fragment of the Cross.
Measuring just over an inch long, the finely decorated 18 carat gold is worth at least £25,000.
A treasure hunter found an Anglo-Saxon cross in a field in Nottinghamshire
It is English made with gold probably melted down from Merovingian French coins.
Two of the red cabochon gemstones are missing as is the relic that would have been kept in its centre.
The red stones are among the world’s most ancient gems and were used by ancient Greeks who called them granatum, the same word they used for pomegranate seeds.
The anonymous finder discovered the 1,400-year-old cross just 12 inches beneath the sod on a farm in Nottinghamshire.
He had already unearthed a Saxon penny and beaten copper plate before probing deeper.
‘Instinctively I put down the digger and scraped gently at the soil with my gloved hand,’ he said.
‘Then I made contact with a piece of metal that made me want to remove my glove. It seemed warm, almost alive, to my touch.
‘My fingers closed on it and when I opened them I was gazing down, literally with my jaw dropped in astonishment, at the most wonderful find I’ve ever recovered.
‘The actual moment of the discovery remains as sharp as ever in my memory, but the remainder of the day, even the next few days, have since become a blur thanks to my excitement.’
The bejewelled cross may have been worn as a pendant
The finder rushed to show his find to the farm’s owner.
‘Farmers being farmers, he didn’t show quite the same excitement as he might have displayed if I’d shown him a prize-winning cow, but he seemed quite pleased,’ he said.
He handed the find to a coroner who declared it as treasure trove at an inquest. This means the finder will get half the proceeds of a sale. He is likely to split his earnings with the farmer.
The specific location of the find is being kept secret for fear that so-called ‘nighthawks’ will descend on it in case there is anything else to be found.