London: A collection of stunning jewelry, unearthed by two metal detector enthusiasts, was described as the earliest example of Iron Age gold ever discovered in Britain.
The gold items were found just below the ground in an area of moorland on a farm in the English county of Staffordshire, Xinhua news agency reported.
The two gold-finders, Mark Hambleton and Joe Kania, were left speechless when they unearthed the artifacts on a cold winter’s day in December. The 2,500-year-old pieces had been lying just beneath the surface, all within a meter of each other.
Experts at the British Museum believe the gold jewelry, now named the Leekfrith Iron Age Torcs, could date back as far as 400 BC.
Said to be of “huge international importance,” the collection consists of a bracelet decorated with Celtic art and three necklaces. It is thought the jewelry originated in either Germany or France.
Julia Farley, curator of British and European Iron Age collections at the British Museum, who assessed the unique collection, said: “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,” she added.
One theory is the gold may have been buried in the ground for safekeeping, or alternatively as an offering to the gods as an act of remembrance after their owner died.
Archaeologists have carried out a study of the immediate site and say there is no evidence of any other pieces on the land.
Staffordshire is best known for its iconic pottery industry, with the area officially known as the Potteries. Little is known about Iron Age settlements in the county.
Philip Atkins, leader of Staffordshire County Council, said: “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.”
An official hearing is to be conducted by a coroner to determine whether the find should be declared as a treasure trove.