Fundraising push to buy £145,000 treasure find unearthed by Norfolk student

05 December 2017

Historians are launching a fundraising appeal to buy nationally significant treasure found by a Norfolk student, to ensure it can stay in the county and go on display in Norwich Castle.

Anglo-Saxon grave assemblage unearthed in Winfarthing has now been valued at £145,050.  It was discovered by UEA student Tom Lucking, while he was using a metal detector in December 2014.  It was excavated archaeologically a few weeks later, with support from members of Norfolk County Council’s Find Identification and Recording Service, based at Gressenhall, led by Dr Andrew Rogerson.

The castle now has three months to raise the money to keep the finds, which include the significant large gold and garnet pendant, in the county.  The fundraising push is being led by the Friends of Norwich Museums.

Chair of the Friends, Francesca Makins, said: “We are delighted to assist Norwich Castle in the fundraising appeal for this wonderful and precious treasure.  Found in Norfolk, this delicate jewel is a reminder of the wealth and sophistication of the East Anglian kingdom and deserves to stay in the county of its discovery.  We encourage anyone able to assist us in saving this spectacular artefact for Norwich Castle.”

The grave proved to be the burial of a high-status lady buried between about AD 650-675.  First discovered through the detection of a bronze bowl buried at the lady’s feet, other grave-goods included a broke Frankish (Continental) pottery jar, a knife and a belt hanger of bronze rings.  Most spectacularly, 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.  Most remarkable was another large pendant worn lower down on the woman’s chest.  Made of gold, it has hundreds of tiny garnets inlaid into it in cloisonné patterns, including sinuous interlacing beasts and geometrical shapes.  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 Winfarthing burial assemblage was declared Treasure under the 1996 Treasure Act and has been valued by the government’s independent Treasure Valuation Committee at £145,050.  Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery now have three months to raise the money which will be split equally between the finder and the landowner.

Senior Curator of Archaeology, Dr Tim Pestell, said “This find is an exceptional example of the type of jewellery worn by women of high status in the seventh century.  Its owner was clearly aristocratic and raises all manner of interesting questions about the development of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of East Anglia and the cultural links they had with other English kingdoms and the Continent.

Councillor John Ward, Chairman of Norfolk’s Joint Museums Committee, said:  “This is a significant find.  We hope the public feel as strongly as we do that this treasure should remain in Norfolk and help by making a financial donation so that this can happen.  In time, it would be great that this jewellery would be displayed in the county so Norwich Castle visitors can enjoy seeing it and finding out more.”

The Winfarthing find has this week been highlighted by the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) as an example of best practice by amateur metal detectorists.  Former student Tom, who now works as an archaeologist, declared his find.  Under the 1996 Treasure Act, all finders of gold and silver objects in England have a legal obligation to report such items.

To donate to the fundraising appeal, visit www.friendsofthenorwichmuseums.co.uk or write to FNM Treasurer Janet Duncan, Shirehall, Market Avenue, Norwich, NR1 3JQ.

Press releases