Friday, 5 November 2021

That exciting feeling.

Long ago, before the farmer and I married in 1993,his father turned up a stone age axe head when ploughing up a field which had been grass.   He just happened to see it because the stone was green and unlike any stone around here.   York Museum identified it and said the stone  axe head came from the Langdale Pikes in the Lake District - the other side of the country.   We marvelled at how far a man would travel in those days.

And we talked about what history is probably buried under our feet.     And then the Middleham Jewel was found -  a gold pendant probably from around the 15th century.   Middleham is the next village from where I live - two miles away at the most.    And we marvel to think that Middleham (Middleham Castle was the childhood home of Richard III) must have held such treasure all those years ago (and is now just a village with a lot of racing stables, a lot of race horses being trained and a ruined castle).

Now near Sheriff Hutton Castle  - forty miles away -and also a home of Richard III- another treasure has been uncovered by metal detector.   It is a tiny bible 1.5cm long, weighing 5g and made of 24ct gold and beautifully engraved.   Experts think it possible that both the jewel and the bible were gifts to the same person, maybe one of Richard's relatives who was about to give birth because one of the engravings is of Margaret of Antioch a patron saint of childbirth.

That such fascinating treasures should lie beneath our feet and that such riches should have been so near and where most of the population around them would have been so poor and relying on farming for survival - it makes one wonder what else there is lying there waiting to be found,   Did the owner of such treasures consider them to be treasure, did she lose them, did she search in vain for them, did she mourn their loss, did she live or die in childbirth (plenty died in those far off days).   The find raises so many questions and we shall never know the answers.

When the Middleham jewel was sold in 1992 it went for £2.5million.   How much will the little book go for when it is sold?   And how people in Richard's time would marvel at those sums of money.

27 comments:

Bovey Belle said...

The British countryside is absolutely strewn with "treasure" - some of it the humble working tools of the Mesolithic and Neolithic, the flints they are made from often traded along extended trade routes - even from Europe. The earliest hints of metalworking, little gold foil hair embellishments, bronze torcs, gleaming gold breastplates like the one from Mold, now in Wrexham Museum, burials and grave goods, which can both tell us so much about the person in life, strontium analysis revealing what they ate and where they hailed from. Not to mention the Hoards which occasionally turn up and if they are reported properly, can shed light on that unwritten past of ours.

That axe that your good man's father once found was made in what we knew in Archaeology as the Langdale Axe Factory - stand at Castlerigg Stone Circle and you can just see where the axe blanks were mined and worked.

That tiny bible and the gold pendant must have been much-missed when they were lost, but I hope they served their purpose and there was a successful birth. Meanwhile, I love to read about the latest finds and go back in time in my head.

Derek Faulkner said...

An interesting and enjoyable post Pat, made a nice change.

Ellen D. said...

How exciting to make such a find! Like winning the lottery!

JayCee said...

That is fascinating. All that potential treasure hidden beneath our feet everywhere.
It has reminded me of the TV series The Detectorists, which I quite enjoyed.
I expect the most I would find would be a Blue Peter badge. Not enough to boost my retirement fund!

Kathy said...

Always enjoy your posts, this one even more so, so interesting. Hope your not feeling so tired today. Take care and wrap up warm when you go out walking with Priscilla.

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

The Langdale axes are found all over the country, with many of them having turned up in your old home county, Lincolnshire. I remember reading (in one of Francis Pryor's books I think) that one particularly beautiful example had wonderful patterns in the rock which had been brought out by the polishing. The axe had never been used, and if it had been used would have not lasted long for the patterns were actually faults in the stone. It's thought that it was of some kind of religious significance rather than ever intended as a practical tool.

Anonymous said...

Some years ago I lost an earing whilst walking next to Middleham Castle. I think I knocked it off my ear (pierced ears) pushing the hood of my coat off my head when the rain ceased. I wonder if it will be found many years from now and people will where it came from. Although it was made of gold it was of no great value and had no comparison to the Middleham Jewels. Gilly.

Rachel Phillips said...

The largest Anglo Saxon haul of gold coins ever found has just been before the Coroner for judgement. The 131 gold coins were found in Norfolk. The exact location is a secret.

Bonnie said...

I recommend the film "The Dig" which I enjoyed this past year. The story of very ordinary people discovering the Sutton Hoo ship and armor, etc. It was something I had never heard of before and it piqued my interest! Would like to take a class and tour this area--now on my bucket list.
Bonnie in Minneapolis

Bonnie said...

The history of your beautiful country has always been fascinating to me!
I love the thought of finding items that were here so many lifetimes ago. It makes me wonder about the people that lived then, what they felt and what they thought.

Heather said...

It must be thrilling to find such treasures on one's land. The most exciting things I found in our garden were bits of churchwarden's pipes and a plain silver salt spoon. Not of any value but still interesting.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Such interesting and informative comments here - thank you for them all.

sparklingmerlot said...

My grandfather found a roman oil lamp many, many years ago. Now I live in Australia I have been fortunate to be way out in the bush and come across aboriginal artifacts. One leaves them in situ as they hold special significance.

Susan said...

There are hidden treasures in the earth and the sea. My husband's grandmother, Leila, found a very old gold and ruby ring on the rocky coast of Scotland and she gifted it to her grandson. Today, my son wears the ring.

Cro Magnon said...

At our home in France I found plenty of Stone Age tools, but I'm still waiting to find gold. Maybe I need a metal detector.

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Hilde said...

I live near the Roman Limes (I think in GB it is called Hadrian´s Wall) and there are lots of finds from the Roman occupation
and before. A friend of mine, who had a civil engineering company, told me once that they were always afraid of finding some ancient ruins when digging, because this would have stopped all the construction work for a long time.
Hilde in Germany

Rachel Phillips said...

Hadrians Wall is a specific Roman frontier, not a general term for such frontiers.

Tom Stephenson said...

The ancients travelled huge distances. Minoan pottery has been found in the Shetland Isles. When you think of it, even our recent ancestors of the 19th century would think nothing of making a 40 mile journey on horseback to visit the supermarket. I know from experience that you have to be fit to ride a horse.

Debby said...

I second Bonnie's comment on 'The Dig'. If you haven't seen it, I know that you will love it. The treasures just waiting to be discovered always send my imagination off into high gear. Your country is (comparatively) so much older than my own. Our history is just as long, I suppose, but not recorded as yours is.

Debby said...

PS I spent hours happily reading up on Sutton Hoo. While the movie is riddled with historical inaccuracies, it really is beautifully done.

Rachel Phillips said...

I think with all due respect that Debby's description of The Dig as "riddled with inaccuracies" is a trifle harsh. It is a film, drama and as such has some permission for poetic license but on balance locally it is judged as passing muster.

Emmbee said...

I enjoy watching Time Team and learning more about the history of the UK.
So many different eras are uncovered. I think I’d like to spend a year or two in the UK. 🇦🇺

hart said...

I often wonder about the original owners of these treasures we dig up. How did they bear the loss of such an item, or for that matter the peasants who lost a button. (The Detectorists almost made me want a metal detector.)

Tara said...

Amazing finds beneath your feet! How long they have survived. I wonder if someday, far in the future, someone will find my hair dryer buried in their yard and wonder all those things we wonder.

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