An archaeological find on Staffordshire farmland is believed to include the earliest examples of Iron Age gold ever discovered in Britain.
The collection, which has been named the Leekfrith Iron Age Torcs, was discovered by two metal detectorists just before Christmas.
Unveiling the torcs, experts said the unique find could date back as far as 400BC and was of huge international importance.
The four torcs, made up of three neck torcs and one bracelet, are thought to be from the continent, possibly Germany or France.
They were found by detectorists Mark Hambleton and Joe Kania in December and handed over to Portable Antiquities Scheme, part of Birmingham Museums, which manages the voluntary recording of finds.
Expert Dr Julia Farley, Curator of British & European Iron Age Collections for the British Museum has assessed the remarkable find, and said: “This unique find is of international importance. It dates to around 400–250 BC, and is probably the earliest Iron Age gold work ever discovered in Britain. 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.”
Archaeologists from Stoke-on-Trent City Council led the site investigations on the farmland in the Staffordshire Moorlands and say it is a “complete” find with no evidence of any other pieces on the land.
Stoke-on-Trent holds, cares for and displays the archaeological heritage from the whole county, a role it has held for nearly 40 years.
The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery in Stoke-on-Trent is an Accredited Museum and all of its collections are Designated (as being of regional, national and international significance). It has 750,000 items in its collections – 500,000 are archaeological and historical artefacts. The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery was one of the founding members of the Portable Antiquities Scheme 20 years ago, so has been closely involved with the development of the recording of people’s finds from the county, including Treasure (artefacts discovered in the ground which are over 300 years old of substantially gold or silver; plus prehistoric bronze groups),
The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery has been collecting Treasure for nearly 20
years – over 100 different items (or groups of items) to date – the most famous being the Staffordshire Hoard.
The Leekfrith Iron Age Torcs will be on show at The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery from March 1 to 22 (http://www.stokemuseums.org.uk/collections/local-history/leekfrith-iron-age-torcs/).