There you are, walking around in the mud, ready to pack it in. You two intended to go fishing. Instead, you opted to have another swipe. The owner of the land gave you permission years ago, but so far, you’ve only found rubbish. Then suddenly ….
Well, then suddenly the two friends struck gold. It sounds too good to be true, but it really happened.
Mark Hambleton and Joe Kania did not just find any gold, but the oldest Iron Age gold treasure discovered in the UK so far. The Leekfrith treasure consists of four torcs. The name Leekfrith is Old English and refers to the parish.
Experts think the treasure was hidden over 2,500 years ago. The finds may actually have been made on the continent and brought to Britain by wealthy European women.
The pieces were probably buried for safety reasons. This area, in what is now Staffordshire, must have seen some action.
It is interesting that one of the two Old English words which make up Leekfrith, Frith, refers to peace. Did people make peace nearby, after the treasures were buried and some battle won or lost? Who knows.
What is known is, that the Leekfrith treasure was not the only hidden hoard. Less than a decade ago, another treasure was discovered nearby. The 2009 treasure is now known as the Anglo-Saxon Staffordshire Hoard.
The latest discovery is on display in the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, in Stoke, till the 22nd of March 2017.
As for torcs, these are round pieces of jewelry with an opening and made of precious metal. They were once common throughout Europe during the Iron Age. A torc was probably a sign the owner belonged to the elite within llyrian, Thracian and Celtic cultures.
How were torcs worn? Opinions differ. Some think these pieces were used more or less like our wallets. Need to pay something, then cut a piece off. Other experts think this kind of neck-jewelry was never removed once in place.
However, there are torcs which show handling. The opening may have been bent open and close. For more on torcs, visit the British Museum’s blog post on how to put on a torc.