Iron Age gold neckband discovered byman with metal detector goes on display at British Museum

November 20, 2008

England (ChattahBox) — Metal detector enthusiast Maurice Richardson’s 40 years of persistance, braving all weathers to scour the countryside dreaming of buried treasure, finally paid off (big time).

But when the big moment came the 59-year-old almost ignored an unpromising-sounding beep as he searched for debris from a wartime air crash while being pelted with rain.

‘I got the signal, but it was raining quite hard and I thought it was not going to be worth it,” he said yesterday. ‘However, it played on my mind, so I started to dig.

‘It was about two foot four inches down and when I got within four inches I decided to use my hand. I got down on my stomach and started scraping the soil away and it was then I saw what it was.

‘You look and look for things like this and you read about other people finding them, but it never happens to you.

‘It’s a wonderful feeling and just shows that anyone can do it. It’s not about the money, but the fact that it has been saved for the nation.

‘It’s 2,000 years in the ground and it is unique. What are the chances of walking acres of field and passing over it? The odds are astronomical.’

However he is glad his curiosity got the better of him after his persistence in digging through more than two feet of Nottinghamshire mud yielded a stunning 2,000-year-old gold treasure. The collar found by Mr Richardson in a secret location near Newark in February 2005 was probably buried as an offering in about 75BC, more than a century before the Roman conquest.

Now the artifact, an Iron Age torc, has been sold for a mammoth $525,000, and yesterday it was unveiled at the British Museum as the most valuable discovery in recent times.

The intricately decorated collar was so perfect that Mr Richardson, a tree surgeon in his day job, initially struggled to convince experts it wasn’t a forgery. It was painstakingly crafted using around 50m of hand-rolled dark gold alloy wires which were in turn plaited into eight thin ropes and then twisted together – the word torc comes from the Latin for ‘twist’. Finally, hollow rings were attached to either end, carved with spiral patterns as well as animal and plant forms.

The collar is similar to others found across Iron Age Europe and closely resembles the Great Torc, found at Snettisham in Norfolk in 1950 and now one of the British Museum’s most-loved treasures. Such jewelery would have been worn by the most powerful men and women in Celtic Britain or placed on statues of gods.
The proceeds were split between Mr Richardson – who put his share towards a new car and kitchen – and Trinity College, Cambridge, which owns the land.


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