A cafe owner in the United Kingdom made an extraordinary find while using his metal detector -- a 16th-century pendant linked to King Henry VIII that could be at least 500 years old.
Charlie Clarke, 34, of Birmingham, had only been a hobbyist in the metal detector field for six months in 2019 when he discovered the gold chain and pendant, whose initials are linked to the British monarch and his first wife, Katherine of Aragon, The New York Times reported.
Clarke was visiting a friend in the countryside. Feeling bad about the loss of his dog to cancer, he decided to take a stroll and brought his metal detector along, according to the newspaper.
His machine went off on his friend’s property in Warwickshire, and Clarke found a treasure that stunned researchers.
“I knew it was special,” Clarke told the Times on Friday.
Clarke was calm on Friday. He was much more animated when he found the rare pieces. He told The Guardian that after digging to his elbow to find the rare piece, he began to shriek “like a little schoolgirl, to be honest.”
“My voice went pretty high-pitched,” he told the newspaper.
The find was announced by the British Museum as part of the Treasure Annual Report for 2020 and the Portable Antiquities Scheme Annual Report for 2021, according to CNN. A total of 45,581 archaeological finds were recorded in that period, of which 1,085 are classed as treasure, The Guardian reported. Approximately 96% were found by people using metal detectors, according to the newspaper.
Rachel King, curator of Renaissance Europe at the British Museum, told The Guardian that nothing of this size and importance from the Renaissance period had been found in the United Kingdom for more than 25 years.
“We all thought: My goodness, is this for real? Could this possibly be?” King told the Times on Friday.
The heart-shaped pendant, attached to a chain of 75 links and made of 300 grams of 24-carat gold, is decorated with a bush bearing the Tudor rose and a pomegranate, Katherine’s symbol, according to The Guardian. The reverse contains the initials “H” and “K,” written in Lombardic script, the Times reported.
The rose was a symbol employed by the Tudor family beginning in 1486, according to the newspaper.
The ribbon motifs on the front of the pendant sport the “TOVS” and “IORS,” which King told The Guardian was “a beautiful early English Franglais pun” on the French word “toujours” and “all yours.”
Henry was married to Katherine from June 11, 1509, until their annulment on May 23, 1533. She died on Jan. 7, 1536.
King told the Times that most items referencing Katherine had been destroyed and that there was “very, very little that keeps her memory alive.”
Sometimes referred to as Catherine, Henry VIII’s first wife was the daughter of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain, according to History.com. While pregnant several times, the only child of Catherine to survive was Mary, who was born in February 1516.
The pendant has yet to be valued, but Clarke said he will split the proceeds with the landowner, The Guardian reported.
Clarke said that the money would go a long way toward making life easier for himself and his 4-year-old son.
“Birmingham’s a pretty rough place, right where I’m from,” Clarke told the Times. “If I could get him some good education out of this, that’s the benefit of it all.”
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