Treasure seekers dig up jewels on farmland

Treasure seekers dig up jewels on farmland

The silver-gilt pilgrim badge

The post-medieval gold signet ring

First published in News York Press: Photograph of the Author by

TWO men using metal detectors have uncovered valuable items of treasure buried at a York farm.

Part of a silver medieval pilgrim badge and a heavy gold signet ring showing a coat of arms from the 1500s or 1600s were uncovered on separate days at Church Farm at Overton last October.

The badge and the ring, discovered by Craig Best and Derek Greenwell respectively, were yesterday declared to be treasure by North Yorkshire coroner Michael Oakley.

The items were uncovered after the owner of the land gave the men permission to search the area with metal detectors.

Experts at the British Museum said the badge would have represented St George in combat with a dragon and have managed to identify the coat of arms on the ring as the one used by the Prestwich family of Hulme in Manchester.

Caroline Barton, assistant treasure registrar at the British Museum, said: “It’s a privilege but quite rare to be able to identify the ring’s original owners.

“It evokes the imagination of how the ring was lost.

“For people who look for treasure, the excitement is the thrill of the find but people who are metal detectors have such an interest in history.

“It’s a connection to your local history – to be able to go into your back garden, as it were, and find out what was happening in your own environment.”

The treasure is now the property of the Crown and will be valued by experts before being exhibited in museums.

The British Museum said Manchester Museum had expressed an interest in the ring and the York Museums Trust had registered interest in the badge.

The Coroner’s Court in Northallerton heard that upper part of the figure of St George is missing from the badge, which also depicts horse trampling the dragon underfoot.

The remains of a stitching loop on the back indicate that it may have been attached to a hat.

Such badges were especially popular from the 15th century, and reflect a pilgrimage to St George’s Chapel in Windsor.

Dr Clive Cheesman, of the British Museum, said Thomas Prestwich, the head of the family was made a baronet in 1644, but the ring was likely to have been made before that date either for him, his father Edmund Prestwich of Hulme or an earlier generation.

Mr Oakley said as the items were deemed to have a minimum of ten per cent precious metal they were qualified as treasure under the stipulations of the Treasure Act 1996.

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