Boys strike gold with ornament dig

Undated handout photo issued by North Pennines AONB Partnership of four schoolboys (from left) Aidan Bell, ten, Luca Alderson, eight, Joseph Bell, seven and Sebastian Alderson, ten who found a 4,000-year-old intricately decorated golden hair tress that da

A 4,000-year-old intricately decorated golden hair tress that dates back to around 2,300 BC that was discovered by four boys in Northumberland (North Pennines AONB Partnership/PA)

First published in Sport © by

A group of schoolboys struck gold when they dug up a 4,000-year-old ornament.

The group of children were taking part in a dig at Kirkhaugh, Northumberland, when they caught a glimpse of something shiny.

It turned out to be an intricately decorated golden hair tress that dates back to around 2,300 BC.

Joseph Bell, seven, one of the four boys to make the discovery, said: "We were digging carefully in the ground and I saw something shiny, it was gold. Me and Luca started dancing with joy. It was very exciting."

Luca Alderson, eight, said: "When I first saw it I felt happy but I thought it was plastic. When I found out it was gold, I was very happy."

The 4,300-year-old ornament is said to be one of the earliest metal objects to be found in the UK and may have been worn by a metal worker who travelled here in search of gold and copper.

Only ten finds like this have ever been made and this one is the partner of a matching one discovered at Kirkhaugh during an excavation in 1935.

Found in the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), it dates back to the Copper Age and was found alongside three flint arrowheads and a jet button.

Paul Frodsham, who leads Altogether Archaeology project for the AONB Partnership, said: "All archaeological sites are important in their own way, but this is exceptional.

"It can be regarded as marking the very start of mineral exploitation in the North Pennines, leading in due course to Roman exploitation of lead and silver, and eventually to the vast post-medieval lead industry for which the region is internationally famous."

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