A young treasure hunter from Billericay, Britain found something unusual and valuable when trying his metal detector for the first time.
While he was out with his father Jason in Hockley, Essex, three-year-old James Hyatt was allowed his first go with his grandad’s metal detector when, as he put it, “It went beep beep beep.”
Hyatt and his father started digging and immediately unearthed a 500-year-old gold religious locket, called a reliquary, possibly worth about $4 million dollars. James was fortunately probably too young to understand the excited speculation at the time about his discovery.
His dad Jason, 34, said: “James got a buzz after just five minutes. We saw a glint eight inches down and gently pulled the object out. Dad was blown away. He’d never found anything like it in 15 years doing his hobby. James was so excited to find treasure, though he’s too young to realize its significance.”
The British Museum says the pendant weighs a third of an ounce and has a gold content of about 73 percent. It is engraved with Christ’s mother Mary on the front and his bleeding wounds and heart on the back and would have been used to hold alleged bits of his crown of thorns or a splinter from his cross. A letter from the British Museum says:
“Devotion to the blood and wounds of Christ was one of the hallmarks of late medieval piety.”
Its material, possibly wood, was found in the reliquary, which is from the early 1500s. It once has been brilliantly coloured, with enamel work filling in the letters and decoration. It probably dropped from the neck of some wealthy and pious person and lay undiscovered in the field for half a millennium. Experts believe it is one of only four of its kind in Britain and could have belonged to royalty.
James’s find was a genuine buried treasure. It was officially declared treasure by a coroner’s inquest and has now become one of the permanent treasures of the British Museum’s medieval gallery.