Iron Age gold

Two friends have unearthed a hoard jewellery which could be the oldest Iron Age gold ever discovered in Britain.

Lifelong pals Mark Hambleton and Joe Kania made the exciting discovery on farmland within the parish of Leekfrith, in the Staffordshire Moorlands.

Luckily the duo, who had given up treasure hunting in favour of fishing, recently decided to resume their metal detecting hobby after being urged by Mark’s late father, Roy.

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The collection, called the Leekfrith Iron Age Torcs, was unearthed just before Christmas and could date back as far as 400BC.

The four torcs – three necklaces and one bracelet – were found separately about one metre apart and were buried just beneath the surface.

The hoard is thought to be from Germany or France and was handed over Portable Antiquities Scheme, part of Birmingham Museums, which manages the voluntary recording of finds.

Staffordshire County Council Leader, Philip Atkins, said: “As a county and as a council we are both proud and unbelievably lucky to be home to some truly exceptional finds, including of course the Staffordshire Hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold.

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“This amazing find of Iron Age gold torcs in the North of the county is quite simply magical and we look forward to sharing the secrets and story they hold in the years to come.”

Dr Julia Farley, Curator of British & European Iron Age Collections for the British Museum, said: “This unique find is of international importance.

“It dates to around 400–250 BC, and is probably the earliest Iron Age gold work ever discovered in Britain.

“The torcs were probably worn by wealthy and powerful women, perhaps people from the continent who had married into the local community.

“Piecing together how these objects came to be carefully buried in a Staffordshire field will give us an invaluable insight into life in Iron Age Britain.”

An inquest is being held in North Staffordshire at 11am today and Coroner Ian Smith will rule if the pieces are treasure.