Majors

Archaeologists Uncover 1,300-Year-Old Necklace at Medieval Burial Site

MajorsDec 12, 2022

Archaeologists Uncover 1,300-Year-Old Necklace at Medieval Burial Site

The Museum of London Archaeology called it “one of the most spectacular female Early Medieval burials ever discovered in the U.K.”

20221212_Medieval necklace header.jpg
Archaeologists discovered this ornate gold necklace believed to be more than 1,300 years old at a burial site in Northamptonshire, England. (Image courtesy of The Museum of London Archaeology)
London—Archaeologists have discovered an ornate gold necklace believed to be more than 1,300 years old at a burial site in the U.K.

The Museum of London Archaeology announced the findings in a press release last week, naming the hoard the necklace is a part of the “Harpole Treasure.”

The Vistry Group, a U.K.-based house building company, had commissioned a search of an area in Northamptonshire before beginning construction.

The dig had been “pretty unremarkable” until the team spotted a glimmer of gold.

“When the first glints of gold started to emerge from the soil, we knew this was something significant. However, we didn’t quite realize how special this was going to be,” said MOLA Site Supervisor Levente-Bence Balázs.

In April, the team uncovered a necklace dating back to 630-670 AD. It has several pendants, including gold Roman coins, gemstones set in gold, and decorated glass pendants set in gold.

The pendants are spaced out by gold beads.

At the center of the necklace is a large rectangular pendant made of red garnets and gold with a cross motif.

“We think that it was originally half of a hinge clasp before it was reused in this necklace,” said the museum.

20221212_1-Medieval beads.jpg
A closer look at the beads and pendants on the necklace (Image courtesy of The Museum of London Archaeology)

For jewelry historian and antiques expert Tanzy Ward of Zanathia Jewelry, the necklace is both a treasure and a helpful research tool.

“The intricate details on the pendants gives us more insight on the traditional designs and artistic craftsmanship that was superior in early Medieval times,” said Ward.

“Additionally, the jewelry of this era was one of the major influences in early Victorian Era styles as well.  Finding a remarkable piece of this caliber is amazing to study and compare with later jewelry designs that tried to reproduce the aesthetic of the Medieval Era.”

A similar necklace, called the “Desborough necklace,” was discovered in the same area in 1876. It is considered to be the finest of its kind and is currently stored in the British Museum.

While similar necklaces have been found, this necklace is notable for its variety of pendants and that it’s believed to be intact.

 Related stories will be right here … 

“It isn’t clear if [the Desborough necklace] is complete, because the workmen had portioned the pendants and beads amongst themselves before being persuaded to hand them over for a small reward. We know that the Harpole Treasure necklace is complete.”

The museum believes the site is that of a female burial. While no significant human remains were found, similar necklaces have been discovered at female burial sites from this period and “extravagant burials” are nearly exclusive to women during this period.

Aside from the necklace, the team also found other treasures that gave them insight into who this woman might have been.

When they x-rayed soil blocks from the site, they found a large ornate cross set with garnets and smaller crosses at the end of each arm.

The piece is being micro-excavated, but an x-ray shows an incredible level of detail.

20221212_2-Medieval xray.jpg
An x-ray of the area shows a large ornate cross, leading the team to believe the woman buried at the site may have been an early Christian leader. (Image courtesy of The Museum of London Archaeology)

At the end of the two arms of the cross, there are human faces cast in silver.

“The sheer size of the cross suggests the woman buried here may have been an early Christian leader,” said the museum, calling it “one of the most spectacular female Early Medieval burials ever discovered in the U.K.”

As for what’s next, the team said it is in the early stages of conservation and analysis and hopes to learn more about the cross and necklace.

As per the country’s Treasure Act, the findings were reported to the coroner and have to go through a legal process.

If declared to be a “treasure,” the goods will then be valued by the Treasure Valuation Committee.

The Vistry Group has waived its right to a portion of the reward, so the valuation process may be skipped.

For comparison, though, a contemporary gold and garnet pendant, known as the “Winfarthing pendant,” was discovered in Norfolk in 2014 and was valued at £145,000 ($178,000).

Lenore Fedowis the associate editor, news at National Jeweler, covering the retail beat and the business side of jewelry.

The Latest

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration hurricane satellite image
Policies & IssuesJun 20, 2024
5 Safety and Preparedness Tips for Jewelers This Hurricane Season

Jewelers Mutual is advising jewelers along the coast to prepare for above-normal hurricane activity this year.

Precious: The History and Mystery of Gems Across Time
SourcingJun 20, 2024
Jewelry Expert Helen Molesworth to Release First Book

“Precious: The History and Mystery of Gems Across Time” will be available on Sept. 17.

Jewelers of America advocacy trip DC 2024
Policies & IssuesJun 18, 2024
JA, Industry Leaders Take Russian Diamond Import Concerns to D.C.

The group met with lawmakers to raise awareness about the financial, operational, and supply chain harms posed by an EU proposal.

Untitled design.jpg
Brought to you by
The End of an Era? Lab-Grown Diamonds' Journey Towards Price Stability

As the demand for lab-grown diamond jewelry may still be increasing, the most notable change we are likely to see is price stabilization.

Louis Comfort Tiffany 1900 gold and opal necklace
Events & AwardsJun 18, 2024
Driehaus Museum Displaying Rare Jewels From Chicago Collections

The museum also will host jewelry heist-themed movie nights throughout the run of “Chicago Collects: Jewelry in Perspective.”

Weekly QuizJun 20, 2024
This Week’s Quiz
Test your jewelry news knowledge by answering these questions.
Take the Quiz
Models wearing Pomellato’s “The Dualism of Milan” collection
CollectionsJun 18, 2024
Pomellato’s New High Jewelry Collection Celebrates Milan

“The Dualism of Milan” collection features two chapters representing the monochromatic and colorful spirit of the city.

Dorian Webb, Kealeboga and Ursula Pule
CollectionsJun 18, 2024
Zales Adds Dorian Webb, Nungu Diamonds to Designer Edit

The Designer Edit, launched earlier this year, highlights up-and-coming jewelry designers.

1872 x 1052 Gemolite.jpg
Brought to you by
Meet Gemology’s Next Generation Microscope: GIA® Gemolite® NXT Professional Edition

GIA®’s most advanced microscope has new features to optimize greater precision and comfort.

National Association of Jewelry Appraisers Logo
Events & AwardsJun 18, 2024
NAJA Announces Its Mid-Year ‘Ace It’ Conference

The conference will focus on the “practical ‘how to’ of appraising gems and jewelry,” said NAJA Executive Director Gail Brett Levine.

De Beers CEO Al Cook
EditorsJun 17, 2024
Q&A: Al Cook on the Future of De Beers

The De Beers CEO discussed the Anglo American situation, natural diamond marketing, and why the future of lab-grown diamonds is technology.

Bernd Munsteiner
SourcingJun 17, 2024
Fantasy Cut Inventor Bernd Munsteiner Dies at 81

Known to many as the “Picasso of gems" who modernized the gem cutting field, he is remembered by his family as going through life with open eyes.

Thomas Markle Jewelers interior
IndependentsJun 17, 2024
Thomas Markle Jewelers to Relocate

The Houston-based family jeweler is relocating its flagship just across the street.

Instore and Chicago Responsible Jewelry Conference Logos
Events & AwardsJun 17, 2024
Instore Show, Chicago Responsible Jewelry Conference to Co-Locate

The partnership, now in its second year, allows CRJC attendees to register for a free Instore show badge.

Stock image of a gavel
CrimeJun 14, 2024
2 Men Sentenced to Life in 2022 Murder of Detroit-Area Jeweler

In court, Daniel Hutchinson’s loved ones remembered the jeweler as a giver, a role model, and a leader.

Billie Bangle
CollectionsJun 14, 2024
Piece of the Week: Jade Trau’s ‘Billie’ Bangle

Take a walk along this bangle’s diamond “cobblestone” made from round-, pear-, and marquise-cut diamonds.

Graphic with headshots for My Next Question 2024 Las Vegas webinar
Recorded WebinarsJun 14, 2024
Watch: What Happened in Vegas in 2024

The National Jeweler editors discuss the hot topics, best jewels, and current trends that stood out during Jewelry Market Week.

NJSB1.JPG
Supplier BulletinJun 13, 2024
Leading with Innovation: Core Scientific’s Advanced Refining Solutions

Sponsored by Core Scientific

Vera Wang Love True lab-grown diamond engagement ring
FinancialsJun 13, 2024
Signet Awaits Engagement Recovery as Q1 Sales Sink 9%

The company is expecting to see a 5 to 10 percent increase in engagements this year.

QVC HSN logo
MajorsJun 13, 2024
HSN, QVC Parent Company Faces Delisting

Qurate Retail is in the middle of a turnaround plan as it battles declining sales.

45.07-carat step cut fancy vivid yellow diamond
AuctionsJun 13, 2024
45-Carat Yellow Diamond Withdrawn from Phillips Auction

Signed jewels and period pieces stood out at the sale.

Marie Lichtenberg Scapular necklace
TrendsJun 13, 2024
Amanda’s Style File: For the Fathers

Showcase your dad’s personal style with a piece of fine jewelry for Father’s Day.

The Eden Rose Diamond
AuctionsJun 12, 2024
10-Carat Pink Diamond Sells for $13M at Christie’s

“The Eden Rose” is a fancy intense pink diamond that was appearing at auction for the first time.

Charles & Colvard moissanite ring
GradingJun 12, 2024
IGI to Grade Charles & Colvard Moissanite

The partnership follows the launch of the jewelry company’s B2B moissanite platform.

Bruce Cleaver
SourcingJun 12, 2024
Bruce Cleaver Is Gemfields’ New Chair

The former De Beers CEO will step into the role next month.

Rose cut arch cabochons Columbia Gem House
SourcingJun 12, 2024
State of Colored Stones: Why the Market Is More Colorful Than Ever

As prices of “The Big Three” skyrocket, supply dwindles, and focus on sustainability grows, an age of open-mindedness is dawning.

Edward Arthur Jewelers logo
IndependentsJun 11, 2024
Edward Arthur Jewelers to Close After 53 Years

Owner Randy Brooks, whose brother opened the Maryland jewelry store in 1971, is retiring.

Greenwich St jewelers pride raffle
IndependentsJun 11, 2024
Greenwich St. Jewelers Is Hosting a Pride Month Raffle

Tickets to win a ring are for sale until June 13, with proceeds going to a trans care nonprofit.

×

This site uses cookies to give you the best online experience. By continuing to use & browse this site, we assume you agree to our Privacy Policy