An ornate gold pendant and chain uncovered by metal detectorists in Warwickshire, UK, in 2019 has now been unveiled by the British Museum. The heart-shaped piece is embellished with red and white floral designs appearing to depict the union between King Henry VIII and his first wife Katherine of Aragon.
Measuring roughly 5 centimeters (2 inches) across, the pendant is decorated with a Tudor rose motif and pomegranate bush, as well as the inscription “TOVS IORS” – a pun on the French for “always”. The reverse shows large letters H and K, believed to be referring to the royal couple.
Dating back to between 1509 and 1533 CE, the elaborately designed necklace is actually thought to have been made rapidly, potentially worn by participants of an event or given as a prize.
Discovery of the piece was reported to the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS), a British Museum managed organization that deals with public found archaeological discoveries. In turn, Historic England were contacted to carry out an archaeological excavation of the site.
“This beautiful pendant is a thrilling discovery giving us a tangible connection to Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon and enriches our understanding of the Royal Court at the time,” Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive Historic England, said of the find in a statement. But despite best efforts, the excavation failed to turn up any additional discoveries.
The piece is now being showcased by the British Museum after the release of the PAS Annual Report for 2021. Of 45,581 recorded finds featured in the report, 1,085 are classified as Treasures.
To be considered a “treasure” under the Treasure Act 1996, an item must be a metallic object which has more than 10 percent of its weight made up of precious metal. The finding must also be at least 300 years old at the date of discovery.
“It is wonderful to see archaeology and metal-detecting across the country thriving – helping to uncover treasures which deepen our understanding of our shared national history,” Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay, the Arts and Heritage Minister, said of the Treasure Act.
As many as 96 percent of the finds in the PAS 2021 report were found by civilians and their metal detectors, as opposed to archaeologists. The most items were found in Gloucestershire, Suffolk, and Lincolnshire.