On July 31, 2022, the English Lionesses made history and were crowned the Euro 2022 champions. Emotions were high and hearts rejoiced, as it was England’s first major football trophy win since 1966. Wembley Stadium screamed the lyrics of Three Lions – referencing the three lions on the England Team crest. However, this crest is not just used by sports teams, having been revered and cherished for many centuries. This is highlighted by an archaeological find of a 12th-century golden lions pendant by HS2 ahead of the historic final.
HS2 is a high-speed rail link project aiming to link London to the North-West by high-speed rail lines. Over 1,000 archeologists have worked on over 60 sites, and this is not the first discovery resulting from the project. In June 2022, over 141 Anglo-Saxon Burials were revealed with fantastic finds such as jewelry and personal hygiene kits.
This current reveal may be a lot smaller, but as the nation’s pride is high, may resonate with a lot more people.
The 800-year-old three lions pendant was discovered in Wormleighton in Warwickshire. This site was previously an Iron Age or Romano British Settlement.
"HS2's archaeology programme has given us an unprecedented opportunity to discover, excavate and study British history. The whole country has got behind the England Women's team and we hope this great find will inspire the Lionesses to create their own piece of history on Sunday!" A spokeswoman for HS2 Ltd said in a statement.
The pendant itself is made of a copper alloy and is thought to be a decoration for a horse harness. The pendant may have been quite new before it was lost, as although a horse pendant is not rare and often turn up, they tend to be very worn. However, this small object has most of the red enamel and gilding still present.
Emblems with lions on a red background date back nearly 1,000 years, originally brought to the English throne by William the Conqueror. However, the addition of the third lion was brought in by Henry II when he married Eleanor of Aquitaine and is thought to represent the marriage in that family.
The three lions have been worn by England footballers since 1872, during the first international football fixture against Scotland. They wore this crest as this is a representation of the Football Association who have now taken the three-lion crest as their logo – and a logo that was worn with pride at the game.