While metal detecting a farm field in the United Kingdom, a woman found a small gold Bible which historians believe may have been worn by early English royalty.
The Daily Mail reports Buffy Bailey, an NHS nurse from Lancaster, was swinging her detector near Sheriff Hutton Castle in North Yorkshire with her husband Ian when her machine picked up a strong signal close to a footpath.
Northern Yorkshire is located about 208 miles north of London and about 60 miles northeast of Manchester.
Expecting to find an old pull tab off of a soda can or an animal tag, she dug down a few inches and unearthed a small, substantial gold Bible, which she first thought was an old charm from a bracelet. But after she took a photo of the artifact with her phone, she realized it was substantial gold.
The small object is just a simply half an inch long, weighs around 5 grams or .18 of an ounce, and is either 22-carat or 24-carat gold. It dates back to the 15th century and is believed to have belonged to a relative of King Richard III, the Mail reported.
Metal detectorist finds tiny gold Bible believed to have belonged to relative of Richard III https://t.co/9jYuRwWU2F
— Daily Mail Online (@MailOnline) November 7, 2021
The small golden Bible is currently being studied by the Yorkshire Museum which has described the find as “internationally important,” according to the newspaper.
“They told us the engravings were definitely St. Leonard and St. Margaret – who were both patron saints of childbirth,” Bailey told the Mail. “In the 1400s around 40 to 60 percent of women died in childbirth, so the owner may have prayed with this object as a kind of protection – it may have been part of a birthing girdle or a bookmark for the Bible.”
“Whoever had it commissioned must have been incredibly wealthy – there’s nothing else like it in the world. It could be worth £100,000 ($134,935) or more,” she said.
According to the Mail, experts have likened and connected it to the ‘Middleham Jewel,’ a gold pendant that was discovered by a metal detectorist 40 miles away near Middleham Castle, the childhood home of Richard III.
The pendant sold at auction for more than $3.3 million in 1992.
Julian Evan-Hart, an expert in scarce treasure and the editor of Treasure Hunting magazine, described the small gold Bible as an ‘exceptionally rare’ historical artifact.
“The book is dated between 1280 and 1410 when sumptuary law made it illegal for anyone other than the nobility to carry gold,” he told the Mail. “Automatically, then, it would have been the possession of someone highly notable such as a member of royalty.”
“The artwork is clearly iconographic and produces a close resemblance to the Middleham Jewel – there is every possibility that it was made by the same artist,” Evan-Hart noted.
Matt Lewis, a specialist at the Richard III Society has examined the Bible. He told the Mail the artifact is very similar to the Middleham Jewel and already the engravings look alike.
The newspaper reported the museum will finish its examination of the gold Bible and then decide whether to buy it based on an auctioneer’s calculate.
According to the U.K. treasure laws, the money will then be divided between Bailey and the landowner.
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