Devoting time to a hobby can often reap greater benefits than the time spent on them. For one man from Birmingham, England, who went for a stroll with his new metal detector, the benefits may be life-changing, according to the New York Times.
While on a walk on his friend’s property in Warwickshire, England, Charlie Clarke’s metal detector, which he had bought only six months prior, began to emit “unusually loud” bleeping. About one foot into the ground Clarke unearthed a treasure: a 500-year-old heart-shaped pendant decorated with symbols connected to Henry VIII and his first wife, Catherine of Aragon.
On one side, the pendant was decorated with Catherine of Aragon’s emblem, the pomegranate bush. Interlaced with the bush, there is a double-headed rose, a symbol used by the House of Tudor since the late 1400s. On the reverse, the letters H and K were written in ornate script and tied together by a ribbon.
Clarke thought for a moment that the pendant was a piece of costume jewelry, but its weight convinced him “it was special,” as he told the Times. He was right.
Specialists and researchers have been shocked by Clarke’s discovery. An expert in Birmingham to whom Clarke brought the pendant after finding it in 2019 was described as “shaking when she held it, her jaw was on the floor.” Rachel King, curator of Renaissance Europe for the British Museum, told the Times that researchers at the museum could hardly believe the pendant was real.
While the pendant has been authenticated, why it was made and how it wound up buried in a field in Warwickshire are not yet understood by experts. According to King, there are no portraits from the era of people wearing a similar pendant. She speculates that perhaps the pendant could have been the prize for a jousting tournament. She said it was “hastily crafted.”
This pendant is especially rare since, since not many items connected to Catherine of Aragon still exist.
When the pendant is eventually sold, its inevitably high sum will be split evenly between Clarke and his friend, on whose property it was found, according to British law. Clarke said the money could prove life-changing for him and his four-year-old son.
Metal detecting has become an increasingly popular hobby in the UK, according to the Guardian, and a success story like Clarke’s will surely attract more than a few new treasure hunters (or THs, as some enthusiasts call themselves). For those interested, Warwickshire might be a good place to start. The Guardian reports that there have been 9,499 finds in the county in the last 10 years, 156 of which were recorded as treasures.
“There is an increase in [membership] every time something comes on the TV or in the press,” Alan Tamblyn, of the National Council for Metal Detecting (NCMD), the organization that is formally recognized by the UK government and represents the hobby when it comes to legislation, told the Guardian.
However, it is important that treasure hunting hobbyists know the law, he added, reminding the public that they have to receive permission from the landowner before it can be searched.