Wednesday, 17 August 2022

Buried treasure in South Oxfordshire fields

MEDIEVAL treasure has been discovered in a farmer’s field in Nuffield.

MEDIEVAL treasure has been discovered in a farmer’s field in Nuffield.

A silver gilt strap end from the 10th or 11th century was found on land owned by Gwyn Cummins, who runs Warren Hill Farm in Nuffield Lane.

Strap ends were used to prevent straps on clothing from curling or fraying and also added decoration.

The discovery was made by Michael Washington, from Camberley, Surrey, who is part of a metal detecting club.

Mr Cummins said: “It was found on my land but I didn’t know anything about it to begin with. I take the view that people with metal detectors can use my land but I’ve only got 40 acres.

“Things do come to the top when you’re ploughing, then once you’ve ploughed again they get buried. If people can find anything, it’s interesting for them.” Mr Cummins says people come to the farm once the crops have been harvested around September time.

He said: “Clubs book with me to come to the farm. People have never found anything interesting before, one or two coins and a horseshoe but nothing quite like this.”

The strap end, which measures 1.9cm by 1.65cm by 0.27cm was deemed to be “treasure” at an inquest held at County Hall in Oxford.

Coroner Darren Salter said the item fitted the criteria of being 300 years old and containing at least 10 per cent precious metals.

It will be sold to a museum once its value is determined by the Government’s treasure valuation committee. A similar item found in Offley, Hertfordshire, was valued at £15.

In a report about the find, Dr Sue Brunning, a medieval specialist from the British Museum, said: “This is an incomplete early medieval silver gilt.

“Found in the ground in the parish of Nuffield, it is one third to one half of the original.

“It dates from Anglo-Saxon period and is engraved with letters D, M, E, C, A, H.”

“MEC” is the old English term for “me” while the A and H probably denote the owner.

The report said this type of inscription was not uncommon on items from that period.

The gilt also a shows a motif, which is unclear, with its foot on a book, which was also a common symbol in Anglo-Saxon art.

Dr Brunning said a similar gilt had been found in Somerset where the inscription could be translated to “Wolfson owns me”.

The foot on a book image had been seen on a ring, a set of pennies and a broach from the same period.

Announcing his verdict, Mr Salter said: “This is an item from the 10th or 11th century and, based on the information given, this is within the requirement of 10 per cent precious metals and is more than 300 years old. It is treasure.”

Mr Washington said: “When we find things I think it is a very private matter.

“What we do is a bit of a secret and we like to keep it to ourselves.

“It involves a lot of private permissions from landowners who have to be aware of what we are doing.”

Mr Washington said he was not aware of the procedures that came with finding treasure.

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