A student has unearthed an “outstanding” Anglo-Saxon pendant that could be worth £50,000 – in his first year of an archaeology degree.
Tom Lucking, 23, has been metal detecting since he was just 11-years-old but had only ever found common medieval buckles and coins.
He always loved unearthing hidden gems and so decided to enroll on a landscape history course at the University of East Anglia in September.
But even he was stunned when he was out on farmland near Diss, Norfolk, just before Christmas and stumbled upon an Anglo-Saxon grave.
The student has also found a number of coins and jewellery alongside a female skeleton who is believed to have royal connections.
But it is a three-inch jewel encrusted pendant that is the most valuable of the lot with treasure experts describing it as having “national significance”.
Tom, from Felixstowe, Suffolk, said: “It was just a hobby and I have been doing it for 12 years and only found the odd buckle or medieval coin which are all a bit run-of-the-mill.
“We knew there was something in that area of the grave, but no-one was expecting anything so significant.
“This pendant is particularly well made, of real quality and clearly features commissioned garnets.
“The whole find is quite impressive and everything from the grave is quite valuable but the pendant is certainly the best find.
“It would have been worn on a loop like a piece of jewellery and because it is so elaborate it shows she would have been quite high up.
“If you look at a piece from the Staffordshire Hoard or Sutton Hoo – this is up there with that level of quality.”
Coins in the grave have suggested the skeleton and jewellery date from between 630 and 650AD.
Dr Andrew Rogerson of Norfolk County Council’s Heritage Environment Services (HES), said the pendant is the “most elaborate ever found”.
He said they have “something of major significance” and said the owner was “somebody of considerable note” who would have “most certainly mixed in royal social circles”.
It is too early to give the pendant an exact value but it is likely to run into tens of thousands.
Once the pendant has been subjected to a treasure inquest experts hope it will be acquired by Norwich’s Castle Museum.
Tom added: “This will go to a treasure inquest now then the proceeds of a sale will be split between me, the landowner and some other people on the dig.
“With me being a student it will certainly help me with a few things but I haven’t decided what I’m going to do with it yet.”