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Leek metal detectorists shocked by "once in a lifetime" find

Copyright Staffordshire County Council

An archaeological find on Staffordshire farmland is believed to include the earliest examples of Iron Age gold ever discovered in Britain.

Life long friends Mark Hambleton and Joe Kania had searched the field in Leek previously without success.

It was Mark's dad Roy who had persuaded them to return to the countryside to look for treasure. Sadly Roy died in the New Year, but lived to see the gold pieces they had discovered.

The collection, which has been named the Leekfrith Iron Age Torcs, is made up of three necklaces and one bracelet.

Mark kept the items by his bedside before they could hand them over to experts at the Portable Antiquities Scheme at Birmingham Museums.

Today the torcs, which could date back as far as 400BC and are thought to be from the continent, have been shown publicly for the first time.

An inquest will be held in North Staffordshire this morning and Coroner Ian Smith will rule if the pieces are treasure.

Expert Dr Julia Farley, Curator of British & European Iron Age Collections for the British Museum has assessed the find: “This unique find is of international importance. It dates to around 400–250 BC, and is probably the earliest Iron Age gold work ever discovered in Britain.

“The torcs were probably worn by wealthy and powerful women, perhaps people from the continent who had married into the local community. Piecing together how these objects came to be carefully buried in a Staffordshire field will give us an invaluable insight into life in Iron Age Britain.”

Archaeologists from Stoke-On-Trent City Council led the site investigations on the farmland in the Staffordshire Moorlands and say it is a “complete” find with no evidence of any other pieces on the land.

Staffordshire County Council Leader, Philip Atkins, said: “As a county and as a council we are both proud and unbelievably lucky to be home to some truly exceptional finds, including of course the Staffordshire Hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold.

“This amazing find of gold torcs in the North of the county is quite simply magical and we look forward to sharing the secrets and story they hold in the years to come.”

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