A rare golden cross found by a builder in Lincolnshire with his trusty metal detector will be sold at auction, and is estimated to fetch between £6,000 and £8,000.
Father-of-three Jason Willis, 38, lives in Norwich and enjoys going metal detecting with eight of his friends each Sunday.
Over the past six years Jason has travelled from Wiltshire to Cambridgeshire to Oxfordshire in search of treasure, but it was Lincolnshire where he hit gold.
Jason was detecting with his trusty Minelab Etrac on a Sunday in April 2019 at a field in Sutton St Edmund, in the South Holland district of Lincolnshire.
A few inches down, he spotted something that looked interesting. After washing off the mud he realised he was holding a tiny golden cross. It has since been described as the Throckenholt Cross. The early medieval gold cross pendant measures 31mm in length and dates from the 11th to 12th century.
The rare find will be offered for sale by Dix Noonan Webb in its auction of jewellery, watches and objects of vertu on Tuesday, March 15 at its Mayfair sale room on Bolton Street in London.
Jason said: “My friends and I have had some good finds over the years, but when I came upon the cross and washed it off, I knew it was something special and by the shining yellow-colour, I knew it was gold!
“I handed it in to our local finds liaison officer and after two years, going through the treasure process, the cross was returned to me and I was told that I could now sell it.
“I saw that Dix Noonan Webb were having a valuation day in Norwich, so I took it along. I am just about to move house, so the money from the sale of the cross, will be put towards that.”
Frances Noble, head of the jewellery department and associate director at Dix Noonan Webb, said: “This pendant is of a form associated with Medieval Greek Othodoxy in the Eastern Baltic region and a very similar example was discovered in Denmark.
“In the medieval period, Denmark formed part of the Hanseatic League, a commercial and defensive alliance of merchant guilds and market towns in central and northern Europe, growing from a few north German towns in the late 12th century, to over 200 towns at the height of its powers between the 13th and 15th centuries.
“At its peak, the Hanseatic League had a virtual monopoly over maritime trade in the North and Baltic seas. King’s Lynn, on the North Norfolk coast, just 20 miles from Sutton St Edmund, was a significant trading partner for the Hanseatic League, and this trade link may provide a possible explanation for these two very similar cross pendants”.
Nigel Mills, consultant (artefacts and antiquities) at Dix Noonan Webb, added: “The parish of Sutton St. Edmund, where the cross was found, includes the hamlet of Throckenholt, where a hermitage and chapel were granted to Thorney Abbey, by Nigel, Bishop of Ely (1133-69) in the 12th century.
“It is probable that there had been a hermitage here for some time, as the Red Book of Thorney states that Throckenholt had been used as a hermitage since 1107. The hermitage is mentioned again in 1189-97 and in 1348.
“Between 1293-1305, records show that Abbot Odo of Thorney ordered that two or three monks should reside there, as had previously been the case. The chapel stood where Throckenholt farmhouse now stands: fragments of stone, bones and other relics have been found on this site at various times. It survived until at least 1540 when it is shown on a map of Wisbech hundred (the original is in Wisbech Museum).”