England

Alston pupils unearth 4,000-year-old gold hair tress

Gold ornament Image copyright North Pennines AONB Partnership/PA
Image caption It is hoped the hair tress will be reunited with one found in 1935

A group of schoolboys has unearthed a rare 4,000-year-old ornament during a dig in Northumberland.

The children, from Alston Primary School in Cumbria, were taking part in an excavation at Kirkhaugh when they saw a glint of gold in the soil.

The object, which was found in a burial mound, is believed to be a decorated hair tress from about 2,300 BC.

One of the boys, Joseph Bell, aged seven, said when he saw the gold in the ground he started "dancing with joy".

'Exceptional'

The ornament, which is 1.3in (33mm) long and dates back to the Copper Age, was found alongside three flint arrowheads and a jet button.

It is thought to have been worn by a metal worker who could have travelled to Britain from overseas in search of gold and copper.

Image copyright North Pennines AONB
Image caption The boys said they were "very happy" when they found out their find was gold

Eight-year-old Luca Alderson, said: "When I first saw it I felt happy but I thought it was plastic. When I found out it was gold, I was very happy."

This find is believed to be the partner of a matching one discovered at Kirkhaugh during an excavation in 1935 led by Herbert Maryon.

The dig was arranged by the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty as part of an archaeology project.

Paul Frodsham, who led the project, said: "All archaeological sites are important in their own way, but this is exceptional.

"It can be regarded as marking the very start of mineral exploitation in the North Pennines, leading in due course to Roman exploitation of lead and silver, and eventually to the vast post-medieval lead industry for which the region is internationally famous."

After being analysed by specialists, it is hoped the head tress will be reunited with the one found in 1935 which is housed at the Great North Museum in Newcastle.

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