Stoke & Staffordshire

Stoke-on-Trent City Council's bid to buy Iron Age gold

The torcs Image copyright British Museum
Image caption The jewellery was found buried in Leekfrith

A council is campaigning to raise £325,000 to stop the "oldest" Iron Age gold found in Britain being sold to private bidders.

The gold jewellery, believed to be about 2,500 years old, was discovered by friends Mark Hambleton and Joe Kania on Staffordshire Moorlands farmland.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council has been given three months to buy the three necklaces and bracelet by the Crown.

If its bid is successful, the gold will go on public display.

'International importance'

The council has until 5 December to meet the valuation price, set by the Treasure Valuation Committee.

Council leader Dave Conway said: "It is going to take [a] big fundraising effort to ensure we can save these stunning finds."

The council said that if it failed to meet the target, the artefacts could be split up and sold to private bidders.

It hopes the gold can be displayed at the city's Potteries Museum and Art Gallery.

Image copyright Staffordshire County Council
Image caption The metal detectorists found the gold torcs buried close to each other just under the surface

The torcs were found separately, about one metre (3ft) apart, buried near the surface in Leekfrith last December.

Experts believe they date back to 400BC. They are thought to be from the continent and would have been worn by important women in society.

The location is almost 50 miles away from where the £3m Anglo Saxon Staffordshire Hoard was discovered by a metal detector enthusiast in 2009.

British Museum curator Julia Farley said: "These beautiful gold torcs are a find of international importance.

"They are probably the earliest Iron Age gold objects ever found in Britain.

"Nothing like this hoard has ever been found in Britain before.

"I very much hope that this incredible find can be acquired by the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, close to where it was carefully buried on a hilltop thousands of years ago."

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