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June 20, 2024
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Gold jewellery dating back to the Dark Ages found in field near St Just

A fragment of a silver penannular brooch dating back to the Dark Ages has been found in Cornwall. The brooch with gold inlay filigree and blue glass setting was discovered by metal detectorist Les Tomkin some six inches deep in the ground on a cultivated field near St Just in West Penwith.

The find, made on September 12, 2021, was recorded as being part of a much larger silver brooch dating back to between the fifth and eighth centuries AD, but may have been reworked at a later date to incorporate an early Medieval Irish style motif.

During a treasure inquest held in Truro on Thursday, January 18, Cornwall’s finds liaison officer at the time, Tasha Fullbrook said the centrepiece was lozenge in shape and this item had been part of a much larger brooch which had snapped, suggesting also that the original brooch had been cast.

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Some 16mm long, 12mm wide and six millimetres thick, the rare artefact was identified as being from the Early Medieval period known as the Dark Ages by experts from the British Museum’s European and Early Medieval collection. The Dark Ages in Europe date back from the fall of the Roman Empire to the turn of the millennium.

Many consider this period ‘dark’ due to a lack of cultural advancement in society. This was an assumption made due to the minimal historical documentation produced during the time.

Recording a treasure, assistant coroner for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly Guy Davies, said the Penlee House Museum in Penzance had expressed an interest in acquiring the brooch fragment. Penannular brooches were common in the Roman period as a practical fastener.

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