Evidence of a romantic gesture by Henry VIII may have been unearthed by detectorists in the first find of its kind.
A golden pendant, uncovered in Warwickshire, bears the “H” and “K” initials of the Tudor king and his first wife Katherine of Aragon. It is fashioned into the shape of a heart and is engraved with a pun on “all yours” and the French word for “always”.
The 500-year-old pendant may have been commissioned as one of a set of prizes handed out to champions in jousting tournaments Henry frequently staged, suggesting it was a public commemoration of his marriage.
It is understood to be the only piece of jewellery of its kind ever found in the UK, and experts have said its size and bold design suggest it was meant to be easily visible among the crowds which would have gathered for jousting and feasts.
Rachel King, the curator of Renaissance Europe at the British Museum, said that while it remained a mystery who owned the “fashionable” jewellery, it was undoubtedly made for “a member of the nobility or a high-ranking courtier”.
She added: “Only figures of this status would have had the financial wherewithal to commission something of this purity and complexity.”
The find was made in 2019 by Charlie Clarke, a Birmingham cafe owner, who had taken up metal detecting just six months before his “once in a lifetime discovery”, The Guardian reported.
The pendant displays relatively poor craftsmanship, suggesting that, despite its monetary value, it was made in a rush, possibly to make the deadline for a major event.
Ms King has said it may have been kept out of sight as Henry moved on to other wives and sought to purge reminders of his life with Katherine.