Tyne & Wear

Bamburgh Castle archaeologist finds gold from 800AD

Both sides of the gold treasure
Image caption The front (left) and reverse (right) of the gold treasure

A decorative gold item believed to be about 1,200 years old has been found at a Northumberland archaeological dig.

It was found at Bamburgh Castle and project director, Graeme Young, said it could date back to around 800AD.

The 1.4cm (0.5 inch) piece of gold has yet to be properly identified or valued, but will go on show at the castle later this year.

Chris Calvert, director at Bamburgh Castle, said: "It's the largest piece of gold we've found so far."

A group of 20 French and British students have been excavating Bamburgh Castle's west ward as part of a project that has been going on for about 10 years.

French student Constance Durgeat found the piece while sifting through oyster and mussel shell mixed with silt.

'High status'

The unidentified piece has tiny beads of gold and spiral patterns.

Mr Young said: "In its day, it was probably worth the income of two or three peasants for a year, quite easily.

"It's way beyond the pocket of your average citizen in the kind of period.

"It's the biggest and one of the best decorated pieces we've found at Bamburgh.

"I think everyone was absolutely over the moon, the students were all very excited.

"You're looking at something that is very high status. The workmanship alone is just astonishing and you need a microscope to see the full benefit."

The last piece of gold found at Bamburgh was a small plaque in 2008.

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