The very first time 3-year-old James Hyatt went treasure hunting, he struck gold.But this wasn’t an ordinary piece of gold.It was a 16th-century locket believed to be embossed with an image
of the Queen of Heaven and Earth.“It went beep beep beep,” said James of the sound his metal detector made.
When they heard that sound, James and his father, Jason Hyatt, had no idea they were about to unearth a 500-year-old Virgin Mary pendant estimated to be worth about $4 million.
“All of a sudden we got a buzz from the metal detector, quite a strong buzz,” the boy’s father Jason Hyatt told BBC. “We dug six to eight inches down and lo and behold, we got a flash of gold. “I moved the earth around and brought it to the surface and there it was.”
James, Jason, and James’ grandfather were metal detecting in a field in Hockley, Essex at the time of their discovery.
James had been using the device for only minutes before it began to beep.
The gold pendant was found about 8 inches below the surface.
“Then we dug into the mud. There was gold there. We didn’t have a map – only pirates have treasure maps,” James told Daily Mail.
The pendant, which is about an inch long and 73 percent gold, is believed to be a reliquary which is a container used to hold religious relics such as the remains of religious figures or objects associated with them.
The piece has a back panel that slides out to reveal a cavity to hold the relic.
According to The British Museum, this could have been believed to contain a piece of the true cross.
It features an image of a woman, initially reported to be the Virgin Mary but the museum says it could also be Saint Helena. She is shown with a halo of light supporting a cross while standing over a checkered floor.
The diamond-shaped pendant is also inscribed with the name of the Magi, also known as the wise men, three kings, or men from the East, who followed a star to find and pay homage to the newborn savior Jesus Christ
Their names IASPAR, MELCIOR, BALTASAR, are inscribed on the sides of the pendant, while the back of the pendant shows a heart shows with an incision and four eye-shaped symbols that are weeping.
These are believed to represent the five holy wounds of Jesus Christ, which was a popular part of medieval piety. Experts say the locket is from the era of Henry VIII and could have been owned by a member of the royal family.
There are only three other similar reliquaries like this one that are known to have survived.
The piece was declared a treasure trove at inquest which means it was required to be sold to a museum.
Jason said the proceeds of the sale will be shared with the landowner.
“James was so excited when he realized he had found real treasure. Dad was blown away. In 15 years doing it as a hobby I’d never found anything like it. If we get any money it will be for the children,” said Jason.
Apparently, James is known to have luck when it comes to finding things of value.
“My son is one of the luckiest people ever. If we go to the doctor he’ll put his hand down the side of the sofa and pull out a tenner,” said Jason.
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