Published: 00:01, 05 February 2017
Priceless medieval jewellery dating back 1,500 years has been uncovered along with remains of a mysterious woman.
The unique finds were uncovered in a field in Stowting near Ashford by a member of the public using a metal detector.
Experts from the British Museum believe the treasure dates from the mid to late 6th century, and forms the burial assemblage of a high-status medieval Kentish woman.
Treasure hunters made the shocking discovery in May last year when scouring the fields of a landowner in the rural parish.
They uncovered a human rib with a fragment of copper alloy embedded in it.
Buried with the remains were a copper alloy brooch, a silver key-stone broach with garnets, a silver bracelet and a gold disc pendant.
The value of the finds is not yet known.
Historians at Maidstone Museum have already expressed an interest in acquiring the artefacts, which were declared as treasure at an inquest held at the Archbishop’s Palace, Maidstone, on Tuesday of last week.
Under the Treasure Act 1996, anyone who finds historic artefacts must report it to the coroner within two weeks or they could face three months in prison and a fine of up to £5,000.
Artefacts found to be more than 300 years old or containing high levels of precious metals automatically qualify as treasure.
The inquest heard a square-headed broach was decorated with knot-work and a panel to represent a face with hair or helmet plumes.
Another was described as a silver keystone broach with purple garnets, and experts claimed large numbers of these type of broaches have been discovered in the Kent area.
They also found a silver slip-knot bracelet and a complete and undamaged gold disc pendant, which were in use from the late 5th to 7th centuries.
Assistant coroner for central and south east Kent, Katrina Hepburn said at the inquest: “The assemblage is typical of a high-status female Kentish burial from the mid to late 6th century.
“I am satisfied from the evidence from the British Museum that these are artefacts dating from the 6th century and that four of the objects are made of more than 10% precious metals.
“I will therefore confirm that this is indeed treasure.”