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Anglo Saxon pendant from 6th century found by Whitstable metal detectorists near Marshside between Herne Bay and Canterbury

A metal detectorist who unearthed what looked like a chocolate coin in a field was stunned to discover it could be a gold pendant dating back to the 6th century.

Rachel Carter, 41, and her partner Ricky Schubert headed out to look for treasure after her friend, who owns a farm near Marshside, said they could scour her land.

It was a welcome invitation for Rachel, who wanted to get back into her hobby after taking a break to care for her sick mother.

Rachel Carter and Ricky Schubert found a piece of Anglo Saxon jewellery

“We went once and found nothing,” said Rachel, who lives in Whitstable. “Then just after Christmas - nearly 12 months to the day of my mum dying - we went back.”

Using her partner’s detector, Rachel scanned briefly over a section of earth before setting off towards another area on the far side of the field.

“But Ricky said ‘hang on, you said you wanted to try this part’ and he encouraged me to come back and have another look,” she explained.

A couple have found a gold Saxon pendant while metal detecting. Picture: Alan Langley
A couple have found a gold Saxon pendant while metal detecting. Picture: Alan Langley
Ricky Schubert and Rachel Carter, with the gold pendant
Ricky Schubert and Rachel Carter, with the gold pendant

“As soon as I put the detector down again I got a signal that was going mad, so I dug down and pulled out this pendant.

“It was only about five inches down, and was so perfect and gold and new-looking that at first I thought it was a bit of junk - you’d think you could unwrap it and eat the chocolate from inside.

"I went over to Ricky and said ‘do you reckon this is anything?’ and he was like ‘oh my God’.

The gold pendant has been described as a "significant find|"
The gold pendant has been described as a "significant find|"

“Some people in my club have been digging for 50 years and they say they’ve never seen anything like it.

“My mum always said to me ‘one day you’ll find something really special’. All I ever wanted was to find something gold and religious for her, because she was Catholic. And then I did. It’s like she sent this as a sign, saying ‘see? keep going’.

“We’ve been back a few times since then, and haven’t found anything. Usually you find caps, coins, that sort of thing - but we’ve found absolutely nothing since. It’s really weird.”

A couple have found a gold Saxon pendant while metal detecting. Picture: Alan Langley
A couple have found a gold Saxon pendant while metal detecting. Picture: Alan Langley

The pendant has been reported to Kent Finds Liaison Officer.

“It would be lovely to see it in a museum, with my name underneath it,” said Rachel. “But to be honest, I’d rather keep it because it’s absolutely amazing - finding it was like winning the lottery, without having known what the ticket was worth.

"It would be great to find out more about the history of the area, and why the pendant came to be there.”

Ricky Shubert and Rachel Carter found a gold Saxon pendant while metal detecting. Picture: Alan Langley
Ricky Shubert and Rachel Carter found a gold Saxon pendant while metal detecting. Picture: Alan Langley

Andrew Richardson, outreach and archives manager at Canterbury Archaeological Trust, says the pendant is a “significant find”.

“My first impression is that it is a gold coin of 6th or early 7th century date - possibly an imported Frankish tremissis - that has been re-fashioned as a pendant,” he said.

“We have seen these before in Kent. Imports of quantities of Byzantine and Frankish gold coinage into Kent were not infrequent, probably as gifts. Anglo-Saxon England was not thought a coin using economy, so coins tended to either get melted down to make jewellery, or occasionally got refashioned as pendants, as is the case here. During the early 7th century, the Kentish kings began to mint their own gold coins, known as thrymsas and from then on a coin using economy developed.

“Herne Bay, and that stretch of the north Kent coast, is certainly an area where there is plenty of evidence of prehistoric, Roman and Anglo-Saxon settlement.

“Coastal erosion here means that considerable archaeology is being revealed along this stretch of shore, and I’d expect this to continue. This is a significant find, and the finder has done the right thing by reporting it to the Finds Liaison Officer for Kent.”


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