Treasure found with links to a sunken ship

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A 17TH CENTURY pendant with links to a sunken Spanish ship was stumbled upon by an amateur metal detectorist.

A hearing in Wakefield was told the post-medieval silver locket pendant broke when it was found, and revealed a tooth fracture and a letter hidden inside.

Coroner David Hinchliff recorded the find, in Barwick-in-Elmet, as treasure at the inquest. He said: “An amateur detectorist had been working in that area for the last eight years for two or three times a year. On October 2015 he found a silver medieval-looking locket in a field.”

The private landowner confirmed the man had his permission and he handed it over to the relevant authority.

The inquest was told the find came after two similar lockets were recovered in Northumbria.

After internet searches, it was revealed other similar 
pendants were recovered from a Spanish Empire ship called the Boticaria, which sank in 1681.

Mr Hinchliff, who consulted with the assistant treasure registrar at the British Museum, told the hearing that the 6.680-gram pendant was at least 300 years old.

On the pendant’s top hinge, there are grooves and it bears an incision which reads IHS.

The coroner said: “Three motifs radiate from the base of the pendant, which look like lily trumpets or crystals. They may be intended to be rays of light or the nails that crucified Jesus.”

The initials MRA are inscribed across the centre of the pendant, with a crown above the lettering. The hearing was told that is was made of more than 10 per cent precious metal and that it was probably worn by a Catholic or someone living in North Yorkshire.

Mr Hinchliff said the find was treasure and British Museum would be notified of the ruling.

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