Metal detectorist finds extraordinary tudor jewel

Judged to be the most important Tudor find for 25 years, the extraordinary discovery of a gold chain and pendant hit the news this month.

According to Artnet News, metal detectorist Charlie Clarke was searching on a friend’s property in Warwickshire, England, when he found the heart-shaped gold pendant attached to a gold chain.

Apart from its exceptional condition and workmanship, the elaborate piece carried the initials “H” and “K” to the reverse of the pendant – as it turned out they referred to Henry and Katherine. What he had unearthed was a jewel created to mark the marriage of Henry VIII to Katherine of Aragon, which lasted from 1509-33.

With the find reported under the Portable Antiquities Scheme, the British Museum dated the piece to around 1521. The front of the pendant is decorated with a Tudor rose, the emblem for the House of Tudor, entwined with a pomegranate bush, the badge of Katherine of Aragon; underneath, the legend “+ TOVS + IORS” offers a pun on toujours, the French word for “always”.

The “H” and “K” initials are inscribed in red and white enamel, in Lombardic script with decorative lacing common throughout the 16th century.

What cannot be determined is who commissioned the pendant, but its sheer quality means that it would have been someone of high standing, probably a courtier.