Treasure Finds and Stories
9th Century Gold Aestel at Auction: It'll make your heart skip a beat
Tim Pearson, a metal detectorist and amateur treasure hunter (aren't we all?) found what he thought was a milk bottle cap back in 2005.
Pearson was detecting in a South Yorkshire field that he had combed over for more than six years. In the past the field that had yielded nothing more than a Roman coin for him, but this time, there was something special waiting.
Tim says "When I broke open the clod of earth the first I saw of the aestel was its flat back covered in mud. Seriously just looked like a piece of gold coloured foil, hence the milk bottle top similarity. Obviously, soon as I had the object in my hand I knew it was something special!"
But as you can guess, it wasn't a milk bottle top.
What Pearson found is a relic now known as the "Yorkshire Aestel" and is the only one of its kind held by a private owner. It's a hallow "cast pointer" that would have been used by monks as an aid to reading manuscripts.
The pointer measures just 31mm high and weighs 4.12grams and is known to be one of seven pointers in existence. The most famous pointer, "The Alfred Jewel" was found in Somerset in 1693 and resides in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.
Four more were found in King Alfred's Wessex while the other five identified aestels are "The Minster Lovell Jewel" in Oxfordshire, The Bowleaze Jewel" in Dorset, "The Wessex Jewel" in Wilshire, "The Bidford Bobble" in Warwickshire, and "The Borg Aestel" in Norway.
This relic will be auctioned at Bonham's on October 15th during their Sale of Antiquities in London. It is expected to garner 15,000 pounds, or over $27,000
Madeleine Perridge of Bonhams Antiquities Department, comments: "When handling an object like this, anyone with a love of history and literature knows that they are in touch with centuries of monastic scholarly endeavour, and possibly with royal sponsorship of that work. It is a privilege to be selling this beautiful rare object."
We are proud and honored to say that Tim Pearson stopped by our blog the night this was written and passed on some photos to share. The first and third photo are of Tim's Aestel, and we must say that it would have made our hearts skip a beat or five if we had dug this up. Yet again, one more instance where we are kicking ourselves for not planning a trip across the pond earlier.