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Wednesday, 6 February, 2002, 09:33 GMT
Tudor 'medallion man' cross found
The field where the cross was found is being kept a secret
The cross is dated late 14th or early 15th Century
An amateur archaeologist has unearthed a 600-year-old crucifix in a farmer's muddy field.

Andrew Harper, 55, was using his metal detector on a field in Haughton, Cheshire, when he came across the silver gilt cross lying in top soil.

The piece, belonging to what Mr Harper calls "a Tudor medallion man", would have been worn around the neck on a chain or thong.

It has been declared treasure trove and handed over to experts at the British Museum who have dated it to the late 14th or early 15th Century.

I want it to go on display and not lost in the archives like a lot of items

Finder Andrew Harper

Cheshire Coroner Nicholas Rheinberg presided over an inquest to decide what to do with the trinket at Crewe.

He said there was no evidence the crucifix had been deliberately stashed in the field but probably fell on to the ground and was lost.

He said: "If it was on a chain or thong, the chain could have broken and it would have fallen to the ground."

Fashion item

He told Mr Harper: "It is very nice to know there are people who do properly bring these items to my attention.

"You have the potential for all this history to go missing if people just pocket the items for their own use."

Water-feature designer Mr Harper, who has not had the item valued, told the inquest he wanted it to be displayed in a museum.

He said: "I want it to go on display and not lost in the archives like a lot of items. If it goes to the British Museum it will just disappear."

Aerial photograph of the British Museum
The British Museum says the cross is of interest

Speaking after the inquest Mr Harper, from Sandbach, Cheshire, said the cross may have been an early fashion statement by a long-gone "medallion man".

He said: "I know priests used to wear special rings but wearing a cross around the neck was very rare.

"I suppose different things come into fashion and this may have been the work of a Tudor medallion man."

The exact location of the field, which has yielded other medieval and bronze Age artefacts, is being kept secret to avoid it being overrun by metal-detecting enthusiasts.

Pendant crucifix

An expert at the British Museum said the 3cm-high crucifix was more significant in the story of changing religious practices than as a piece of jewellery.

James Robinson, curator of medieval antiquities, said: "It is wonderful that a silver and gold crucifix has survived for so long because things like that were so often melted down to make other things.

"As a piece of jewellery it is not finely worked and is really rather average and crude.

"But it is significant as there was an increase in personal devotional worship in the late 14th Century and this pendant crucifix is an example of that type of worship."

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See also:

24 Jan 02 | Arts
Nigeria demands treasures back
23 Oct 01 | England
Buried treasure comes in water
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