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Friday, 5 April, 2002, 17:54 GMT 18:54 UK
Golden cup unearthed in field
Cliff Bradshaw
Amateur archaeologist Cliff Bradshaw found the cup
One of the earliest treasures ever discovered in England has been uncovered in a Kent field.

The precious Bronze Age golden cup was discovered by a man using a metal detector at Woodnesborough, near Sandwich.

The cup measures only four-and-a-half inches high and is beaten from a single lump of gold.
The precious Broze Age cup
The four-and-a-half inch cup as it was found in Kent

Dating back to 1700-1500 BC, the embossed ceremonial vessel is roughly the same age as Stonehenge - and is 2,500 years older than the site of Sutton Hoo in Suffolk.

It is a rare find - the only similar treasure is the Rillaton cup which was found buried with a human skeleton in Cornwall in 1837.

Cliff Bradshaw, the amateur archaeologist who unearthed the cup, said: "I'm thrilled that I found the cup about 18 inches below the surface at the limit of my detector's range.

"I realised when I took the cup home and looked in a book that I'd discovered something similar to the Rillaton cup."

He added that he had phoned a friend at the Canterbury Archaeological Trust, who did not believe him at first.

"He had a shock the next morning when he opened his post and saw the photos I sent him," he said.

Goldworking in North-West Europe
Goldworking began in the middle of the third millennium
By 1900 BC techniques had improved
Embossed gold like this cup is very rare - only 20 objects have been discovered

English Heritage is paying for the excavation of the prehistoric barrow mound in the field where the cup was uncovered.

To add to the cup, they have found a grave pit, containing fragments of bones as well as flint tools and pottery.

The evidence shows people have been living near the field at Ringlemere Farm since at least 5000 BC.

David Miles, the Chief Archaeologist of English Heritage said: "Thanks to the team of amateurs and professionals which brought to light this outstanding and internationally important find, we have been able to undertake the vital work of excavating the barrow and placing the magnificent cup in its context."

Valuation

The cup is now at the British Museum, pending the result of a Coroner's Inquest to decide whether it is treasure under the 1996 Treasure Act.

If it is, the British Museum will be given the chance to buy it.

It has been reported the cup is worth around 250,000.

But English Heritage says its value will be decided by a government-appointed body called the Treasure Valuation Committee.

The profits from the sale would be split between Mr Bradshaw and the owner of the field in which it was found.

Although the team at work on the site do not know where the gold cup was made, they believe it shows Kent was part of an early Bronze Age culture that could afford to furnish its dead with rich graves.

A few cups in precious metals have come to light in Europe but the Rillaton cup - which George V used to hold his collar studs for many years - is the only similar find in Britain.


Click here to go to Kent
See also:

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