On a day that would change his life forever, an avid treasure hunter and metal detectorist was searching through the soil near the English town of Market Harborough. While scanning beneath a tree, he stumbled upon something golden that caught his eye. What it turned out it be shocked him and people throughout the world.
He Had Been An Amateur Treasure Hunter For Three Decades
Metal detectorist Kevin Duckett is no stranger to making discoveries on his adventures in the English countryside. Treasure hunting had been one of his biggest hobbies for more than three decades, before he made the find in 2017 that would make him famous.
Over the course of those three decades, Duckett had seen his fair share of interesting things while out hunting, but nothing could have prepared him for this.
He Knew It Was Special
The second that Duckett picked up the artifact, he knew that he had found something extraordinary. Yet, it would take years until he finally found out the truth of his discovery. The conclusion was that it might have belonged to a British Monarch.
While we may never know exactly how the precious piece of gold got to be where Duckett found it, all that matters is that it was back in the hands of people who cared about it.
Britain Has A Rich History
For centuries, Britain has been ruled by many, many monarchs, each making their name in history (whether good or bad). Luckily for us, many of their relics have been found and placed in museums for us to marvel at.
Throughout the ages, historians have made discoveries ranging from jewelry, gemstones, weapons, clothing, and more, that we can view with our own eyes. It is with these items that we are able to piece together the history of the area.
A Possible Connection With King Richard III
At first, it was believed that what Duckett had found might have belonged to King Richard III. He was the last king of the House of York who was killed during the Battle of Bosworth Field, which marked the end of the Middle Ages.
This is because King Richard's remains were found in 2012 beneath a parking structure in Leicester, which is less than 20 miles away from where Duckett made his incredible find.
The Beginning of Duckett's Fascination With Long-Lost Treasure
According to the Northamptonshire Telegraph, Duckett began his hobby of metal detecting the English countryside back in the 1980s. However, it wasn't until 2017 that he finally found something newsworthy.
This goes to show just how determined and patient someone has to be if they ever want to find an item of note. It was in 2017 that Duckett was finally given permission to search a field behind the Market Harborough Golf Club, not far from the center of town.
Not Far From Where He Lived
Luckily, Duckett didn't have to travel far to the golf course as it was just about 10 miles from his house. Until that point, the treasure hunter had never had the opportunity to explore the area, so he was very excited.
In February 2021, he spoke to the Northamptonshire Telegraph. "Being a new location, I was on my own as I wanted to go along and do a test run," he said.
Even though Duckett didn't really expect to, there was always a chance that he might find something during this first search he was performing alone.
The chances were higher, in fact, because Market Harborough dates back to the time of the Saxons. There are even ruins of a medieval village being closely located to the field he was preparing to search. So, while he didn't have his hopes set too high, he was still experiencing some level of excitement.
He Wasn't In The Field For Long
According to Duckett, " I hadn't been working away for long when my metal detector started to emit a very loud signal and buzz like mad." Of course, he'd had minor discoveries before in the 30 years that he had been a metal detectorist, so he wasn't all that thrilled at first.
However, when he dug down just a couple of inches, he knew he had found something out of the ordinary; he just didn't know what it was yet.
He Didn't Expect Anything Remarkable
When his detector first started going off, Duckett admitted that he thought he might have stumbled upon some garbage, like a milk bottle top or other insignificant item.
Yet, when he bent down to take a closer look, he realized that he couldn't have been more wrong. Speaking to the news, he said, "I brushed off the soil, and I knew straight away that it was a Tudor piece."
He Guessed What It Was To The Best Of His Knowledge
While examining the piece and tapping into his own knowledge of history, he deduced that item dated sometime between the 15th and 17th centuries. But the age of the find wasn't all that amazed him.
He also quickly realized because of the object's weight and color that it was solid gold! After all of those years, Duckett had quite literally struck gold. But the question still remained: what did he exactly find, and what was its importance?
It Was More Than Just Gold
Upon closer inspection, Duckett saw that the item was the statue of a man, only around 2.5 inches tall.
He told reporters, "I brushed off the soil and sat down in amazement. The rush of adrenaline and the buzz of excitement started to flow through my body. I was holding what appeared to be a heavy solid gold and enameled figurine." However, it could be a figurine of anyone, so the question was if it had belonged to any person of importance.
He Did The Right Thing
Although Duckett still didn't know exactly what he had found and its significance, he did know that it was important. He commented, "I was totally stunned – I knew instantly that this was something really special indeed."
Being the honorable person that he is, he then turned it over to the British Museum for safekeeping. The curiosity of what he found was killing him, so he began his own research.
His Research Was Extensive
When talking to the Northamptonshire Telegraph, Duckett admitted, "Over the course of more than three years, I must have sent hundreds and hundreds of emails to academics, historians, researchers, and experts all over the country trying to get to the bottom of this. Day in and day out I've worked away at it. Felt like Sherlock Holmes at times!"
But time and time again, Duckett came up empty-handed. He refused to give up.
He Stumbled On King Henry VI
Finally, his research began to narrow down to the English King Henry VI. The son of Henry V, he was the monarch of the country during the 15th century, ascended to the throne in 1422 when he was merely nine months old.
Then, after his grandfather's (Charles VI) death, he also became the King of France, something that his father had always dreamed of and spent his life trying to accomplish.
He Wasn't The Best King
Although his father was known as a great warrior king, Henry VI didn't take after him. Plus, he had inherited the throne during the domestic unrest of the Hundred Years' War between England and France.
Unfortunately, Henry VI was not the kind of person able to handle such an intense situation and has been described as timid and as someone who shied away from violence. At the time, he was the wrong king for the country.
He Wasn't Mentally Fit
According to multiple accounts, not only was Henry VI weak, but he was also plagued with mental health issues for the majority of his adult life. With the country already in a weakened state and ruled by a powerless king, a fight for power began to brew.
This resulted in the War of the Roses, a civil war in England between the houses of Lancaster and York, both violently competing for the throne.
Henry Wasn't Long For This World
Once the power struggle was out in the open, Henry was removed from the throne and locked in the Tower of London by his rival, Edward IV, who took power. While in the Tower of London, Henry died in 1471, most likely the result of murder.
Because of Edward's treatment of Henry, the country began to see Henry as a martyr and praise him. Then, it didn't take long for him to be named a royal saint. In later years, it is even said that he had performed some miracles.
His Popularity After Death Was Unbelievable
As it turns out, Henry VI's martyrdom and the support he gained from the English people after his death helped his half-nephew Henry Tudor claim a right to England's throne.
At this point, it wouldn't be unusual for gold figurines to be cast of Henry or for the figurine to have the letters "SH" on it, standing for Saint Henry. Looking at the figurine that he had discovered, Duckett was now convinced that the figurine he had found was of King Henry VI.
An Enlightening Video
In the Historic Royal Palaces video, experts can be seen recreating the crown that was once worn by the infamous King Henry VIII, the son of the first Tudor king. It was quite a lavish crown, decorated with numerous precious gems.
There were also five fleurs-de-lis designs, a pattern that is typically closely associated with the royal family. On top of that, in the center of each of the five fleurs-de-lis were small figurines.
The Crown Had Been Worn Before Henry VIII
The crown was different when it was first made than when it was worn by Henry VIII. Originally, there were three different representations of Christ, as well as depictions of the Virgin Mary and Saint George.
However, when Henry VIII inherited the crown, he made some of his own alterations. Most likely due to his break from the Catholic Church, he replaced the three figurines of Christ with three saint kings of England instead.
The Crown Was Worn At Special Events
With the crown changed for Henry VIII's tastes, he proceeded to wear it at some of his reign's most important events. This included his marriage to Anne of Cleves in 1540.
Then, when he finally passed away, the crown was passed down to the following monarchs of England. In total, it was worn at a total of six coronations. That's a relatively long period of time for one crown to be worn.
The Final Monarch To Wear The Crown
The final person to wear the crown turned out to be King Charles I. Incredibly, there is even a painting of him with it from 1631. This would be the painting that the Historic Royal Palaces team would use to make their own recreation for their video.
Unfortunately, Charles I's reign would end in failure after the English Civil War broke out in 1642. But what did that mean for the crown if Charles I was the last King of England to wear it?
Charles Was Executed
Just seven years later, Charles was executed, which began the period of English history known as the Interregnum. During this time, regardless that the monarchy was restored in 1660, many royal treasures, including King Henry VIII's modified crown, were lost.
For years, historians' consensus was that the crown was most likely been melted down into the coins and the precious gems sold to anyone rich enough to buy them.
Duckett Went To See The Replicated Crown
Duckett decided to see the crown's replica made to see if his figurine might have belonged to the real crown. At the time, the recreated crown was on display at Henry VIII's former home, Hampton Court Palace.
Pretty confident that he was right in believing he had a piece of the crown, he was full of emotion. "I'll never forget the sheer excitement as I got closer to the Grand Hall where the replica sat in all its glory," he explained.
He Couldn't Believe His Eyes
Duckett finally made it to the crown and discovered that the two pieces were indeed a match. He went on to say, “I entered the room, and my figurine’s identical twin was staring right back at me.” Yet, that didn't explain why part of it was in Market Harborough.
According to a biography written about Charles I, the crown was broken down to a smaller size before the English Civil War. Furthermore, in one painting, the crown is shown missing the once-present figurines.
Charles I Could Have Taken It
It's speculated that Charles may have held onto the figurine of Henry VI for some reason. After all, when he fled Oliver Cromwell's forces after losing the Battle of Naseby in 1645, he took a route that led him straight by Market Harborough.
Some of the possible situations for the figurine being there are that Charles dropped it in a moment of haste or that it was taken when the Parliamentarians captured a train as it traveled through the same area.
Duckett Is Convinced He Has A Missing Piece
Although the British Museum is yet to confirm that the figurine Duckett found is indeed a piece of the crown worn by Henry VIII, Duckett is convinced that it is. Experts claim that the artifact dates back to the Late Middle Ages, which ended just before Henry's notorious reign began.
Furthermore, the experts have stated that Duckett's item is one of the most impressive to ever be discovered by an amateur detectorist. However, the Treasure Valuation Committee must first assess the artifact.
If Real, It's Worth A Lot Of Money
If the artifact turns out to be genuine, the British Museum will have the opportunity to purchase it for their collections. According to the Smithsonian Magazine, if it's real, it could be valued somewhere in the ballpark of $2.7 million.
If this happens, then the money would be split between Duckett and the owner of the land that he found the artifact on. However, it appears that Duckett has something else in mind.
He Wants Everyone To Enjoy It
A lot of people might just take the money and run with it. However, Duckett knows he wouldn't feel right taking money for the item if it turns out to be genuine. Instead, he said, "I'm very proud to have rediscovered [the statuette] for the world to enjoy and study."
HRP's chief curator, Lucy Worsley, said, "It's great news that after centuries of slumber, this little golden figure has been revealed once more. It is tantalizing to imagine its true history."