Archaeologists working on the HS2 High Speed Rail project have discovered an 800-year-old pendant featuring three golden lions.
The precious treasure, which dates back to the 12th century, was found in Wormleighton, a village in Warwickshire about 50 miles southeast of Birmingham.
It features the iconic three golden lions on a red field, reflecting the distinctive English football crest, and likely to have decorated horse harnesses.
Archaeologists suspect that it was completely new when lost and may have detached from its suspended structure during use.
As England’s Lionesses prepare for a historic football final, HS2 Ltd has released a photo of a necklace that was revealed as part of an archaeological excavation.
The origins of the famous Three Lions emblem that adorn the kits of England’s national teams go back nearly 1,000 years
The history of the three lions
The origins of the iconic Three Lions emblem that adorn the kits of England’s national teams go back nearly 1,000 years.
William the Conqueror, who ruled England from 1066 until his death in 1087, used two lions on a red background as his coat of arms and brought the symbol to the English throne.
Henry II, King of England from 1154 until his death in 1189, used three lions on a red background.
He added a lion to two of William the Conqueror when he married Eleanor of Aquitaine in 1152, because she also had her family’s coat of arms in the shape of a lion.
This type of pendant depicts the arms of England from the reign of Richard I (1189-1199) to the founding of the Lancastrian dynasty in 1399.
The use of black as a symbol of England dates back to the first Norman king William the Conqueror, who ruled from 1066 until 1087.
William the Conqueror used two lions on a red background as a coat of arms and brought the symbol to the English throne.
Henry II, King of England from 1154 until his death in 1189, added a third lion after his marriage to Eleanor of Aquitaine, which occurred in 1152.
This type of belt necklace depicts the arms of England from the reign of Henry’s son Richard I (1189-1199) to the founding of the Lancastrian dynasty in 1399, so it likely dates back to the 12th century.
According to HS2 Ltd, the state-funded body responsible for the delivery of the upcoming HS2 line, the site where the necklace was found would be from the Iron Age or British Romano settlement.
HS2 Limited announced the discovery ahead of the Women’s European Championship final against Germany at Wembley Stadium on Sunday.
A spokeswoman for HS2 Ltd.
“The whole country has been successful in supporting the England women’s team and we hope this fantastic discovery will inspire the Lionesses to create a piece of history on Sunday.”
The necklace is a shield shaped design – a “heater” shield to be precise with a flat surface with sides steeply sloped to a point.
Measures less than 2 cm (0.7 in) wide and over 4 cm (1.5 in) high from top to bottom, including carabiner
William the Conqueror (shown here), who ruled England from 1066 until his death in 1087, used two lions on a red background as his coat of arms and brought the symbol to the English throne
It is made of a copper alloy, probably copper, gilded – covered with a thin layer of gold.
The three lions are engraved on a red background, made of opaque deep red enamel, probably originally intended to symbolize the blood of the battlefield, while the reverse is clear and undecorated.
The pendant measures less than 2cm (0.7in) wide and over 4cm (1.5in) from top to bottom, including the carabiner.
The weathering of the red enamel and some of the gilding is evident, possibly as the necklace was rubbed against the horse’s belt during use.
HS2 Ltd said the condition of this object is “absolutely wonderful” and that it is very rare to see this horse harness necklace in “excellent preservation”.
The upcoming HS2 line aims to provide a high-speed rail service connecting London and northern England, but before HS2 workers build bridges, tunnels, tracks and stations, archaeological work is taking place along the route line.
This will ensure that the concrete is not dumped on the secrets of Britain’s past, even though it has been controversial for tearing down historic buildings and natural sites.
Last month, HS2 Ltd detailed multiple findings at an Anglo-Saxon cemetery near the market town of Wendover, Buckinghamshire.
They include a skeleton with a spear attached to its back, as well as beads, brooches, buckles, knives and spearheads.
HS2 DIG UNEARTHS ROMAN MARKET TOWN IN NORTHAMPTONSHIRE
Archaeologists working on HS2 have shed light on how an Iron Age village in Northamptonshire turned into a wealthy, bustling Roman trading town nearly 2,000 years ago.
Incredible finds made while excavating the site near the village of Chipping Warden – known as the Blackgrounds after the black soil was found there – include a cremation jar, toy pieces, handcuffs, a snake head pin, and more than 300 Roman coins.
Evidence suggests that the settlement was founded around 400 BC when it consisted of more than 30 roundabouts, but it expanded greatly during Roman times around AD 300-400, with new stone buildings and roads.
A team of about 80 archaeologists working on the HS2 high-speed rail project have spent 12 months excavating the Blackgrounds, one of more than 100 sites examined between London and Birmingham since 2018.
Experts say the remains of a Roman trading city represent “one of the most important archaeological sites” discovered during the controversial £100 billion train line project.