News & Views

Unburied treasure

Selling for £1,050 in our auction, this mediaeval candlestick was a remarkable find.


Selling for £1,050 in our 26th October 2019 auction, this mediaeval candlestick would have been just another everyday object in it’s time - a household necessity amongst the owner’s possessions.

However, like many very old objects, its very survival gives it a unique fascination, but there’s also something of a remarkable story attached. 

The story begins one spring morning during the early 1960s. Though early, a man decides to make the most of the glorious weather and take one of his regular hikes across the pretty Suffolk countryside. 

Making his way along the side of a newly ploughed field, something catches his eye. Amongst the irregular clods of earth and stone debris. The thing is distinct and different, smooth and equal in form. It looks manmade. This in itself isn’t particularly surprising; agricultural fields are places of work after all, parts fall from machines and workers drop or discard items frequently. This object is somehow different though, and the man senses so.

The delicate item, unearthed by a ploughshare after lying hidden for centuries, is of course the candlestick you see here. The finder had friends in the metallurgy industry who carefully removed layers of dirt and corrosion to reveal the details of this simple yet elegant treasure.

The candlestick measures a little over 15cms, is made of brass and incorporates neat turned decoration. Compact and sturdy, it would have been the type used for reading or writing - essentially it is the mediaeval equivalent of a desk lamp. The item's origins, who its former owners were and how it came to be buried in East Anglian farmland must remain secrets.

One thing this little candlestick may tell us though, having lain concealed for so long, is that perhaps even today you don’t need a metal detector to find hidden gems - just a sharp eye and luck on your side!