by Isis Davis-Marks/Smithsonianmag.com
In April, amateur metal detectorist Jamie Harcourt unearthed a gold and garnet sword pyramid—a decorative fitting likely used to help keep weapons sheathed—that may have belonged to a wealthy lord or early medieval king. Found in the Breckland district of Norfolk, England, the object “bears a striking resemblance” to artifacts found in the nearby Sutton Hoo burial, reports Treasure Hunting magazine.
According to BBC News, the tiny adornment dates to between roughly 560 and 630 C.E., when the area was part of the Kingdom of East Anglia. Sword pyramids usually come in pairs, but this one was found alone, meaning its owner may have misplaced it while “careening around the countryside.”
Helen Geake, a finds liaison officer with the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS), which records archaeological finds made by the British public, tells BBC News that its loss “was like losing one earring—very annoying.”
Shaped like a pyramid with a truncated peak, the artifact’s square base measures less than half an inch on each side, per its PAS object record. The pyramid’s four faces feature two distinct designs, both of which boast inlaid garnets probably imported from India or Sri Lanka.