Pendant linked to Henry VIII among hundreds of new finds at British Museum

A pendant that has been missing for 500 years was found by a metal detectorist who only took up the hobby six months ago, Mark McQuillan reports.

A golden pendant linked to Henry VIII and his first wife Katherine of Aragon has been hailed as a “thrilling” find after the British Museum unveiled the heart-shaped discovery.

Attached to a 75-link gold chain via an enamelled ‘hand’, the front of the pendant is decorated with a red and white Tudor rose entwined with a pomegranate bush, the symbols of Henry and Katherine.

At the base of this bush are the inscriptions TOVS and IORS, a pun on toujours, the French words for always.

King Henry separated the Church of England from the Roman Catholic Church to divorce Katherine in 1533 – roughly 12 years after the pendant was believed to be made.

The pendant was linked to a chain via a small 'hand.' Credit: PA

The back shows the letters H and K - for Henry and Katherine - linked by a ribbon and again underscored with TOVS and IORS.

Charlie Clarke came across the pendant and the chief executive of Historic England, which supported work at the site of the discovery in Warwickshire, hailed the find.

“This beautiful pendant is a thrilling discovery giving us a tangible connection to Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon and enriches our understanding of the Royal Court at the time,” Duncan Wilson said.

“I'm delighted that Historic England was able to support with archaeological investigations of the site.”

The letters H and K on the back. Credit: PA

The pendant was one of 1,085 treasures found in 2021, according to the Portable Antiquities Scheme report by the British Museum, and 45,581 archaeological finds.

Historic England says the object appeared to be made “rapidly” and “may have been used as a prize or worn by people participating in an event.”

The design of the pendant is like that used on horse bards at a joust in Greenwich in 1521, the organisation added.

The pendant is now being showcased at the British Museum.

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