Is this a jewel from Henry VIII's missing crown?

  • Watch a video report on the discovery by Liz Summers

A metal detectorist who found a gold figurine in a field in Northamptonshire believes it could be from Henry VIII's lost crown.

Kevin Duckett made the discovery in Little Oxendon in 2017 but after years of research he is now convinced that it once formed part of the Tudor king's crown.

Mr Duckett found the object, depicting Henry VI as a saint, next to a pond within 30 minutes of searching the field in the medieval village. He said he knew straight away that it was something very special.

Kevin Duckett Credit: ITV News Anglia

Kevin Duckett said: "Well, gold is always exciting... but when you see old gold it's different, it's 24-carat and you know straight away that it's the real deal."

Mr Duckett's research led him to Hampton Court Palace where there is a replica of Henry VIII's crown on display. It features rubies, sapphires, emeralds, diamonds and pearls alongside miniature sculptures of royal saints, plus one of the Virgin and Child.

Replica of Henry VIII's crown Credit: Historic Royal Palaces

The history of Henry VIII's crown - Historic Royal Palaces

  • Made for either Henry VII or Henry VIII, the original crown was worn by Henry VIII at Hampton Court, particularly on the feast of Epiphany on 6 January.

  • Henry would process to the Chapel Royal in full regalia to offer gold, frankincense and myrrh, celebrating the visit of the Three Kings to the newborn Jesus. The crown was later used at the coronations of each of Henry VIII's children.

  • As a potent symbol of power and religious authority, the original crown was melted down at the Tower of London in 1649 on the orders of Oliver Cromwell, following the abolition of the monarchy.

A miniature sculpture featured on a replica of Henry VIII's crown Credit: Historic Royal Palaces

Historian and Charles I biographer, Leanda de Lisle, believes elements of the crown, including the miniature sculptures, could have been removed before it was melted down. This may explain why the gold figurine ended up in a field in Little Oxendon.

Leanda de Lisle said: "It was found near the flight path of the Battle of Naseby where Charles I was defeated by Roundhead forces and this piece could have got lost in the chaos of the aftermath of the battle."

A spokesperson for the British Museum said: “As required by the Treasure process the British Museum expert has examined the piece and identified it as dating from the late Middle Ages. It is a gold enamelled figure showing Henry VI as a saint and appears to have been used as a badge, or attached by means of the loop on its reverse, to another object.”

Kevin Duckett searching for hidden treasure Credit: ITV News Anglia

If the gold figurine turns out to be from Henry VIII's crown, it could be worth millions of pounds. Mr Duckett, who has been metal detecting for more than 30 years, has no doubt in his mind that it is 'the real deal'.

Kevin Duckett said: "I've got no doubt, I'm pretty confident... it's of national importance. It will be one of the only things that survived that belonged to Henry VIII and then of course it belonged to every monarch after Henry VIII right up until Cromwell... There is a mountain of research yet to be done but it's exciting."

King Henry VIII Credit: Historic Royal Palaces

Lucy Worsley, Chief Curator at Historic Royal Palaces, said: "It’s great news that after centuries of subterranean slumber this little golden figure has been revealed once more, and it’s tantalising to imagine its true history."

The British Museum said the object has just passed stage one of 'The Treasure Process' and may require further research. Mr Duckett's search for answers continues.