British Nurse Discovers a 600-Year-Old Miniature Golden “Bible” Worth Over $130,000 With a Metal Detector


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British nurse and metal detector enthusiast Buffy Bailey struck gold during her latest outing in northern England—literally. While foraging farmland in York with her husband, the 48-year-old unearthed a miniature golden artifact cast in the shape of an open book or Bible. It is believed to be around 600 years old.

“I dug down five inches and it was just there—I still didn't believe it was anything special,” Bailey said. At about a half-inch long, the tiny object is easily overlooked. In spite of its small size, however, the item features incredibly intricate engravings of a man and woman, believed to be the images of Saint Leonard and Saint Margaret, patron saints of childbirth. At the top of the piece is a small hole, indicating that the charm could be used as a pendant or necklace bead. It is made of 22 or 24-carat gold and weighs about 0.2 ounces. “It was so heavy and shiny—just absolutely beautiful,” says Bailey.

King Richard III (1452–1485) used to own land near the location of the object's discovery, leading historians to believe that the artifact could have been owned by a female relative of his. Furthermore, the level of detail in the miniature bible has been compared to another gold pendant found in the area, called the Middleham Jewel. Some believe that these two pieces could have been made by the same anonymous artist in the 15th century. The Yorkshire Museum is currently appraising Bailey's discovery, but it is predicted to be worth at least £100,000 (approximately $134,150).

NHS nurse and metal detector enthusiast Buffy Bailey discovered a miniature gold “Bible” worth over $130,000.

She found the 600-year-old object in Yorkshire, near a property that used to be owned by King Richard III.

Portrait of Richard III

Portrait of Richard III, c. late 16th century (Photo: National Portrait Gallery via Wikimedia Commons, Public domain)

The Yorkshire Museum is currently evaluating the artifact and may decide to purchase it from Bailey. It is believed to be made by the same artist who created the Middleham Jewel (owned by the Yorkshire Museum).

Middleham Jewel

Middleham Jewel, c. 1475–1499 (Photo: Yorkshire Museum via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0)

Yorkshire Museum: Website | Facebook | Instagram

h/t: [BBC, Hyperallergic]

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Margherita Cole

Margherita Cole is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met and illustrator based in Southern California. She holds a BA in Art History with a minor in Studio Art from Wofford College, and an MA in Illustration: Authorial Practice from Falmouth University in the UK. She wrote and illustrated an instructional art book about how to draw cartoons titled 'Cartooning Made Easy: Circle, Triangle, Square' that was published by Walter Foster in 2022.
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