A 400-YEAR-OLD love token unearthed in a field in Allerton Bywater has been declared treasure trove.
Wakefield Coroner’s Court head how the “unusual” piece was discovered on agriculturual land by an anonymous metal detecting enthusiast last March.
In a statement to the court, coroner’s officer Neville Oughtibridge described the piece as a 17th century gold matrix, engraved with a bleeding heart pierced with an arrow and inscribed with the words ‘Thy Virtue Merits More’.
He said the item, which would have been used to seal letters with wax, was presented to Amy Downes, South and West Yorkshire finds liaison officer with the Portable Antiquities Scheme, who described the piece in her report as an “amatory gift”.
Declaring the find as treasure trove last week, coroner David Hinchliff said: “The heart and arrow is very Valentine’s Day-ish, something you would give someone you had great feelings for. It has been found after all these years and it will ultimately find its way on display.”
To be declared treasure a find has to be more than 300 years old and contain at least ten per cent gold or silver. The seal is currently being held by the British Museum, which will put it through a valuation process and Leeds Museum has expressed an interest in acquiring it.
Janina Parol, assistant treasure registrar for the British Museum, said: “What’s unusual about it is the type of seal it is. The ‘bleeding heart’ is quite a popular kind of design for the time, but what is unusual is it’s got ‘Thy Virtue Merits More’ inscribed.
“You often get this on rings or gifts to someone else and often with very nice inscriptions of love. It’s unusual.”