When it comes to uncovering ancient artifacts, discoveries of gold are uniquely special because they can be used to find out about an ancient culture’s greed and vanity. An example of the former would be the discovery of a Nazi train containing gold. This shows that the Nazis accumulated gold as a means of building their wealth for power. As for an example of the latter, gold jewelry in Bulgaria revealed that ancient indigenous people living 6,600 years ago took stock in how they looked and what they wore.
Recently, there was a discovery of Tudor gold that showed off the vanity of the people living around the Thames in the 16th Century. Upon further study, archaeologists now believe said gold pieces were part of a hat worn by a wealthy socialite at the time.
The small treasure hoard of Tudor gold was discovered by treasure hunters, known as mudlarks, searching the banks of the Thames, as reported by Daily Mail. It contained numerous pieces of delicately-crafted beads, studs, and aglets which would have been used to adorn hats and garments to display social status.
More details were provided upon further research. All the Tudor gold from the small treasure hoard are dated back to the early 16th Century. Kate Sumnall, an archaeologist who is based at the Museum of London, also believes the Tudor gold’s intricate style in design and relative closeness in age show that it may actually be part of one article of clothing. She believes they are part of a hat worn by a wealthy socialite.
“To find them from just one area suggests a lost ornate hat or other item of clothing. The fabric has not survived and all that remains are these gold decorative elements that hint at the fashion of the time”
Kate Sumnall believes the hat with the Tudor gold adornments may have ended up in the Thames by accident. During the 16th Century, the method of crossing the Thames was by myriad ferry boats. The hat, possibly worn by a wealthy socialite, probably lost it it due to a strong gust of wind.
The above scenario is a hypothesized theory, but given Kate Sumnall’s expertise and background, such a scenario is quite possible. Nevertheless, the small treasure hoard of Tudor gold joins a collection of other artifacts also discovered in the Thames mud over the past couple of years, as reported by The Guardian. Other pieces historically show they actually served a practical purpose as garment fasteners along with just being a symbol of status. The Tudor gold pieces, however, most likely fastened garments of velvet and furs.
Kate Sumnall is also a finds officer. She records the Tudor gold along with less valuable artifacts discovered by the mudlarks under the portable antiques scheme. Yet, the Tudor gold is of high importance because it is very rare to discover a decent number of artifacts located in just one area of the Thames.
“These artifacts have been reported to me one at a time over the last couple of years. Individually they are all wonderful finds but as a group they are even more important.”
Once the Tudor gold pieces have been through a treasure inquest and valued, the Museum of London hopes to acquire them all. They will most likely be put on display for future generations to admire, possibly sparking a sense of awe for our archaeological past.
[Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images]