A metal detectorist has found the centrepiece jewel of Henry VIII’s lost crown buried under a tree 400 years after it went missing.
Kevin Duckett, 49, made the startling discovery while walking through a field near Market Harborough in Northamptonshire.
The two-and-a-half inch jewel, which could be worth up to £2million, is now at the British Museum.
Mr Duckett said he first thought the jewel was some crumpled tin foil from the wrapping of a Mr Kipling cake.
He told The Sun: ‘It was lodged in the side of a hole just a few inches down. I carefully removed it and knew by its colour and weight that it was solid gold.’
Kevin Duckett, 49, made the startling discovery while walking through a field near Market Harborough in Northamptonshire
Historians have feared the jewel was lost forever when Oliver Cromwell ordered the crown to be melted down and sold as coins after he abolished the monarchy in 1649 and beheaded Charles I.
The 344 precious stones encrusted on the crown, valued by the then Parliament at £1,100, were sold individually.
Mr Duckett, who lives in Fleckney, Leicestershire, took the lump of gold, which also appeared to have an enamel figure on it, home and cleaned it.
He became convinced that the figure was Henry VI after he saw SH inscribed on the base.
The two-and-a-half inch jewel, which could be worth up to £2million, is now at the British Museum
Mr Duckett said he first thought the jewel was some crumpled tin foil from the wrapping of a Mr Kipling cake
The figurine featured five fleur-de-lys – a stylised lily linked to royalty – originally had three figures of Christ, one of St George and one of the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus.
But Henry VIII removed the figures of Christ and replaced them with three saint kings of England – St Edmund, Edward the Confessor and Henry VI.
And the crown was used at the coronation of Henry’s son Charles I.
When he fled from Oliver Cromwell after the Battle of Naseby in 1645 they travelled past the spot where Mr Duckett found the jewel.
Experts believe it may have fallen from the crown in Charles’s haste or that he decided to bury it.
If the British Museum verify the jewel’s authenticity Mr Duckett will be forced to sell it to them at a price set by an independent board.
King Henry VIII: The monarch who married six times and broke from Rome, changing the course of England’s cultural history
Henry VIII (June 28, 1491 – January 28, 1547) was the domineering King of England from 1509 until his death in 1547.
He infamously had six wives, two of whom he beheaded.
He broke with the Catholic Church in Rome over his efforts to have his first marriage, to Catherine of Aragon, annulled so he could marry Anne Boleyn, who did become his second wife.
Henry VIII (June 28, 1491 – January 28, 1547) was the domineering King of England from 1509 until his death in 1547
The move – known as the Reformation – established him as the supreme head of the Church of England and saw him ex-communicated by the Pope in Rome.
His subsequent dissolution of Britain’s convents and monasteries changes the course of the country’s cultural history.
Under him, England’s navy became fiercely imposing, growing from a few small ships to more than 50.
Domestically, he was at times tyrannical – using charges of tyranny and heresy to stamp down on those he considered to be dissenters.
Among those who fell foul of him was his chief minister Thomas Cromwell, who ended up being beheaded.
Also beheaded was his second wife Anne Boleyn and his fifth wife Catherine Howard.
His predecessors had tried and failed to conquer France, and even Henry himself mounted two expensive, yet unsuccessful attempts.
He was known to self-medicate, even going as far as making his own medicines.
A record on a prescription for ulcer treatment in the British Museum reads: ‘An Oyntment devised by the kinges Majesty made at Westminster, and devised at Grenwich to take away inflammations and to cease payne and heale ulcers called gray plaster’.
The king was also a musician and composer, owning 78 flutes, 78 recorders, five bagpipes, and has since had his songs covered by Jethro Tull.
He died while heavily in debt, after having such a lavish lifestyle that he spent far more than taxes would earn him.
He possessed the largest tapestry collection ever documented, and 6,500 pistols.
While most portraits show him as a slight man, he was in later life very large, with one observer calling him ‘an absolute monster’.
He was succeeded by his son Edward VI.