Relatives of the gravedigger who discovered the ‘Pentney Hoard’ 40 years ago have seen pieces of the discovery for the first time.
William King, who was known as Geoffrey, found the six Anglo-Saxon brooches while working at Pentney churchyard in 1977.
At the time he thought they were horse brasses and virtually worthless.
But the true £135,000 value of the treasure – around £600,000 in today’s money – was not realised until three years later.
Members of Mr King’s family have had an even longer wait, though, to see their relative’s incredible find in the physical form.
Four relatives of Mr King, who died several years ago, enjoyed a special visit to Lynn Museum on Wednesday to see two of the brooches which are on display during their current loan from the British Museum.
His niece, Judy Cross, 72, from Spalding, said she had read about the exhibition in the Lynn News and told her family so she could organise a visit.
She said: “Today has been very emotional, I’ve been so excited. I can’t tell you the feeling of seeing them come to Lynn – this is very special to us. It’s a piece of history, and to be part of that history is absolutely wonderful, and it has brought the family together.”
Mr King’s nephew Paul Smith, 76, from Hingham, said: “It’s so lovely to come and see the brooches, I’ve heard so much about them over the years – we all talk about it in the family. It’s very exciting to think someone in the family dug them up.”
The gravedigger’s brother Eric King, 94, from Hingham, also recalled the find.
He said: “When he came home he said: ‘Have you heard about my find?’ And he told me all about it, but didn’t think they were worth much.
“But he later found out they were worth £135,000 and he gave £25,000 to Pentney Church of St Mary Magdalene.
“Today has been lovely – absolutely marvellous.”
The brooches are due to be on display at Lynn Museum until February 25, but it is hoped they could remain there for longer.
Museum curator Oliver Bone said: “We are hoping to extend the stay, but for now they will be here until the end of the month.
“It has been a brilliant day, it’s lovely to have the family members come as it’s an important part of their personal family history.
“It’s connected with this important national and international archaeological story, and the personal dimension to it is fantastic.
“To be able to show these brooches locally to where they were found to their children and grandchildren is wonderful.”
Curator of archaeology Dr Tim Pestell will be at the museum on Wednesday, February 8 to give a talk on the brooches from 2.30pm to 3.30pm.