Festive pendant bought for British Museum

  • 22 December 2012

A medieval reliquary engraved with the names of the three Wise Men has been acquired by the British Museum after it was discovered by a four-year-old metal detectorist.

Hockley pendant, 1500–1550 British Museum

Hockley pendant, 1500–1550

Named after the Essex village in which it was discovered, the Hockley pendant is small but perfectly formed. Measuring just over three centimetres from top to bottom, each of the reliquary's six faces is engraved with its own ornate design.

The front shows Saint Helena bearing the cross, while the reverse features the Five Wounds of Christ dripping tears of blood. One of the four sides is engraved with a leaf pattern and, festively, the other three are inscribed with the names of the Wise Men: Casper, Melchior and Balthazar.

Art Fund director Stephen Deuchar said, "We're thrilled to be able to assist the British Museum in adding such a significant treasure to its collection. It is not only a beautifu piece but offers a great insight into an intriguing time in our history."

The pendant was bought for £70,000 with help from a £20,000 Art Fund grant.