Silver bracelet purchased by Northampton Museum gives insight into Courteenhall’s Roman past

30th Oct 2023

A metal detectorist from Northampton has found a very rare Roman silver bracelet on land at Courteenhall.

Phil Craddock, who has been a metal detectorist for over 30 years, unearthed the bracelet in a few inches of soil in a field on the Estate.

The bracelet was declared treasure and has been claimed by Northampton Museum & Art Gallery in Guildhall Road, Northampton.

The Roman bracelet is just one of a number of historic finds that have been discovered by metal detectorists on the Estate over the years.

Phil and his fellow detectorists Phil Douglas and Steve Allen have also found an 800-year-old gold ring, a Stone Age axe, a Bronze Age spear tip, Medieval buckles, coins dating back to 20AD, Elizabethan coins and, earlier this year, a hand grenade from World War One in perfect condition which members of the Army’s explosive ordnance disposal team made safe.

Phil, 52, a train driver for London Northwestern Railway, said: “I’ve found numerous items over the years that give a fantastic overview of Courteenhall Estate’s historic past from the early Celtic and Roman periods through to the present day.

“Finding the silver bracelet was a special moment. When you wipe away the soil and realise that you’ve found something that hasn’t been seen for thousands of years it’s a fantastic feeling.

“I drive past the Estate on my train and I often spot fields I want to explore next. It’s vital to get permission and the team at Courteenhall Estate have been very generous allowing me and other metal detectorists onto the Estate.

“There are records showing a Roman site on the land, but we have discovered two more, one which we think might have been a marketplace trading water for small coins and another we believe was a substantial settlement.

“We’ve found old tracks too and, last year, unearthed lots of oyster shells in what we think is a Roman dump near the occupation site. The Romans were particularly fond of shellfish, especially oysters, and they would have been highly prized. They probably transported from the coast in pots of seawater.

“Every time we go out, we build up a little bit more of a picture of life on the Estate over the past 2,000 years. It’s all about layers of history.

“Metal detecting has soared in popularity in recent years, helped by television programmes such as the BBC’s Detectorists starring Mackenzie Crook and Toby Jones.

“I fell in love with it as a hobby 30 years ago after seeing a TV programme about it. It really fires up your imagination as you never know what you’re going to find. There’s something special about being out in the fresh air exploring a field with the possibility of discovering history.

“I’d love to find a Celtic gold coin one day – that’s absolutely on my bucket list. Until then, I’m really proud that the Roman silver bracelet I found will forever be linked to Courteenhall Estate.”


Dr Johnny Wake, Managing Partner at Courteenhall, said: “It’s fascinating to see what the metal detectorists have discovered on the Estate. Each of their finds give an incredible historical insight into life in Northamptonshire across many, many centuries.”

Johnny’s family has been in South Northamptonshire since the 13th century and the family has been farming at Courteenhall for over 350 years.

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