Anglo Saxon pendant found at a grave in Windfarthing, Norfolk.
© The British Museum
The Anglo Saxon pendant found at a grave in Windfarthing, Norfolk.
The discovery of an "exquisite" gold pendant by a student metal detectorist is being credited with rewriting the understanding of Anglo-Saxon history.

Thomas Lucking is in line for a £145,000 pay-out after unearthing an aristocratic burial site in a part of Norfolk overlooked by generations of archaeologists because of its poor soil.

The find of the female skeleton wearing a pendant of gold imported from Sri Lanka and coins bearing the marks of a continental king is prompting a fundamental reassessment of the seats of power in Anglo Saxon England.

A gold cross among the treasure counts as one of the earliest "potent" symbols of Christianity ever found.

The Norwich Castle Museum is now raising the £145,000 needed to buy the trove, dubbed the Winfarthing Woman, whose craftsmanship is the "equal" of the famous Staffordshire Hoard, according to Senior Curator Dr Tim Pestell.

Anglo Saxon pendant Norfolk
© John Fulcher
The pendant in the soil. It has now been valued at £145,000.
"It's an exceptionally rich find and completely rewrites our understanding of Anglo Saxon history in East Anglia," he told The Daily Telegraph.

"It shows that the person buried in this grave was of the very highest status, certainly aristocratic and quite possibly royal."

Mr Lucking found the site in 2015, aged 23, and now works as a full-time archeologist.

He said his share of the eventual price would most likely go towards a deposit on his first house.

Excavations of the Anglo Saxon grave in Winfarthing archaeology
© John Rainer
Excavations of the Anglo Saxon grave in Winfarthing.
"We could hear this large signal. We knew there was something large but couldn't predict it would be like that," he of the discovery. When it came out the atmosphere changed."

One of the large pendants, found lower down on the skeleton's chest, was made of gold and inlaid with hundreds of tiny garnets and in itself is valued at £140,000.

The Wayfarthing Woman was highlighted yesterday in the annual report of the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) as an example of best practice by amateur metal detectorists.

In 2016 a record 1,120 finds of treasure were reported by the public, in addition to a further 82,000 archaeological finds.