Local Medieval Treasure donated to Tamworth Castle

An amazing post-Medieval decorative dress hook has been donated to Tamworth Castle by a local Dosthill metal detectorist, John Willetts.

History enthusiast Mr Willetts made an exceptional discovery of a silver-gilt dress hook in the Shenstone area, not far from Tamworth in early 2016. Excited by his find, he contacted the Finds Liaison Officer of Worcestershire and Warwickshire, Angie Bolton, who is based at Birmingham Museums Trust and was able to put the hook through an assessment where it was declared Treasure by a coroner.

The dress hook is a small and very decorative item that would have been used during the Medieval and Tudor period as a clothing accessory to fasten outer garments or to drape up skirts. Made of base metal or precious silver-gilt, dress hooks would be highly important and valuable and even mentioned in inventories and wills.

It is dated as post-Medieval and is unusually complete without sustaining damage often found where the land has been ploughed.

Mr Willetts said: “I was very excited to discover this rare item and to learn it is Treasure. I am very interested in history and love to explore the local and surrounding Tamworth area with my detector.

“I strongly believe that history and historical finds should be kept locally and I am more than happy to donate this to Tamworth Castle to add to the castle’s living history programme and collections”

Tamworth Castle is well accustomed to having buried treasure within its historic walls with items from the largest Anglo-Saxon gold hoard ever found – the Staffordshire Hoard - on display.  This new treasure will be displayed in a separate case within one of the castle rooms.

Mr Willetts was greeted by Teresa Gilmore; also a Finds Liaison Officer for Birmingham and the Portable Antiquities Scheme, last week at Tamworth Castle; where the dress hook was presented to Sarah Williams, the Collections Officer for the castle.

Councillor Joy Goodall, portfolio holder for Environment and Culture, said: “How wonderful that this local historical piece will be displayed at Tamworth Castle. Mr Willetts and the land owner have very kindly declined their reward to enable the castle to showcase this piece for visitors to see.

“This silver-gilt dress hook forms another part of the significant and important individual finds and local archaeology which are an integral part of Tamworth Castle’s collections, helping to tell the history and story of Tamworth.”

For information on Tamworth Castle opening hours and events visit: www.tamworthcastle.co.uk and information on Treasure can be found on: www.finds.org.uk/treasure