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The centrepiece jewel of Henry VIII's lost crown, buried under a tree 400 years after it went missing, was recently discovered by a metal detectorist. 

Kevin Duckett made the unbelievable discovery while walking through a field near Market Harborough in Northamptonshire. 

At first, the 49-year-old did not see the resemblance. Duckett initially thought the jewel was some crumpled tin foil from the wrapping of a Mr Kipling cake. "It was lodged in the side of a hole just a few inches down. I carefully removed it and knew by its colour and weight that it was solid gold."

For years, historians feared that the jewel was lost forever when Oliver Cromwell ordered the crown to be melted down and sold as coins after abolishing the monarchy in 1649 and beheaded Charles I. The 344 precious stones in the royal crown were valued by the then Parliament at £1,100. Each stone was sold individually.  

Duckett took the lump of gold home and cleaned it. "I was holding what appeared to be a heavy solid gold and enameled figurine," he said. After cleaning the piece, he was convinced that the figurine was Henry VI after noticing the letters 'SH' inscribed on the base. 

The two-and-a-half inch jewel has been relocated to the British Museum. The piece could be worth up to £2million today.

The figurine featured five fleurs-de-lys, a stylised lily linked to royalty. It originally had three figures of Christ, one of St George and one of the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus. However, King Henry VIII replaced the figures of Christ with three saint kings of England, St Edmund, Edward the Confessor and Henry VI. 

After Charles fled from Oliver Cromwell after the Battle of Naseby in 1645, they travelled past the spot where Mr Duckett found the jewel. Scientists believe that the jewel may have fallen from the crown in Charles's haste or that he buried the piece himself.  

A spokesperson at the British Museum commented; "As required by the Treasure process, a British Museum expert has examined the piece and identified it as dating from the late Middle Ages. It is a gold enamelled figure showing Henry VI as a saint, and appears to have been used as a badge, or attached by means of the loop on its reverse, to another object. We are delighted this object was declared Treasure at the Coroner’s inquest, and the British Museum hopes to acquire it in due course through the Treasure process, which will make it available to public and scholars to study in perpetuity."

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