Three-year-old James Hyatt struck gold on his very first treasure hunting expedition—an extraordinary find that surpassed all expectations. Hidden beneath the earth’s surface awaited a 16th-century locket, renowned for its portrayal of the Queen of Heaven and Earth. The metal detector emitted a series of beeps, alerting James and his father, Jason Hyatt, to the astonishing discovery that lay before them. Little did they know that they were about to unearth a priceless Virgin Mary pendant, estimated to be valued at a staggering $4 million. Recalling the remarkable moment, Jason Hyatt recounted the experience to the BBC, stating, “All of a sudden, we received a strong buzz from the metal detector. We dug diligently, penetrating the ground by six to eight inches, until, unexpectedly, a glimmer of gold emerged. Carefully, I cleared the soil around it and behold, there it was.”
Accompanied by James’ grandfather, the trio had embarked on their metal detecting adventure in Hockley, Essex, scouring a vast field. Remarkably, James had only been using the device for a matter of minutes before it began emitting its distinct beeping sound. Upon unearthing the pendant, they found it nestled approximately eight inches beneath the surface, concealed within the mud. Expressing his excitement, James joyfully shared, “Then we delved into the muddy terrain. Gold lay there, waiting for us. We didn’t possess a treasure map—those are reserved for pirates alone,” as he shared with the Daily Mail.
The pendant, measuring about an inch in length and comprised of 73 percent gold, is believed to be a reliquary—an ornate container designed to safeguard religious relics, such as fragments associated with revered figures. It boasts a sliding back panel that reveals a cavity intended for holding such sacred artifacts. The British Museum has suggested that the reliquary might have once contained a fragment of the true cross. Its design showcases an image of a woman initially believed to be the Virgin Mary; however, the museum contends that it could alternatively represent Saint Helena. This woman, depicted standing on a checkered floor, is adorned with a radiant halo and shown supporting a cross. The diamond-shaped pendant also bears inscriptions of the names IASPAR, MELCIOR, and BALTASAR—commonly associated with the Magi, the wise men or three kings who followed a guiding star to worship the newborn savior, Jesus Christ.
Moreover, the back of the pendant exhibits a heart-shaped symbol with an incision, accompanied by four teardrop-shaped symbols. These teardrops, depicted as eyes, are widely believed to symbolize the five holy wounds of Jesus Christ—a poignant representation intertwined with medieval piety. Experts in the field have dated the locket to the era of Henry VIII, suggesting that it could have once belonged to a member of the royal family.
The pendant was deemed a treasure trove during the inquest, necessitating its sale to a museum. Jason expressed that the proceeds from the sale would be divided with the landowner. Reflecting on the momentous discovery, Jason shared, “James was brimming with excitement upon realizing that he had unearthed genuine treasure. It left me astounded. In my fifteen years of pursuing this hobby, I had never come across anything quite like it. If we receive any funds, it will be allocated for the benefit of our children.”
Evidently, James possesses an extraordinary knack for stumbling upon items of value. Jason humorously remarked, “My son seems to possess an uncanny streak of luck. Even during a visit to the doctor, he manages to reach into the crevices of the sofa and retrieve a ten-pound note.”