13th century seal found by George, 10, to go to auction

George Henderson with his find, a priory seal matrix dating back to the 13th century

George Henderson with his find, a priory seal matrix dating back to the 13th century - Credit: Hansons Auctioneers

A 10-year-old boy who discovered a 13th-century seal with his metal detector 10 minutes into a dig could see his find fetch up to £6,000 at auction.

George Henderson, 10, was metal detecting with his dad Paul in Woodbridge while he came across a medieval priory seal matrix dating back 800 years. 

George had gone with his dad to a charity dig to raise money for the Air Ambulance in Woodbridge last November. 

Within 10 minutes of the event, buried around five inches in the ground, George found an important oval-shaped seal dating back to the early 13th century. 

The seal’s Latin inscription translates to: ‘Seal of the Priory and Convent of Butley, of Adam, Canon Regular.’ 

The seal of Butley Priory, the same found by 10-year-old George.

The seal of Butley Priory, the same found by 10-year-old George. - Credit: Hansons Auctioneers

The artifact is connected to Butley Priory, a religious house for canons founded near Woodbridge in 1171. Adam served as its prior from 1219 to 1235 which makes the object around 800 years old. 

Due to its rarity and historical significance, the copper-alloy object will be offered in Hansons Auctioneers’ Historica sale on March 24 with a guide price of between £4,000 and £6,000. 

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The proceeds will be shared between the lucky finder and the farmer whose land it was discovered on. 

Paul, 45, who has been metal detecting for 20 years, said: “The seal’s historical importance rather than value is what’s important to both me and George. It’s the most exciting find either of us have ever made. 

“George has been metal detecting on and off since the age of five but he doesn’t always come out with me. He’s found one or two interesting things over the years. 

“He knew the seal was special when he dug it up but he didn’t know what it was. I did. I knew it was a medieval seal matrix. 

“George was laid back about it at first but, as the day wore on, people kept asking to look at it and he got more excited. 

Speaking of his find, 10-year-old George said: “I’m happy I discovered it.” 

Renowned metal detectorist Adam Staples said: “This is an exceptional find for any metal detectorist to make but to discover something like this when you’re only 10 is astounding.”