Could a pot found in Fens 40 years ago be part of King John’s treasure?
Through the centuries it has been a legend every bit as murky as the muddy waters of the Wash.
Now, 800 years on, could we really be closer to solving one of Britain’s greatest unsolved mysteries – the whereabouts of the treasure lost by King John while crossing the Fens in 1216?
A new tantalising clue has been unearthed, and with it a saga worthy of a medieval chronicle.
Two workmen believe they may have come across the missing haul while carrying out excavation work as part of an engineering project during the 1970s.
At the time, they were only able to recover one pot, before the rest of it was covered over by colleagues.
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Now, four decades later, the pair – Lew Gray and Alan Rowe – remain convinced of the authenticity of their find and are to hand it over to a Norfolk museum to have it dated and identified. They hope others will get involved in the project, if the test results are positive.
Mr Gray, 77, from Downham Market said: “I remember the day we found this pot very well. I said to Alan when he picked me up for work that morning ‘We’re going to find King John’s treasure today, Alan’. The strange thing is, the more I think about it, I really think we may have come across the king’s carts from the baggage train.
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“We went our separate ways after the job finished, and I was thinking about our find and everything came back to me. I phoned Alan and asked what happened to that old pot – and he found it in his garage.”
He added: “It would be wonderful to get archaeologists back to the site to see if we really had come across something. The legend behind the treasure and where we found it match up.”
Mr Gray and Mr Rowe, 67, who lives in Shouldham, were part of a team building a sewerage network when they came across the spot. They were using specialist equipment to dig a deep hole on land near West Walton and heard a loud crunch around 18ft down.
Water shot into the air and the workmen thought they had hit a bog oak. But they also found pieces of pottery, including the pot which is being identified. Mr Rowe said: “All sorts of pieces were laying about but we had to move on from that site so other guys could come in and sort out the problem. When we went back, it had been cleared up.”