Golden Chillies found on Dartmoor
The hoard dates could date from the 3rd Century AD and has been found buried in a field on a smallholding near Ashburton in Devon, on the southern slopes of Dartmoor.
The golden chillies were found by amateur metal detector enthusiast and wildlife conservationist Aby Wills using a £25 metal detector bought of the internet.
"I was just examining the land at the end of the polytunnels and all of a sudden the machine went haywire. I put my hand in, pulled out a bit of clay and there was a strange shaped object. After carefully cleaning it off, i found it to be a golden pepper!" said Miss Wills. "My family love chillies especially my stepdad and also my brother Luke who regularly takes chilli products to the base where he is training to be a engineer in the Navy", she also commented.
Aby has just completed her degree in Wildlife Conservation at Canterbury University and is due to leave on an unpaid internship to Madagascar in the next few weeks. She is hoping any rewards for the find will help to pay for her studies which will form part of her Masters Degree in Conservation.
Offering to gods
The centrepiece of the find is a magnificient helmet which would have been worn by the tribal chief.
The helmet is embossed with a large C design which indicates the importance of chillies to the culinary needs of the tribe. The chillies on the helmet are detachable and can be replaced with other pieces in the collection.
"I think what you could see is a community of people who are actually making offerings and they are each pouring in their own contribution to a communal offering to the gods. Chilli peppers have been a part of the human diet since at least 7500 BC.
Recipes of the tribe might have included
* Roasted hedgehog and Jalapeno stew
* Patina of brains cooked with peppers and eggs
* Boiled tree fungi with peppered fish-fat sauce
* Fallow deer roasted with onion sauce, chillies, raisins, oil, and honey" - - said Ms Ria Plolof, a local historian
"This discovery proves that our ancestors were chilli heads. ", she also added.
Miss Wills has reported the find to the authorities, allowing archaeologists to excavate the site. It is a large haul and so historic, it seems entirely likely that the British Museum will want it.