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£120,000 for chess piece that didn’t move for 1,400 years

AN ANCIENT ‘chess piece’, found in a field by a metal detectorist after lying buried for hundreds of years, has sold for 20 times its estimated worth.

The bronze, 1.75in tall figure (pictured) — which dates back to the seventh century — was valued at £6,000 by experts but went for more than £120,000.

Depicting an armed horse rider, the piece remains in ‘fantastic condition’. The mounted soldier has centre-parted bobbed hair, large pellet eyes and a moustache.

‘It clearly shows us how the seventh century Anglo-Saxon soldiers would have looked and dressed,’ said Dr Rafaelle D’Amarto, of TimeLine Auctions. ‘I would say it would likely have been used as a game piece similar to the chess figures we have today. It is also possible it would have been used tactically to plan out battles.’

The figure, dug up near Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, was registered by the finder with the government’s Portable Antiquities Scheme.

When experts had finished studying the discovery, it was put up for sale at TimeLine Auctions, in Mayfair, London, where it created a bidding war. The money paid by an unknown collector will be split between the detectorist and the landowner.

Dr D’Amarto, who is from Italy, said the figure had captured the imagination of collectors. ‘This is a historically important piece and we have never found another quite like it,’ he added. ‘In my country it is illegal to discover things in this way because the authorities think items will not be properly registered. Here, however, it is very common and a great way of discovering important items from centuries ago.’