As many incredible discoveries have been made by clever archaeologists, there are countless more waiting below the surface of the earth. Experts want to be the ones that uncover all the planet’s mysteries, but they aren’t always so lucky.

Recently, the person who uncovered an extremely important site full of never before seen artifacts was not an archaeologist at all. One amateur treasure hunter with a metal detector is responsible for what is being described as an artifact with no parallel.

The Kingdom of England was founded in 927 AD, and its surrounding countries, including Wales, Ireland, and Scotland, have similar timelines, give or take a couple of hundred years. This means they have a ton of history to work with.

Unlike the United States, where we consider something from the 1700s ancient history, the framework in the United Kingdom allows experts to dive even further into the past as compared to younger countries. Discoveries from unfathomable times continue to be uncovered.

Mary Klote

Even considering the last decade alone, archaeologists have made many landmark discoveries like the remains of the first rabbit in England, or a London playhouse dating back to the 1500s. These types of findings are the ultimate thrill for experts.

Heritage Daily

When archaeologists strap on their tool belt every morning and pour themselves a cup of joe on the way to the dig site, they hope to have an Indiana Jones moment and find something epic. More often than not, nothing monumental comes of their digs.

Lucasfilm

Pivotal discoveries can be few and far between, but when it does happen it’s like Michael Jordan in game six. Or Thomas Edison when the light bulb turned on for the first time. Some artifacts make a huge impact on our understanding of human history.

Kirthmon Dozier

A discovery like this was recently made in the United Kingdom, and it’s unlocking previously unknown details about the Iron Age. This era consists of the years between 1200 B.C. and 600 B.C. The findings would have ancient citizens clanking their wine goblets in excitement.

Archaeologists in Yorkshire were alerted to a dig site when a local metal detector enthusiast, Mike Smith, uncovered some metal items that looked remarkably old. Initially, experts were skeptical because nothing like this was ever discovered in Wales before.

Mike Smith

However, Smith knew he was onto something stating, “It was just instinct.” When the team of archaeologists arrived at the site and began to dig below the surface, they were left with their jaws hanging open.

Mike Smith

At first they noted what seemed to be the remains of a chariot. This, while amazing, is not the first time an ancient chariot has been discovered. As they continued to dig, the full picture of what lurked beneath the surface began to show.

Mike Smith

Not only was it a an Iron Age chariot, but it was a burial site, which included a fallen warrior and the skeletal remains of his two horses. They were laid out in a dramatic fashion, as if about to take flight.

Alex Wood

It’s believed that the horses were positioned to pull the warrior into the afterlife. A couple dozen chariots from this time have been uncovered in grave-sites before, but never with the horses still attached. But there was something else that made this site special.

In addition to the warrior and his noble steeds, a shield was also in the chariot. The battle torn individual was positioned on top of the shield as his final resting place for the last many thousand years, undisturbed until recently.

Map Archaeological Practice

The 30-inch shield is round and ornate and has a peculiar scalloped edge. Paula Ware of MAP Archaeological Practice stated of the object, “It’s a previously unknown design feature that is not comparable to any other Iron Age finds across Europe.”

MAP Archaeological Practice

It was believed that items being included at a burial site were purely ceremonial. However, this particular shield had a puncture mark on its surface. This shifted the perspective of experts, as they now believe it was involved in battle. This reenactment is in a Celtic museum.

Wolfgang Sauber

A variable that has yet to be understood is the identity of the fallen warrior. One thing is for sure, the man was probably pretty important and well-liked. He was surrounded by the remains of six pigs, interpreted as an offering.

Warner Bros

While excavating the entirety of the burial site, fragments of another shield were found as well. The warrior was in possession of two brooches. One was bronze and the other was red with a dragonfly design.

Mike Smith

Yes, the pomp and circumstance of this burial is definitely a bit much by today’s standards. But when contrasted with Egyptian Pharaohs and their pyramids, or the Celtic prince who was buried with gold-tipped drinking vessels, our anonymous warrior seems downright practical.

Laurel Glassman

For now, the artifacts have been dusted off and resurrected from centuries of underground preservation and are being studied by scientists at the National Museum of Wales. Over all, the discovery is a home run for researchers, archaeologists and novice enthusiasts everywhere.

As the artifacts are studied, we will continue to gain valuable insight about the Iron Age, including the possibility of a previously unknown Iron Age settlement near the warrior’s grave site. Smith’s detector seems to be alerting for more below the surface.

Until the excavation is complete, we may not know the full significance. Dr Melanie Giles of the University of Manchester seems sure of its gravity, calling it, “the most important British Celtic art object of the millennium.” All thanks to a curious amateur.

Mike Smith

The United Kingdom is home to some impressive historical artifacts, but they seem to pale in comparison to Italian artifacts left behind from the Roman Empire. Recently, researchers have observed that the Romans weren’t the only ones building on Italian soil.

Before they were overshadowed by the Roman empire, the Greeks built colonies on the Italian Mediterranean coast for hundreds of years. In the 8th century B.C., they picked an idyllic ocean-side spot for their first home away from home — a city dubbed Cumae.

Flickr

Settlers fleeing the Greek island of Euboea quickly found their new home of Cumae to be a total success. In fact, we can thank the thriving colonists of Cumae for the origins of the Latin alphabet; they developed it from early European letters!

World Bank Photo Collection / Flickr

Unfortunately, as most flourishing cities with an ideal location do, Cumae caught the envious eyes of neighboring foes, and Romans took the city over around 338 BC. Slowly but surely, the dominant Greek culture was flushed out and replaced by Roman customs.

Cumae became the hot spot of the Roman elite, drawing the rich and fancy to bask on its seaside shores. For hundreds of years, the city remained peacefully under Roman control and maintained its bustling status as a developed Roman escape — until 1207.

Flickr

That was the year it finally collapsed, and though it was gone, the footnote of Cumae remained relevant in the minds of archaeologists… until they fell in love with the cities buried by volcanic devastation, Herculaneum and Pompeii.

After that, quiet Cumae became the least popular kid in class, and all the researchers left, leaving the city vulnerable to rampant looting for awhile. Interest in exploring the hidden wonders of the city was renewed in the 20th century, however.

Stripes

It was then — specifically, in 1932 — that explorers discovered an odd, trapezoidal cave, and rumors pegged it as the chamber where a famous prophetess made her predictions.

Alexander Van Loon

The prophetess, Cumaean Sibyl, was far from your average fortune teller. She was one of the most prolific prophetesses in history. Michelangelo depicted her as the largest of the four prophets included in his painting at the Sistine Chapel.

More recently, the College de France’s Jean Pierre Brun and Priscilla Muzi, of the French National Centre for Scientific Research, forged new excavations of a necropolis within the city. A short while of digging later, the crews found what they’d been searching for…

Haaretz

Not far below the surface were hundreds of tombs that were once painstakingly carved into the rocky earth. Many of these crypts were devoid of clues, due to the previous looting, though they did recover human remains and funerary relics.

Haaretz

Testing their findings, archaeologists deduced the tombs dated back to 2nd century B.C., after the Greeks lost control of their colony to the Romans. In all the tombs they’d examined, red and white paint covered the walls, until 2018 when they opened one special chamber.

Haaretz

Decorating the deteriorating walls was an ornate painting. It was a mural, and centuries after the painter put down his or her brush, the images were still clearly visible and ready for appreciation.

Haaretz

Experts worked out that the mural was of a naked servant, holding a silver drinking vessel and vase. Besides the nude figure, several other ancient containers called a situla and a krater were commemorated on the walls.

Haaretz

Based on the different components of the painting, it was confirmed that the mural illustrated a banquet. This conclusion led them to believe other figures — guests of the party, specifically — had once decorated the walls but eroded away over time.

Kids Konnect

Given the craftsmanship and vivid colors used for the tribute, researchers confirmed the crypt had belonged to members of the Roman elite. For them, it was customary for three individuals to share a tomb, and three beds were found inside the space.

Plus, it made sense that images on the wall aired on the edge of adult content because Roman high society had a taste for risque artworks. Plus, nudity was much less taboo in Roman times than in the present day.

DreamWorks / Courtesy Everett Collection

Oddly, the archeologists noted the banquet theme had fallen out of fashion several centuries before this mural had been painted on the interior tomb walls. So, to continue their research, they carefully removed the painting from the walls.

Archaeology News Network

For hundreds of years, archeologists ignored Cumae, focusing their efforts on cities that saw their demise thanks to Vesuvius — and they overlooked fascinating discoveries. This isn’t as uncommon as you might think.

Archaeology News Network

For instance, a few thousand miles away, members of a society known as Subterranea Britannica made a world-shaking discovery while doing what they loved: exploring man-made caves.

Subterranea Britannica / Facebook

On one particular group outing, the UK-based group included two below-ground-buffs who’d done their homework. Hayley Clark and Ed Waters brought their expertise of ancient history — along with remarkable attention to detail — on an important excursion.

ITV

Together the Sub Brits (as they are known) made their way to the British Midlands. They were headed towards Creswell Crags, a limestone gorge with a series of archaic caves, last inhabited over 10 thousand years ago.

Palaeo Post

Just a few steps into the entrance of what is known as the Robin Hood Cave, Hayley and Ed stopped abruptly. Then, the pair dashed straight to the rocky walls and ran their hands over the cool surface: they’d made a gripping discovery.

Karl101 / Flickr

Covering vast stretches of the limestone interior walls were countless scratches and carvings, undoubtedly thousands of years old. The markings were obvious, the first thing you’d notice when entering the cave; to the untrained eye, they were also totally insignificant.

The Vintage News

For years, locals and facility workers believed that the carvings on the walls were meaningless scrawlings, graffiti dating back to the Victorian period. Every passerby through the cave noticed them, but no one had ever recognized what they truly were…

Michael Allan Hall / Flickr

Until Hayley and Ed noticed the markings, their hidden meaning was overlooked for centuries. Hundreds of individual characters were etched into the surface, but what pulled them away from the wonder of the tour were two letters: V V.

The Vintage News

Immediately, Hayley and Ed knew the letters represented a phrase that carried a curious weight. “V V” stood for “Virgin of Virgins,” a prayer beseeching Mary of Nazareth for protection against dark forces.

Dionicio Godina / Flickr

The “V V” annotations were repeated dozens of times on any surface the carvers could reach. Hayley and Ed shared their findings with the rest of the tour group. Their guide, Heritage Facilitator John Charlesworth, was gobsmacked.

Creswell Crags

He notified the Creswell Heritage Trust at once, and experts were called in to examine the symbols. They scoured every inch of the caves. Even in the hard-to-reach nooks and crannies, they found hastily made inscriptions.

The Guardian

Crosses, maze patterns, and boxes were repeated ceremoniously, just like the religious  “VV” pleading. Apparently, these kinds of messages were used to trick and subsequently trap evil spirits.

The Psychologist

With the serious and dramatic meanings of the marking finally understood, there was a giant red flag: What were all these people afraid of? Clearly, a dark force had driven them to a desperate state to carve symbols on the walls of a cave for help.

Artemii Zhdanov / Flickr

Answering that question started by identifying the persons responsible for the carvings. Allison Fearne, a Ph.D. of Archaeology at the University of Leicester, claimed these apotropaic markings are usually associated with places of worship or the door frames of the home.

East Anglian Daily Times

Spending hours a day chiseling into stone, back when it would be slow painstaking work, is the act of someone in fear. The root cause of such panic has something to do with the other common name for apotropaic markings — witch marks.

Visit Blue Mountains / Flickr

Historians from Creswell Heritage teamed up with Historic England and determined the markings date back between the 14th and 18th centuries, and attributed their carving to residents of nearby Creswell.

Telegraph

There’s no way to prove indefinitely that the citizens of Creswell were suffering from a real-life version of The Witch, but the sheer quantity of the markings means something spooky was going down.

Giphy

Connections between nature and the supernatural go back centuries and in a setting plucked out of the pages of a fantasy novel, with cliffs and a picturesque lake, anyone could see how the caves could exude power.

Lee Wyatt / Flickr

It’s also possible the villagers were facing merciless diseases or debilitating poverty and blamed a witch. Taking to the caves to perform a ritual saving themselves from unknown despair could have been their last straw.

Alfonso Coya Testón / Flickr

No matter what the cause, the caves at Creswell Crag represented an overwhelming visual depiction of something sinister. When understanding of the markings swept the tour group, everybody felt a prickle of fear.

Derbyshire Times

“It was like something from The Shining,” said the director of Creswell Crags Museum and Heritage Center, Paul Baker, after entering the cave armed with his new knowledge about the innumerable symbols.

Giphy

Creswell Crag has the highest number of recorded apotropaic markings for any location in Britain. But in fact, many other creepy discoveries have been made throughout the historically dense English landscape.

Paul Steptoe Riley / Flickr

Christopher Woodward, Museum Director for London’s Garden Museum, envisioned beautiful renovations to the centuries-old building he operated. So, naturally, he panicked when site manager Karl Patten called him with an ominous request.

Garden Museum / Vimeo

“I think you better come here quickly,” Karl told Christopher over the phone. It sounded like bad news, and given the history of the building, there was a lot that could go wrong. For instance…

Garden Museum / Vimeo

The museum was located within the medieval church, St. Mary-at-Lambeth, not far from the River Thames. Beside it was the residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury and across the river was Westminster Abbey—both priceless structures. Had the construction damaged something irreplaceable?

Hyper Allergic

Christopher arrived at his museum, and Karl explained the situation. “We were exposing the ground as part of the job,” he said, “and we uncovered an entry to what looked like a tomb.” Christopher’s mind was racing—uncovering a tomb should have been impossible.

Garden Museum / Vimeo

Christopher explained. “We were told there was no crypt because it was so close to the Thames, it would have flooded … [and] in the 1850s … they cleared out hundreds if not thousands of coffins” to install underfloor heating. So what the heck had Karl found?

Garden Museum / Vimeo

Putting safety first, Karl (right) retrieved a camera, attached it to the end of a stick, and lowered it into the chamber. Then, from the ground level, the men peered into the lower level of the church.

Garden Museum / Vimeo

Down through the hatch were more than a dozen coffins—30 to be exact. More curious than the coffins themselves, however, was the brilliant object that was perched atop one of them…

Garden Museum / Vimeo

Christoper was floored. “I came in thinking this [phone call] sounds like bad news, problem, and wow, and it’s the crown—it is the mitre of an Archbishop gleaming there in the dark.” But somehow, that wasn’t the most impressive discovery!

Garden Museum / Vimeo

Among the coffins discovered in the lower-level crypt were those of five archbishops—all of whom had extensive and historically impactful resumes to their names! One coffin, for instance, bore a plaque with the name John Moore.

Garden Museum / Vimeo

John Moore served as Archbishop from 1783 to 1805. Described as amiable, he led movements in support of Sunday schools and missionary enterprises. Still, historians working on the project were drawn to one coffin in particular…

Along with Archbishops Thomas Tenison (left, who reigned 1695 to 1715), Matthew Hutton (1757 to 1758), and Frederick Cornwallis (1768 to 1783), Christopher discovered the remains of Archbishop Richard Bancroft (right). You might be familiar with his work…

Archbishop Bancroft served from 1604 to 1610; during his tenure, he oversaw the writing and publishing of the King James translation of the Holy Bible! Historians involved in the project couldn’t contain their excitement.

The Telegraph

“To know that possibly the person that commissioned the King James Bible is buried here is the most incredible discovery,” Wesley Kerr, a historian, and horticulturist, said. It “greatly adds to the texture of this project.” And yet the crypt contained more than its share of mysteries, too.

Garden Museum / Vimeo

“We still don’t know who else is down there,” Christopher said, as the contents of all 30 coffins hadn’t been identified. Still, the church’s history might’ve had held some answers: more archbishops and their families.

“This church had two lives,” Christopher said. “It was the parish church of Lambeth … but it was also a kind of annex to Lambeth Palace itself … Over the centuries a significant number of … archbishops … chose to worship [and be buried].”

Garden Museum / Vimeo

Perhaps most amazing of all, however, was that, by all accounts, this discovery should have never been possible. “Every archaeologist in London has looked in this building,” Christopher said, “but nobody told us to expect us to find anything.”

Hyper Allergic

As for Christopher’s findings, he didn’t have any grand plans to remove the coffins or crown. To respect the dead, he and the Garden Museum left the bodies right where they were—though he didn’t shut them away completely from the public eye.

Garden Museum / Vimeo

Once the 18-month, £7.5 million redevelopment project was completed in 2017, the Garden Museum presented a single pane of glass that would cover the entry to the tomb. So, what did that mean for Garden Museum patrons?

Hyper Allergic

It meant that, as they perused the museum and inspected installations that beautifully captured bits and pieces of London’s colorful history, they, too, could stumble upon the hidden crypt of the archbishops!

Hyper Allergic