A COUPLE of metal-detecting enthusiasts have unearthed a rare piece of Calderdale history – 40 miles away.
Terry and Nicola Wright were sweeping fields near Copmanthorpe, just off the A64 near York, when they came across 24-carat gold mourning ring with the name Joseph Brooksbank and the year 1726 engraved into it.
Intrigued, the couple searched the name on the internet and found it was a mourning ring that related to Brooksbank School, Elland.
Terry said they were lucky to have even been in that part of the field, let alone find the ring.
“There was an electric fence around the field that was interfering with our detectors so we walked to the middle to escape it,” he said.
“The detector started going off and the ring came out of the ground with the first shovel.
“Following some detective work on the internet, I found The Brooksbank School website and decided to get in touch with the school and tell them the news,” said Terry, of Royston, South Yorkshire.
Mourning rings date back to the medieval period and by the 17th century it was customary to engrave rings with the name and dates of deceased loved one.
At the time the ring is likely to have been dropped, the Brooksbank family had a home in London as well as a country home in Healaugh, near York.
“The mourning ring would have been worn by his widow, Mary Stamp,” said Terry.
“Perhaps she was out one day, horseriding, and lost the ring. That’s something we’ll never know.”
Nicola and Terry were invited into the school, to meet staff involved in organising the school’s centenary celebrations.
Lee Edmondson, marketing and events co-ordinator at the school, said: “The ring is a fascinating artefact which relates directly to the founder of our school, who died almost 300 years ago.”
“We have very few details about Joseph’s life and no pictures, so it is wonderful to have sight of the ring and its personal inscription.”
The finding of the ring, which is inlaid with Whitby yet, has been logged with the British Museum.
A book on the history of the school has been produced to mark the centenary year. The Brooksbank Legacy is available for £10 by visiting the school’s website.