AN almost pure gold ornament found in near Alston and dating back to the early bronze age has been declared as treasure by a coroner.

An inquest at County Hall in Morpeth heard that the 33mm long ornament, thought to be a hair tress or a decorative piece worn on clothing, dates back to 2400BC and is a “very early example of metalwork.”

It has been described as one of the earliest metal objects found in the UK.

The artefact, made of almost pure gold, was found at Kirkhaugh Cairns near Alston in 2014 by four youngsters.

According to a report by Eleanor Cox of the British Museum, is the partner of a matching object found at the site in 1935, during an excavation led by Herbet Maryon.

In a twist of fate, two of the young boys who found the treasure - brothers Sebastian and Luca Alderson - are the great-great grandsons of Joseph William Alderson, who was part of the 1935 team. The other boys were Joseph and Aidan Bell, and all four were taking part in the Altogether Archaeology project for the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natureal Beauty.

The tress was found alongside three flint arrowheads and a jet button.

At the inquest on Thursday, December 17, acting senior coroner for South Northumberland Andrew Herrington ruled that the item was indeed treasure under the Treasure Act of 1996.

As the object has now been declared as treasure, it must be offered for sale to a museum at a price set by an independent board.

In February an ancient Bronze Age gold ring, that was declared treasure in 2018, was bought by Carlisle's Tullie House Museum.

The first of its kind to be found in Cumbria, it could as much as 3,300 years old.

Known as a pennannular ring - meaning a ring with a small part of of its circumference missing - the find was discovered at the site of an ancient Roman fort in Wigton.

It now forms part of the musuem's prehistory gallery called Origins.