Metal Detectorist Discovers 300-Year-Old Silver Thimble Engraved With a Romantic Inscription

The artifact, which features the words “like enduringly, love forever,” had been declared a treasure by officials in Wales

Engraved silver thimble
A metal detectorist discovered this silver thimble while scanning the grounds of Carew Castle. National Museum Cardiff

Metal detectorist Robert Edwards was searching at Carew Castle in Pembrokeshire, Wales, when he unearthed a silver thimble inches below the soil.

“I was out detecting under the shade of an oak tree and was having no luck until I changed the program and found a great crisp signal,” says Edwards in a statement from the National Museum Cardiff. “At first I thought it may be a sixpence, but to my surprise it was something silver—and not a coin!”

This month, officials in Wales designated the item as a treasure.

The thimble dates to between 1682 and 1740, according to McClathy’s Moira Ritter. The “tall, narrow but heavy” artifact is decorated with a basket-weave pattern and zig-zagged silver ribbons—a common design for such objects in England and Wales during this period, per the museum.

“It wasn’t until later, when I saw the similar waffle pattern on another thimble, that I knew I had found something special,” Edwards adds. “To be honest, my cousin (who is also my detecting partner) was a little jealous!”

The bottom of the artifact features a “posy” inscription, a type of engraving often found on rings that declare love or devotion. On the newly discovered thimble, capitalized letters spell out “LYKE STIL AND LOVE EVER,” which means “like enduringly, love forever,” per Artnet’s Verity Babbs.

Similar posy inscriptions have been found on several 17th-century thimbles made in England and Wales.

“Romantic passages such as this are very similar to those seen on contemporary posy rings,” according to the museum. “Perhaps thimbles, worn on the finger during needlework, were considered an intimate (and therefore romantic) possession, suitable as a gift between lovers.”

In accordance with the Treasure Act of 1996, which requires individuals to report certain finds that are over 300 years old, Edwards turned over his discovery. After conducting additional analysis, officials declared the thimble—along with three other objects—a treasure on March 13.

Now that the thimble’s status has been finalized, museums will get a chance to purchase it at a price determined by the Treasure Valuation Committee.

Edwards will only be able to keep the thimble if no museum wants or is able to purchase it. The Tenby Museum and Art Gallery, which is a short distance from Carew Castle, has already expressed interest.

Regardless of the thimble’s final destination, Edwards is still excited about his remarkable find.

“I like to think about who used it,” he says. “Was it used in the castle I could see over the way? Did someone get in trouble when it was lost? I’m very happy that I’ve been able to share it with the rest of you.”

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