Historic artefacts cast in 18 carat gold ready for public treasure hunt in Scunthorpe

Last chance for keen treasure seekers to catch a glimpse of the original objects.

Last chance for keen treasure seekers to catch a glimpse of the original objects.

Five unique historic artefacts are being cast in solid gold in preparation for Treasured City, a thrilling public treasure hunt across Scunthorpe launching in early 2017 and created by internationally-renowned artist Luke Jerram.

A Janus train engine and Viking brooch are among the five objects from North Lincolnshire Museum selected by artist Luke to reflect the rich heritage of the town and surrounding area.

Each object is being cast in 18 carat gold, worth £1,000 each, and will be hidden in secret locations across Scunthorpe and the region for the public to find and keep. Clues to the whereabouts of the five solid gold replicas will be woven into the visual content of five paintings specially created for a new exhibition at 20-21 Visual Arts Centre from 18th February – 29th April 2017.

Eager treasure hunters who want to get a head start and see the original artefacts will need to be quick however – four of the five original objects are currently on display at North Lincolnshire Museum, but the museum is due to close on December 24th for the installation of a new permanent gallery and won’t re-open until the start of the Treasured City exhibition in February 2017.

Treasured City is designed to encourage people to explore Scunthorpe’s rich heritage and surroundings as well as engaging those who wouldn’t normally visit a gallery or take part in arts events.

Working with company VIPA Designs and North Lincolnshire Museum, Luke is scanning each object before printing a 3D wax model. Using the lost wax process, an ancient practice believed to date back to c. 3,700BC, molten gold is then poured into a mould which had been created by the printed wax model.  The casting process is being captured on film and will be displayed at 20-21 Visual Arts Centre as part of the final exhibition.

The first object cast in gold is a small 3cm copper alloy ram figurine, believed to be 1st century Roman. Discovered in Winteringham, the exact origins of the figurine are unknown but it is believed that it may represent a sacrificial ram within a household or temple shrine, or could even be a simple child’s toy.

Last chance for keen treasure seekers to catch a glimpse of the original objects.

Luke said:

I chose this object as I know that farming and agriculture has always been important in the region. I like the fact that we don’t know exactly why the object was made.

A beautiful Viking brooch is the second item cast into gold for the treasure hunt, selected to pay homage to the region’s Viking history. The brooch, which was discovered by a metal detector in Ewerby, is a typical trefoil shape and is decorated with interlaced animals in a Borre style.

Last chance for keen treasure seekers to catch a glimpse of the original objects.

Trefoil brooches such as this were traditionally worn by Viking women. In the 9th Century, Vikings raided the North East coast of Britain ahead of a full scale invasion in 866AD. After crossing the Humber, the Danes sacked and captured York, a traditionally great defensive stronghold, despite fierce Northumbrian resistance.

Luke said:

I love this brooch for some reason. Its strong triangular shape reminds me of all the wind turbines there are in the area. I wonder how many people have worn it over the years?

The third object chosen by Luke is an intricate 16th century Ivory Fisherwoman figurine which was discovered in a garden on West Street in Winteringham. At 6cm tall, the figure is carrying two fish in her left hand, indicative perhaps of Winteringham’s location north of Scunthorpe on the banks of the Humber Estuary.

Last chance for keen treasure seekers to catch a glimpse of the original objects.

Luke said:

I love this object. It has been so well carved with all the tiny details and is somehow intimate and personal. I wonder how many people have owned and held this object – why was it made and who for?

The fourth object to be cast in gold is the recognisable Janus train used in the steelworks of Scunthorpe for transporting materials across the site. The ‘two-faced’ train was chosen by Luke to represent the Scunthorpe steelworks which has dominated the town and its history. The iron industry in Scunthorpe was established in the mid-tenth century, and it is known today as the UK’s largest steel processing centre.

Last chance for keen treasure seekers to catch a glimpse of the original objects.

Finally, representing Scunthorpe’s ancient geological history, an ammonite is the fifth object in the Treasured City hunt. Ammonites with their typically ribbed spiral shell form are perhaps one of the most recognisable fossil types, with their name originating from the Greek ram-horned god Ammon. Ammonites belong to a group of predators known as cephalopods, which includes their living relatives the octopus and squid, and they lived in the sea between 240 and 65 million years ago.

Last chance for keen treasure seekers to catch a glimpse of the original objects.

Luke said:

I love to think about the landscape of Lincolnshire underwater all those millions of years ago. The geometry of the ammonite is stunningly beautiful. I can’t wait to see what it looks like cast in gold!

Last chance for keen treasure seekers to catch a glimpse of the original objects.Commissioned by 20-21 Visual Arts Centre, Treasured City is being supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council of England, with kind support from North Lincolnshire Museum. People can follow the progress of Treasured City at www.lukejerram.com/treasuredcity or via twitter @lukejerram and @2021VisualArts and by searching the hashtag #treasuredcity.

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