SHROPSHIRE'S metal-detecting community has been praised following the discovery of medieval treasure near Market Drayton.

On Thursday, May 6, a treasure inquest was held to investigate the circumstances of a recently reported find from Cheswardine near Market Drayton.

This discovery was reported through the Portable Antiquities Scheme, having been found by responsible metal detecting

This artefact in question weighs no more than 10 grams and measures less than an inch in height but is 'exquisitely' decorated and dates to the Early Medieval period being made during the 9th or 10th centuries (AD 800-950).

The art style on this piece is known as Trewhiddle decoration after a large hoard of metalwork found in Cornwall.

However, because of the broken form it is uncertain as to its precise function.

One idea that has been suggested is that it forms a small button-like stud that fits to a sword scabbard to secure the leather straps, although experts believe it is more likely to be a fragment from a much bigger form of decorative fitting with bigger diamond shaped panels.

The edges on the lower half have been recently broken and so it is hoped that more parts might be recovered from the same field in the future.

Shropshire Museums have expressed an interest in acquiring these finds, with the hope of displaying them in the Roman galleries at Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery.

Peter Reavill from the British Museum's Portable Antiquities Scheme and Birmingham Museums' Trust, said the discovery showed the 'true value' of metal detecting.

He added: "The recovery and reporting of this piece will enable a better understanding of the rich and diverse nature of the late Saxon/Early Medieval period in Shropshire.

"In many ways we are a county that sits on the border between Welsh Kingdoms, West Mercia and the wider Danelaw and so the nature of our history is complicated – it is by collecting information about material like this that we can tell a better truer history and it is great that Shropshire Museums are able to acquire this through the Treasure Act."

Meanwhile Sarah Skelton, curator of Shropshire Museums, added: "This is a precious relic from the Early Medieval period, a time from which few objects survive.

"Acquiring this artefact helps us to discover more about Shropshire's history at this time and the way in which cultural styles were shared and traded.

"Highly decorative metal artefacts like this show us the high status of the people that carried and used them.

"They help to bring to life a sense of what people were doing in Shropshire in the early medieval period.

"Acquiring this for Shropshire Museums collections and putting it on public display will ensure that local people can see for themselves the exquisite workmanship and craft skill with which this was made, so many years ago."