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Life in Culebrón is a disconnected series of pieces about the banal and ordinary of everyday life in an inland Alicante village seen from my very British perspective.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Ironmongers and gold diggers

There is a huge ironmongers shop in Villena, a town close to us in Alicante, and being the hosts with the mosts that we are, that is where we were taking our houseguests. What man could resist three, or it may be four, floors of tools, fastenings, machinery and gadgets? We thought we may even have a meal in their canteen afterwards. Our plan was foiled when the place was closed.

Never mind. We did get to see the town Archaeological Museum.

In 1963 a couple of workmen in Villena, found a bracelet in the gravel they were spreading. The foreman hung the bracelet up on the wall so that whoever had dropped it could reclaim it. A bit later one of the workers thought they might just pop it around to the local jeweller to see if it was worth anything. As it was made of half a kilo of 24 carat gold it did have a certain value but the jeweller thought there was something odd about it and suggested showing it to a local archaeologist. In turn this chap recognised it as being 3,000 years old or from the late Bronze Age. Fortunately for the Villena Treasure there were none of the "I Buy Gold" shops that there are now on every Spanish street corner. They'd have weighed it in and turned it into a nice charm bracelet without batting an eye lid.

The archaeologist, a regular Hercule Poirot, suggested they go and have a look where the gravel had come from just in case there was anything else there. They found a clay urn which contained seventy pieces of gold, 9 kilos in all, along with some silver vases and a few other smaller items thrown in for good measure. Not as romantic as Howard Carter breaking into King Tut's tomb but a pretty impressive haul nonetheless.

We got this story from a subtitled version of a No-Do, the Spanish equivalent of the Pathé News. I thought the No-Do piece told the story rather well even though the re-enactment of the discovery of the bracelet by the real life Spanish workmen, jeweller and archaeologist was of about the same quality as my portrayal of a penguin in the St Paul's Cub Scout Christmas Pantomime that same year.

The man from the museum opened the cupboard in which the treasure is kept so we could all have a look.

There is apparently no idea where the pieces come from, how they ended up in Villena or who made them but they really are very pretty.

I really need to get some clips to re-attach that glass shelf to the bathroom mirror and without a new saw how can I trim the palm tree? Maybe any old ironmonger's will do.

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