AN ALE jug unearthed in the grounds of a stately home near Ashbourne has sold at auction for £30,000.
The 800-year-old pitcher has been described by experts as ‘one of the most important and early Medieval relics of the potter’s art ever discovered’,
The jug, which dates back to around 1220, was first found by workmen in the Kedleston Estate in January 1862 but was recently unearthed again in an attic.
Its sale last week, by Hansons Auctioneers, attracted collectors from around the world and sparked a fierce bidding battle.
Junior valuer Elizabeth Bailey said: “The atmosphere in the saleroom was electric.
“Gasps rippled through the audience as the jug rose to £20,000, and once the hammer was down there was a round of applause for this fantastic Derbyshire object.”
The jug is decorated with horseshoe and buckle mouldings which are distinctive crests for the Ferrers family and has been described as ‘one of the most important and interesting early Medieval relics of the potters art’.
Henry de Ferrers, who built Duffield Castle slightly earlier, was a favourite Chieftain of William the Conqueror who fought at the Battle of Hastings in 1066.
Auctioneer Charles Hanson said: “It is remarkable to imagine what life was like back in mid 13th century England.
“It was the time of the Knight on horseback and jousting.
“The jug would have been used in the 1220-150 period as an ale jug and may have been filled with a cider or ale in the hot summer months when it was time to gather the harvest in across the Medieval countryside.
“The jug would almost have certainly been used by the Ferrers family.
“Servants would have provided ale in the jug which may have been enjoyed by the Ferrers family in the 1220s perhaps in the afternoon sunshine during harvest or with weapon training, hunting or inspecting the manor.
“The ale jug may have been passed by servants at evening supper in the Hall at Duffield Castle - with entertainment.
“The jug owes its preservation to a small fire crack on one side for which defect it was probably thrown aside and in the course of time got buried.”
The site where the jug was discovered, in a field on Burley Hill, was also the site of an ancient Norman potters’ kiln.