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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Few Little Known Facts about Gold

I was in the mood for trivia today and so a piece in the paper caught my eye: Ten little known facts about gold. I'm a bit of a silver girl myself, but who can resist the lure of a few doubloons? Here are a few choice facts.

Almost all the rocks and soil in the world contain traces of gold. Most of it could not be mined profitably. All the gold that has ever been mined would make a cube 20 metres on each side. This doesn't seem very much to me!

Gold is a safe food additive. Edible gold and silver leaf is classified as a natural food additive. When the Wispa Bar was relaunched in 2009 a gold leaf covered special edition was produced that cost £961.48, supposedly the precise value of its weight in gold.

Gold has been used by humans since the early bronze age 6000 years ago. It was particularly highly prized in ancient Egypt. Tutankhamun's inner coffin is made of 110kg of pure gold.

HMS Sussex, an English warship lost off Gibraltar in 1694, contained tonnes of gold coin to fund the Duke of Savoy, an ally of Britain in the War of the League of Augsburg against France. The ship sank in a severe storm on her first major voyage. Today the gold and silver it carried is thought to be worth up to $1 billion.

The largest horde of Anglo Saxon gold ever discovered in the UK was found recently in a Staffordshire field. It is thought to be the loot of a Mercian raiding party from circa 700 AD. Whenever I hear of finds like that I always wonder why no one came back for the treasure. Perhaps there was another battle and the raiders were killed. Or they buried it and then couldn't find it again. We'll never know...

In St Mary's Church at Lydiard Park Swindon is the Golden Cavalier, a full sized effigy of Edward St John emerging from his tent in full battledress. Captain St John died of wounds after the 2nd Battle of Newbury in the English Civil War.

Gold has always been recycled so the jewellery we are wearing today could well contain gold once worn by a Roman or an Incan. I love the thought that a Roman on Hadrian's Wall might have been wearing a gold brooch and now a speck of that gold is in my wedding ring!


NinaP said...

Stop! Please stop!! You've got story ideas exploding in my head.

[breathing. writing.]

Ok, that's better. :-)

"I always wonder why no one came back for the treasure." Now, that's where you want to use your time-travel ticket, Nicola. :-)


Jan Jones said...

I'm a silver girl too, Nicola. But ooh, those lost treasure stories always have me itching to know why.

Nicola Cornick said...

LOL, Nina, absolutely right! You can just imagine the conversation between two Mercian raiders: "I'm sure I buried it over there under the third tree from the right." "Well, it isn't there now..." And of course, someone else might have nipped along and stolen it in the meantime...

Glad you are another silver girl, Jan! I love the stuff. But stories of lost gold do intrigue...