ONE of Britain's most remarkable historical artefacts has returned to Somerset for the first time in 300 years. 

Visitors gathered at a reception at the Museum of Somerset in Taunton on Friday night, to herald the rival of the 9th Century Alfred Jewel. 

The gold, enamel and rock crystal jewel, was found near North Petherton Church in 1693, and bears an inscription which translates as “Alfred ordered me to be made”, leading scholars to believe it was commissioned by the ruler of Wessex, King Alfred the Great. 

The jewel belongs to Oxford University's Ashmolean Museum, but has been loaned to the Museum of Somerset and will be on display throughout February.

Anybody interested in finding out more about the jewel can attend a talk at the museum on February 11, by Professor Simon Keynes, of Cambridge University.

Susie Simmons, visitor services manager, said, “The Alfred Jewel is such an important treasure and we're delighted to be having it on display during February. 

“We're especially pleased that Professor Simon Keynes, one of the country's leading experts on the jewel, is coming to share his knowledge and enthusiasm with us. 

“It should be a fabulous evening, and everyone who attends will also have a chance to see the jewel after the talk.”

The talk starts at 7.30pm. Tickets are £8 and can be booked by calling the museum on 01823-255088.