Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Staffordshire Hoard

The Staffordshire Hoard is the largest collection of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver metalwork ever found. On July 5, 2009 Terry Herbert was searching an area of recently ploughed farmland near Hammerwich, Staffordshire with a metal detector and found the treasure.

Over the next five days, enough objects were recovered to fill 244 bags. Eventually over 3500 items were recovered.

The hoard comprises about 5kg of gold and 1.3kg of silver and has been dated as early as the 6th century. The craftsmanship is elite and the items could only have originated from the highest levels of Saxon society. Most of the gold had been removed from the objects they were attached to, suggesting the hoard was a collection of battle trophies.

The area of Staffordshire where the hoard was found was part of the kingdom of Mercia in the 7th and 8th centuries. The site of the discovery is about 4km (2.5 miles) west of the important Roman staging post of Letocetum. Watling Street was a major Roman road that would have seen continued use in the Anglo-Saxon period. During the 9th century it marked the demarcation line between the Anglo-Saxon and Danish-ruled parts of England.
In November 2009 the hoard was valued by the Treasure Valuation Committee at £3.285 million.

It was acquired by the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery and Mr. Herbert and the farmer on whose land the hoard was found each received a half share.

In early 2013 news broke of the recovery of an additional 81 gold artifacts.

A gilt strip bearing a Biblical inscription in Latin is one of the most significant and controversial finds in the Staffordshire Hoard. Incised into each face of the strip is a verse from the Latin Bible (Numbers 10:35).

“rise up, o Lord, and may thy enemies be scattered and those who hate thee be driven from thy face”