Saturday, 16 February 2013

The Staffordshire Hoard Strikes Again

Outside of the United Kingdom, when you think 'hoards' in Britain, you would not be blamed for thinking of the bounteous Eighth Century Sutton Hoo Hoard in East Anglia with its stunning gold and silver helmet inlaid with garnets, elaborate brooches, plates and drinking horns, being pulled out from a tomb under a boat burial.

Yet, what of the Staffordshire Hoard? Made up of over 3500 items and totalling 5.094 kilos of gold, 1.442 kilos of silver and 3,500 cloisonné garnets (that may have come from as far away as Sri Lanka or India) being mostly items of war such as pommel caps and hilt plates. It is a far larger hoard than Sutton Hoo and no less astounding.

Fish and Eagles Zoomorphic Mount - Click on link for more images
In July 2009, Terry Herbert packed up his sandwiches, his thermos of tea and his metal detecting equipment for a day out on a farm field in Hammerwich Parish, near Lichfield, Staffordshire.
What he found would not only change his life, and the life of the farmer who owned the field, but it would make the world of British Archaeology positively quiver.

Strewn throughout that ploughed ground was the largest Anglo-Saxon find ever made. The Staffordshire Hoard. Found in a location not far from the ancient Roman thoroughfare, Watling Street, which is believed to have still been in use when the hoard was first buried.

The find was as impressive in archaeological terms and cultural implications as the Tomb of Tutankhamen in Egypt. It brings with it a plethora of knowledge to soundlessly pass on from the Eighth or Ninth Century to not only academics and historians, but also to the artisans who specialise in replicating Anglo-Saxon craftsmanship.
One item even had a biblical inscription, written in latin and mispelled in two places, that read 'Rise up, O Lord, and may thy enemies be dispersed and those who hate thee be driven from thy face'

Stylised Seahorse - Click on link for more images
Archaeologists descended on the site to retrieve all artefacts. They even enlisted the help of the Police to scan the field in search of more metallic finds. It was assumed that the majority of the treasure was found. But it was not.

Recently, in December 2012, after the farmer ploughed his field again, more finds came up from deeper down. Only 100 metres away from the first site. Of 91 pieces, 81 were confirmed as part of the Anglo Saxon treasure. Some matching pieces that had already come from the field with the original hoard.

An inquest was held in January 2013 and the 81 pieces were officially classified as treasure and of an age over 300 years old. This now means that there will be a valuation done in March 2013 and the items will become available for sale.
The original Hoard, with moneys raised from donations and fundraising, was purchased by the Staffordshire County Council and neighbouring authorities and is currently being displayed in four museums.

It is hoped that the same authorities will be able to raise the funds for these new 81 pieces and the finds can be included into the current collection.


For more information on the displays and the hoard visit the Staffordshire Hoard Website

- MM



  1. There was a tele show about the original hoard and how they had to be clever in digging it sort of covertly. They were attempting to prevent relic hunters from getting to the hoard. They did note that they expected there might be more, but were reluctant to do a geophys survey until they could get the right people together again. Which begs the question, why didn't they get the Time Team to do it since a large part of that group were the professionals enlisted for the first one.
    Looks like the plough go there first though. Hah!

    1. I stumbled upon some of that documentary when I was on You Tube looking for the BBC video on the second find in December. I wish I had seen it and will be keeping an eye out for it on the doco cable channels.
      Poor Time Team. You know they are disbanded right? Filmed their final show. *sniff* That saddens me. No more Time Team. Perish the thought.
      As you know, a Geophys survey would not have picked up the metal though, not unless it was large. They were saying that some of the finds were even too deep or too small for most brands of metal detection equipment to pick up. That is why the Police Metal Detectorists did not pick up anymore when they swept the field during the original dig.
      Very exciting to know that here could be more still. They just need the funding...and for Mr Ploughman to stop ripping the crap out of the site. Lol.

    2. Yeah, that geophys stuff is touch and go. The field is sort of just a triangle at the junction of three (I think) motorways, is elevated and sort of rounded on top. I wouldn't be surprised if they found burnt remains one day. It's a tough place to dig, plus if recall, there are pylons nearby. I mean with all the modernity around there, what is most amazing as that it was only found this century. As though they did their all to purposely miss it each time.

    3. I have not seen any footage (a=other than the small amount in that news broadcast video I included in my blog post). I am itching to watch the documentary to see all the details. :)

  2. aye no more time team, :0(.mind they did say they may be one off specials.

    really enjoyed that terri. beautiful items.

    1. OH I hope they do!! I will miss the show and with any luck they will air some of those one off specials that they do so well.

      Glad you enjoyed it, Mark. :)