The Staffordshire Hoard is a newly discovered cache of gold and silver objects tentatively dated to the 7th-8th centuries AD. More than 1,500 objects, weighing approximately 11 pounds, were found by metal detectorist Terry Herbert in an agricultural field near his home in Staffordshire, England.
An intricately carved gold artifact is displayed as part of The Staffordshire Hoard, the UK's largest collection of Anglo Saxon treasure ever found, at Birmingham Museum on September 24, 2009 in Birmingham, England. Photo by Christopher Furlong / Getty Images
Among the treasures, which authorities believe date to the 7th and 8th centuries AD Anglo-Saxon period, are sword hilt fittings, helmet pieces, crosses and a strip of gold bearing a Latin inscription from the Bible. There are gobs of photos available from various press sources; the media loves to see lots of gold goodies and they were invited to bring along their cameras to the press conference held today at the Birmingham Museum. Not being in England, I was lucky to discover that Getty Images had a photographer there, so here are a few to look at in the Photo Essay of the Staffordshire Hoard.
The hoard is a very male-oriented, war-related collection; scholars are suggesting that it was the private cache of an elite Saxon warrior or warriors, or had been stolen from one or more. The swords themselves aren't there—the bits seem to have been torn off the weapons rather than the weapons themselves. Hard to say what that means at this point. The intricate designs, the numbers and sheer weight of the objects and the use of semi precious stones are all supporting evidence of that.
After analysis, which is expected to take months if not years, the artifacts will be displayed in a venue to be announced. Lots of museums are vying to buy the hoard, as you might imagine, and that group includes the British Museum and English Heritage.
More on Anglo Saxons and Hoards in General
- The Staffordshire Hoard: A Photo Essay
- Sutton Hoo burial mound
- What is a Hoard Anyway?
- Cuerdale Hoard
- Staffordshire Hoard, Birmingham Museum, official homepage
Also see the Portable Antiquities' Flickr page for lots more photos
- USA Today: Hoard of gold and silver found in British field
- Telegraph: Britain's most significant archeological finds, includes a description of other similar discoveries
- AFP: Record Anglo-Saxon treasure trove found
- BBC News: Anglo-Saxon treasures uncovered, lots of large format photo images
- BBC News: Hoard highlight of 18-year hobby
- Birmingham Post: Archaeologist thrilled by Staffordshire hoard of Anglo Saxon treasure
- BBC: Huge Angle Saxon gold hoard found, with video
- You Tube: How significant is the Staffordshire Hoard? (2 minutes)
- The Spoof: Extraterrestrial isotope traces in massive pre-Atlantean goald hoard, if you need a giggle
Thanks to Antiquity's Jo Tozer for the heads-up.