staffordshire-hoard

Anglo-Saxon inscribed gold strip from the Staffordshire Hoard, 7th-8th century 

This gold strip carries the Latin inscription: “Rise up O Lord, and may thy enemies be dispersed and those who hate thee be driven from thy face.” It has two sources, the Book of Numbers or Psalm 67, taken from the Vulgate, the Bible used by the Saxons.

The Staffordshire Hoard is the largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver ever found. It was discovered in a field near the village of Hammerwich, in Staffordshire on July 5, 2009. The items total over 3,500 in all and date from the time of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Mercia.

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Anglo-Saxon Filigree Seahorse from the Staffordshire Hoard, c. 7th-8th Century

Many of the pieces in the Staffordshire Hoard are decorated using filigree, a technique which creates patterns by soldering lengths of twisted wire to a base plate. This sea-horse mount is one of the most remarkable pieces in the hoard decorated using this technique. The filigree work on it is astonishingly fine –a grain of rice is longer than three of the spirals which make up the decoration.

There is some discussion as to whether this mount really represents a seahorse or not. Some experts argue that the Anglo-Saxons tended not to portray animals particularly realistically and that it is better to regard this mount a showing a stylised horse’s head. Others feel that the shape is so reminiscent of the species of seahorse that lives off the coast of Britain that the maker must really have intended to picture a seahorse.

The Staffordshire Hoard is the largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver metalwork yet found. Discovered in a field near the village of Hammerwich, near Lichfield, in Staffordshire, England, on 5 July 2009, it consists of over 3,500 items that are nearly all martial in character and contains no objects specific to female uses.The artifacts have tentatively been dated to the 7th or 8th centuries, placing the origin of the items in the time of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Mercia.

A reasonably productive morning writing up my lectures notes on Old English and the enigmatic ‘Staffordshire Hoard’. I’m loving how neat my handwriting is, too!

Anglo Saxon gold mount 'mystery' in Norfolk

A “mystery” gold mount found in a Norfolk field has provided “another piece of the jigsaw” for historians looking for Anglo-Saxon settlements.

The item was found at Sculthorpe near Fakenham and is possibly from a sword grip, but experts say it has differences to similar finds.

Dr Andrew Rogerson, county archaeologist, said: “It’s a fragment, but there’s no context for it.”

No evidence of dwellings has ever been found in the village.

The Portable Antiquities Scheme, which is in the process of valuing the item, said it was “similar to sword-grip mounts from the Sutton Hoo ship burial and the Staffordshire Hoard”. Read more.

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Anglo-Saxon Sword Pyramid from the Stafforshire Hoard, c. 7th-8th century

The Staffordshire Hoard is the largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver metalwork ever found. It was discovered in a field near the village of Hammerwich, in Staffordshire on 5 July 2009. The items, over 3,500 in all, date from the time of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Mercia, c. 7th-8th century.

The sword pyramid is one of a pair. These pyramids are hollow inside, with a bar across the opening rather like on a belt buckle. Pyramids like this have been found in a number of Anglo-Saxon graves, lying beside sword scabbards. The pyramids would have adorned a leather strap that would have been attached to a scabbard (which is a cover for a sword).  Straps like this are mentioned in the Viking sagas, where they are called ‘peace bands’. They could be tied around the handle of the sword, securing it in place in the scabbard so warriors were not able to draw their swords suddenly in anger.

The Staffordshire Hoard is remarkable for the extraordinary quantity of sword fittings. Most are of gold and many are beautifully inlaid with garnets. Such elaborate and expensive decoration would have marked out the weapon as the property of the highest echelons of nobility. The discovery of a single sword pyramid is a notable event - to find several pairs together is absolutely unprecedented.

Britain’s greatest treasure hoard reveals how goldsmiths fooled the Anglo-Saxon world

Scientists, examining Britain’s greatest Anglo-Saxon gold treasure collection, have discovered that it isn’t quite as golden as they thought.

Tests on the famous Staffordshire Anglo-Saxon treasure, a vast gold and silver hoard found by a metal detectorist five years ago, have now revealed that the 7th century Anglo-Saxon goldsmiths used sophisticated techniques to make 12-18 karat gold look like 21-23 karat material.

Scientific research, carried out over the past two years on behalf of Birmingham City and Stoke-on-Trent City councils, which jointly own the hoard, has revealed that the Anglo-Saxon goldsmiths had discovered an ingenious way of, metallurgically, dressing mutton up as a lamb. Read more.

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Golden sword pyramids dating from the 6th-7th century.

All from the Staffordshire Hoard, perhaps the most important collection of Anglo-Saxon objects found in England. 

“…this is going to alter our perceptions of Anglo-Saxon England in the seventh and early eighth century as radically, if not moreso, as the 1939 Sutton Hoo discoveries did; it will make historians and literary scholars review what their sources tell us, and archaeologists and art-historians rethink the chronology of metalwork and manuscripts…”

-Leslie Webster of the British Museum, on the discovery of the hoard.

Courtesy Portable Antiquities Scheme.

January 5th - Further along the canal, overlooking the Barracks Lane/Watling Street island, traffic looked heavy tonight. It always amuses me to think that down in that valley, watered by the Crane Brook, overlooked by the foursquare Hammerwich Church on the opposite hill, the Staffordshire Hoard lay undisturbed for hundreds of years. Narrowly missed by canals, a railway, various road schemes and a toll motorway, the gold treasure lay undisturbed in a quiet field just to the right of this picture. As kids, we scrambled through this landscape, completely oblivious.

Staffordshire hoard: experts piece together rare warrior's helmet

More than 1,500 scraps of silver gilt foil from the Staffordshire hoard of Anglo-Saxon treasure, including strips stamped with designs of warriors and beasts and other fragments the size of a fingernail, are being pieced together by archaeologists and conservators into a warrior’s helmet of international importance – as it is one of only five ever found.

With years of conservation and research remaining, Historic England will announce a £400,000 grant on Tuesday to fund the continuing study of the largest hoard of Anglo Saxon precious metal work ever found. It was discovered by a metal detector in 2010 in Staffordshire farmland before another 90 pieces were recovered from the same field three years later. Read more.

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April 10th - Down at the Warehouse, Where the Lichfield Road and Barracks Lane Cross, a horse’s neigh from where the Staffordshire Hoard found Hammerwich, some beautiful flowers by the horse pasture. Forget me nots, wallflowers, blackcurrant, daffodils, hyacinth and others vie for attention in a busy hedgerow.

A gorgeous sight on what was a blustery, rather cold day.

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Katharine Morling’s ceramic art inspired by the discovery of the Staffordshire Anglo-Saxon Hoard. The works use the animals and beasts depicted on the discovered items as starting points for new creative work. It has been considered likely that the animals and creatures depicted as decorative embellishments on objects represented personified attributes or qualities desired or demonstrated by the owners. Morling’s artwork takes this possibility one step further… ‘The Potteries’ Museum, Stoke-on-Trent, 23.12.16.

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“Dark Ages” aside, this is pretty interesting; plus, pretties to look at.

Lost Gold of the Dark Ages, National Geographic

In July 2009, amateur treasure hunters searching with metal detectors on a Staffordshire farm made an amazing discovery: hundreds of precious gold and silver objects from the seventh century. The trove of treasures and battlefield items remains England’s most important Anglo-Saxon archaeological find—a time capsule revealing new stories from when Germanic invaders were laying modern England’s ethnic foundations.

See also: Lost Gold of the Dark Ages: War, Treasure, and the Mystery of the Saxons, Caroline Alexander (2011) 

In July 2009 an amateur metal-detecting enthusiast made an astonishing find: 1500 pieces of bejeweled gold and silver almost 1500 years old, buried, lost, then forgotten. The treasure trove promises to shed unprecedented light on the most mysterious period of British history—the so-called “Dark Ages"—when the Saxons, Anglos, Celts, Picts, Jutes, and Vikings battled for control of the British Isles and a "mish mash of peoples evolved into a homogenous nation possessed with a strong cultural identity,” according to New York Times bestselling author of the book, Caroline Alexander.
 
Alexander, author of the bestselling The Endurance and The Bounty, draws themes from the story of the spectacular treasure to explore the entire fascinating history of the Saxons in England; from the fall of Rome to the flourishing and seemingly incomprehensible spread of Saxon influence. Piece by piece, she draws readers into a world of near constant warfare guided by a unique understanding of Christianity, blended as it was with pagan traditions. Through heroic and epic literature that survives in poems such as Beowulf and the Legends of King Arthur, Alexander seeks to separate myth from reality and wonder, with readers, if the circumstances of the deposit of such a spectacular hoard have parallels in legendary tales. Peering through a millennia of mist and mystery, Alexander reveals a fascinating era—and a mesmerizing discovery—as never before, uncovering a dynamic period of history that would see its conclusion in the birth of the English nation.
 
Set in a landscape whose beauty endures, the story of the making of England emerges through a wealth of archaeological and written material. The story highlights the fluid nature of human societies and carries a surprisingly modern message of a successful, cohesive culture emerging from a diverse group of peoples.