staffordshire-hoard

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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.

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.

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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.

Secrets of the Staffordshire Hoard: Skills of the Saxon smiths revealed

The Staffordshire Hoard is a glittering reminder of the creative talents of the Anglo-Saxons – but now a pioneering research project is revealing that their skills were more far sophisticated than previously imagined, as Carly Hilts learned.

When the Staffordshire Hoard was discovered in 2009, the exquisite artistry of its contents immediately captured the public imagination, vividly demonstrating the creative powers of Anglo-Saxon goldsmiths. Now, however, a pioneering research project (undertaken at the British Museum and funded by English Heritage) has revealed that their techniques were more sophisticated still. Read more.

Photograph by Robert Clark

Artifact owned by Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery; Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent

A figure pocked with nail holes may represent a horse—or a bear, or a boar, or even a wolf. Just 1.6 inches high, it was made by a master goldsmith who knew how to heat the metal almost to melting point to attach the tiny swirls.  From the Staffordshire Hoard.

(National Geographic)

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Conservators have discovered that three gold, garnet and enamel pieces from the Staffordshire Hoard which bore no immediately obvious relation to each other fit together to form a beautifully perplexing mystery object.

As historian David Starkey noted at the time, this is why it’s so important to keep archaeological discoveries intact in their proper context. If the hoard had been broken up and sold to the highest bidder, those pieces could have been scattered to the four corners of the earth.

More about the find, possible solutions, a video and about the US Staffordshire Hoard tour!


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.

Staffordshire Hoard reunited for the first time

The Staffordshire Hoard –the largest assemblage of Anglo-Saxon metalwork yet found in England – has been assembled in its entirety for the first time since its excavation, as part of a major research project that is still uncovering a wealth of clues about this unique collection.

When the cache was first discovered in a Hammerwich field in 2009, it was thought to contain some 3,500 fragments. This total has now been boosted to close to 4,000, thanks in part to the discovery of an additional 81 pieces in the same field in 2012 (CA 276), and to hundreds more tiny fragments emerging from clumps of soil during conservation.

Comparable to the Sutton Hoo finds in their exquisite artistry, these items have been brought together to allow Anglo-Saxon specialist Chris Fern to examine them typologically. This has allowed him painstakingly to reunite objects that were broken into many pieces, and identify pairs and sets of sword fittings from the same weapon. Around 1,000 such links have been made so far. Read more.

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.

"Rise up, Lord, may your enemies be dispersed and those who hate you flee from our face."

A strip of gold once studded with a gem bears the same biblical quotation in Latin on each side: Moses’ declaration, translated above, as the Israelites journeyed out of Sinai. The object may have decorated the arm of a cross prized by recent converts to Christianity.  From the Staffordshire Hoard.

(National Geographic)

Mystery gold object emerges from the Staffordshire Hoard

Three pieces of the Staffordshire Hoard have been identified as belonging to one object, but this is where the mystery begins, as the function of this composite piece is unknown.

A few tentative suggestions have been made, ranging from a saddle fitting to the decorative terminal to a parchment scroll.  So, perhaps you will be able to help the experts and give a name to this mystery object.

The millefiori mount K545 has a rectangular hole and four small round holes on the back which match the rectangular protrusion and circular holes on the top end of the cylinder K1055, so K1055 clearly slotted into the back of K545. K545 is made up of two components, a base plate with a cloisonne garnet border and the top with the mounted glass checkerboard gem.  When these two components are separated, you can see that the rectangular protrusion passed through the base plate and into the back of the gem mount. The circular holes also appear in the back of the gem mount. Read more.