Thursday, September 24, 2009

Anglo-Saxon Hoard Found in Field

"This is what metal detectorists dream of, finding stuff like this," 55-year old Terry Herbert told journalists, after it was reported that he had stumbled upon an ancient gold hoard worth some seven-figures. Herbert found the cache in a field in Staffordshire owned by a friend. The field is located in what was once the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Mercia.

The hoard, the largest Anglo-Saxon treasure ever found in the UK, contains some 1500 gold and silver pieces and is thought to hail from the 7th-Century. It is so large, experts say it may take a year or more to value it. It has been demarcated a "treasure," meaning it belongs to the Crown. Herbert and his farmer friend will be rewarded for the find. "I have this phrase that I say sometimes - 'spirits of yesteryear take me where the coins appear' - but on that day I changed 'coins' to 'gold,'" Herbert said. "I don't know why I said it that day but I think somebody was listening..."

The hoard contained boxes of gold, swords with bejewelled pommels, over 500 silver pieces, and more. X-rays have shown over 50 dirt clods from the site contain objects yet to be uncovered. Jewels, copper alloy, and glass objects accompanied the find, but "feminine items," such as brooches and pendants, were curiously absent.

Archaeologists know it was not a burial, and do not believe it was an offering. Many of the pieces have been stripped of their precious metals and jewels, leading experts to think the pieces themselves were not valued as objects; some ancient cultures used "hacksilver" for moneys - large pieces of jewelry, such as bracelets, from which pieces were hacked to use as currency. Hoarding is not associated with the 7th-Century and the pieces are warlike in nature, so the treasure may have been buried for safe-keeping and never recovered.

© C Harris Lynn, 2009

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