The Staffordshire Hoard and Anglo-Saxon England
'The Staffordshire Hoard' by Roger Bland and Kevin Leahy
The 'Staffordshire Hoard' is a collection of hundreds of beautiful Anglo-Saxon gold items ~ almost 4,000 in fact ~ often decorated with garnets.
The items probably date to the 7th or 8th century
There are military pieces, religious artefacts and items of jewelry.
For some reason they were hidden ~ buried in Staffordshire ~ and there they lay, undiscovered, for hundreds of years.
Then, one day in the year 2009, a man with a metal detector unearthed them, in a field, near Lichfield.
Staffordshire is in the English Midlands, and belonged, once, to the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Mercia.
Tamworth in Staffordshire was ancient the Mercian capital.
Staffordshire Hoard: Early Medieval Cross - Folded
Anglo-Saxon England, Sutton Hoo and the Staffordshire Hoard
I am fascinated by the Anglo-Saxon period of English history ~ and I think that this fascination is due, in part at least, to the enthusiasm of one of my tutors ~ Margaret Gelling.
I first met Margaret Gelling, when I attended her course on the history of English place-names, as an under-graduate, at Birmingham University, in 1985. (Most English place-names ~ including the word 'England' ~ are Anglo-Saxon in origin.)
Fast forward about 15 years and I joined another Margaret Gelling course (extra-mural from Birmingham University). This one concentrated on Anglo-Saxon art, including the amazing discoveries at Sutton Hoo.
(Books on these subjects will be available to borrow from libraries, and to buy online or in bookshops.)
Staffordshire Hoard: Anglo-Saxon Sheet Gold Artwork
Angles and Saxons in Britain in Roman Times
There were Angles and Saxons in Britain during Roman times, but the great influx came after the Romans left the islands, in 410 AD. How many came, and how violent their arrival was, is still being investigated, but at least two things are certain; they gave England her language and they produced intricate and delightful artwork. Anglo-Saxon archaeological finds, of great beauty, have been discovered. These include wonderfully ornate pieces in gold and garnet.
One renowned Anglo-Saxon burial site, where a hoard of such finery has been found, is Sutton Hoo. The finesse of the treasure discovered indicated that this was the grave of a high status individual, and it has now been concluded that this was the final resting place of King Raedwald of East Anglia ~ this, of course, being the Kingdom of the Angles of the East of the land.
Staffordshire Hoard: Buckle and Pommel Caps
The Anglo-Saxons came from the North-West of mainland Europe (part of modern-day Germany) so it is not surprising that they should settle in the East of Britain. However, East Anglia was not the only kingdom. Most of England came under Anglo-Saxon leadership (England ~ not Wales or Scotland) and other kingdoms included the large and important kingdom of Mercia, with its capital at Tamworth. Some lovely pieces had been found in the Midlands, but nothing as important as those at Sutton Hoo in Suffolk, and certainly no cache of royal Mercian jewels.
Mrs Gelling felt sure that such a treasure must exist somewhere in central England and she would ponder, with her students, when and whether it would ever be found.
Staffordshire Hoard: Selection of Objects
Anglo Saxon Art - Viewing the Delights!
When my Mum phoned, last year, to tell me that a fabulous hoard of 7th-century Anglo Saxon riches had been discovered in Staffordshire, I felt very emotional. (The discovery was made by a man using a metal detector.) The mysterious lost treasure had finally been found. I was very sad to learn that Mrs Gelling had died on 24th April 2009, just a few weeks before the discovery, on 5th July.
Mum told me that the jewellery would be on display, the very next day, at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. Thousands went to view the impressive display ~ far more than expected ~ and we were amongst them. It was a wonderful and awe-inspiring experience. Light was being cast over the dark ages ~ a misnomer, if ever there was one. Mrs Gelling would have loved it, I'm absolutely sure.
I cannot describe the delights that we saw; I can only describe my pleasure and pride at seeing them.
To see some of the exhibits for yourselves, please go to the official site, where there are over 650 Photographs:
Also the Birmingham University site is interesting:
This is a book, from The British Museum, on the 'Staffordshire Hoard':
'Staffordshire Hoard' ~ Kevin Leahy and Roger Bland (From the British Museum)
Staffordshire Hoard: Anglo Saxon Hilt Fitting
By Roger Bland and Kevin Leahy
'Staffordshire Hoard' by Kevin Leahy and Roger Bland (From the British Museum)
This is a book, from The British Museum.
Books relating to Sutton Hoo and Anglo-Saxon Suffolk, and to Wasperton, can be found in the Amazon listing, below.
Other interesting works include:
Anglo-Saxon England (Volume 22) by Michael Lapidge, Malcolm Godden, and Simon Keynes
The Archaeology of Anglo-Saxon England: Basic Readings (Basic Readings in Anglo-Saxon England) by Catherine E. Karkov
West Stow, the Anglo-Saxon village (East Anglia archaeology) by Stanley E West
An Archaeology of the Early Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms by C. J. Arnold
Staffordshire Hoard: Part of a helmet
Some books by Margaret Gelling:
Signposts to the Past: Place Names and the History of England by Margaret Gelling
Place-Names in the Landscape: The Geographical Roots of Britain's Place-Names by Margaret Gelling
The names of towns and cities in Britain, by Margaret Gelling
The West Midlands in the Early Middle Ages (Studies in the Early History of Britain) by Margaret Gelling
Discovering Place-Names: A Pocket Guide to about 1500 Place-names in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales by John Field and Margaret Gelling
The Landscape of Place-names by Margaret Gelling and Ann Cole
The Cambridge Dictionary of English Place-Names: Based on the Collections of the English Place-Name Society by Victor Watts, John Insley, and Margaret Gelling
of these books may be out of print, or rare and expensive, but they may
be available to view in libraries.
There are various sites on the Internet which you may wish to seek out, if you find this subject interesting. Also there are a number of books, which you might wish to beg, borrow or buy. I have noted some of those that I have found on Amazon.
I hope that I have made no errors, and apologise if I have.
'The Staffordshire Hoard' By Roger Bland and Kevin Leahy
There is another hub about this hoard here:
- Found- Anglo-Saxon Gold and Silver Hoard
A Historic Anglo Saxon Military Gold and Silver Hoard is uncovered. It was only a matter of time.
'The Largest Hoard'
Staffordshire Hoard Links
- Staffordshire Hoard - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- A new Staffordshire Hoard gallery is now open at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery
The Birmingham University site has an interesting page on the subject.
- The Staffordshire Hoard
The official site, where there are over 650 Photographs!
About the Discovery
- Metal detector enthusiast unearths huge hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold - Times Online
'Terry Herbert from Burntwood, came across the huge treasure estimated to be worth more than 1 million as he searched a field near his home. The exact location of the discovery has not been disclosed but it is understood to be near the Lichfield.'
- BBC NEWS | UK | England | Staffordshire | Huge Anglo-Saxon gold hoard found
The UK's largest haul of Anglo-Saxon gold artefacts is found buried in a field in Staffordshire. 'Terry Herbert, who found it on farmland using a metal detector, said it "was what metal detectorists dream of".'
Update Mar 20th 2010 - Saved for the Midlands!
According to Neil Elkes, of the Birmingham Mail, the 'Staffordshire Hoard' is to remain in the English Midlands. This a a victory for all those locals who have contributed to the fund to keep Mercian Anglo-Saxon treasure in 'Mercia'. It has been supplemented with a lottery grant. Brilliant!
The Birmingham Mail article is here:
Some of my History Hubs
Images of some Anglo-Saxon jewellery that had previously been found in 'Mercia':
- Dinham Anglo Saxon Pommel Shropshire Council
Photograph and information on the Dinham Anglo Saxon Pommel