Â£1.3 grant from National Lottery secures future of The Staffordshire Horde
It has been confirmed this week (article written March 20th) that a Â£1.3 grant from the National Lottery added to Â£2 already rasied by a public appeal is sufficient to safeguard this historic collection and keep it in the Midlands for the future generations. There are plans for the collection to be houses in a heritage centre and museum although many items are on loan to otherÂ museumsÂ including a permanent collection at the British Museum.
Found by a Treasure hunter
In the summer of 2009 a treasure trove of 1500+ items comprising 5 Kg of Gold and 2.5Kg of silver was found in a field in Staffordshire. Mr Herbert, 55, of Burntwood in Staffordshire, who has been metal detecting for 18 years, came across the hoard as he searched land belonging to a farmer friend over five days in July 2009.
In pure scrap terms this find is worth over Â£100,000 for metal alone but its actual value has been priced at Â£3.2. This is the money that needed to be raised to purchase the horde Â by Birmingham and Staffordshire Museums. Finally this has been secured.
In the heartlands of Mercia
The Â location of the find is Johnson’s Farm near Brownhills, Staffordshire: about 4 miles west of Lichfield.
This location, close to the town of Tamworth the ancient capital of Mercia, is in the heartland of the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Mercia. The items date from the 7th or 8th centuriesÂ duringÂ the hey day of that Kingdom between the reigns of Penda in the mid 7th century and Offa a century later.
More Important than Sutton Hoo?
The horde consists of stunningly beautiful items dating back – it is believed – to the 7th century. In total the horde is larger than that found at Sutton Hoo in East Anglia and represents a find of profound historical importance according toÂ Leslie Webster, British Museum:
“This is going to alter our perceptions of Anglo-Saxon Englandâ€¦ as radically, if not more so, as the Sutton Hoo discoveries. Absolutely the equivalent of finding a new Lindisfarne Gospels or Book of Kells.”
Treasure taken in battle?
According to experts who have the job of cataloguing the the find the treasure is not just of exceptionally high quality, it is also interesting it what it contains and what it does not. There is absolutely nothing feminine such as Â dress fittings, brooches or pendants, which are the most common items found in these treasure hordes. Instead the majority of items in the hoard are war gear, especially sword fittings.
Could this represent the booty of war and raiding in the Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms? Was this Â a votive offering to the gods at the end of the Pagan era? Was it buried to avoid rampaging armies and forgotten about?
Many theories prevail but the Staffordshire Horde is likely to provoke great interest for years to come. I for one will be in the queue when the museum finally opens.
Read about a different treasure in my novel set in Dark Age Northumbria The Amber Treasure