Very similar, indeed… Over 3,900 artefacts in the Anglo-Saxon hoard discovered in Staffordshire in 2009 now belong to Stoke-on-Trent City Council and Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery jointly – Staffordshire Hoard website. The independently assessed price at the time was £3.3million, which included £900,000 raised through public donations.
Now, after recent ploughing, a further 90 pieces of gold and silver have been recovered from the same field.
More gold and silver, including a gold and garnet cross, an eagle-shaped mount, and what could be a helmet cheek piece, have been churned up by ploughing in Staffordshire in the same field which three years ago yielded one of the most spectacular Anglo Saxon hauls.
When archaeologists first scoured farmer Fred Johnson’s field in Hammerwich and discovered the hoard, which comprised more than 3,500 fragments of metalwork including sword, shield and helmet mounts inlaid with pieces of garnet and enamel, they left convinced they had emptied it of every scrap of treasure. Now a 90 further pieces have been found.
The workmanship in the new finds appears identical to pieces from the original haul; the helmet cheek piece appears to match one found three years ago.
Following the discovery three years English Heritage immediately recognised the exceptional significance of the finds and provided emergency funding at the start of the dig together with continued expert advice, support and funding for the research and preservation of the Staffordshire Hoard.
Archaeologists working with Staffordshire County Council later carried out the excavation of the field and discovered the largest ever find of Anglo Saxon gold and silver metal work from this country.
In total the hoard included over 5kg of gold, 1.5kg of silver and thousands of small garnets.
They include a bishop’s pectoral cross, a large folded cross, a helmet cheek piece, a filigree seahorse and numerous sword fittings including hilt plates and pommel caps.
The pieces appear to date from the seventh century, although there is some debate among experts as to when the hoard first entered the ground.
The dig was closed when archaeologists were confident they had retrieved everything that was recoverable at the time.
Last month, a team of archaeologists and experienced metal detectorists from Archaeology Warwickshire returned to the field when it was ploughed and recovered further material. These are currently being examined and x-rayed at a specialist archives laboratory.
And, as the BBC report adds
The leader of Staffordshire County Council, Philip Atkins, said he was hopeful the money could be raised to keep the new pieces in the West Midlands.
“Fundraising wasn’t easy last time but it should be more manageable this time around because we’ve only got 90 pieces not 3,000-odd,” he said.
“I’m pretty certain local people will step up to the plate and help us raise the money, even in these hard times.”
A formal decision on whether the new find are connected to the 2009 hoard will be taken by the local coroner at a treasure inquest on January 4.
There are some relevant TV programmes to keep an eye out for on this topic.
Channel 4’s Time Team did a special on the 2009 Staffordshire Hoard – Secrets of the Saxon Gold.
BBC Four provides a couple of options. The Staffordshire Hoard feature in Dr. Janina Ramirez’s Treasures of the Anglo Saxons.