“It looks like a collection of trophies”

Gold strip from Staffordshire Hoard

The Viking silver hoard found in 2007 dated to around the 10th Century, but the equally stunning 1,500 gold and silver Anglo-Saxon pieces found by metal-detectorist Terry Herbert in Staffordshire are believed to be older still. The treasure hoard, approximately 5kg of gold and 2.5kg of silver, shown in the BBC slideshow, may date back to the 7th Century. The gold strip pictured has the Latin inscription “Rise up O Lord, and may thy enemies be dispersed and those who hate the be driven from thy face”, which can be sourced to either the Book of Numbers or Psalm 67, taken from the Vulgate, the Bible used by the Saxons. The Guardian has a further report and more images. Dr Michael Lewis, deputy head of Portable Antiquities Scheme, British Museum tries to answer the question of who it belonged to and why it was put there.

Some of the items will be on display at the Birmingham Museum.

And from the BBC report.

Dr Kevin Leahy, who has been cataloguing the find for the Portable Antiquities Scheme, said it was “a truly remarkable collection”. He said it had been found in the heartland of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Mercia.

“All the archaeologists who’ve worked with it have been awestruck,” he added. “It’s been actually quite scary working on this material to be in the presence of greatness.”

He said the most striking feature of the find was that it was almost totally weapon fittings with no feminine objects such as dress fittings, brooches or pendants.

“Swords and sword fittings were very important in the Anglo-Saxon period,” Dr Leahy added.

“The Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf describes after a battle a sword being stripped of its hilt fittings.

“It looks like a collection of trophies, but it is impossible to say if the hoard was the spoils from a single battle or a long and highly successful military career.

“We also cannot say who the original, or the final, owners were, who took it from them, why they buried it or when.”

Here’s a dagger hilt found in the Staffordshire hoard. Photographs: PA

Dagger hilt from Staffordshire Hoard