Artefacts from the Staffordshire Hoard on Display in Birmingham Museum, UK





A day after the discovery of Anglo-Saxon treasure was announced to the public, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery put a selection of the still-earth-covered objects on display until 13 October. Thereafter, the Staffordshire hoard will head to the British Museum where the artefacts will undergo forensic study before being sold and the proceeds divided – as per the 1996 Treasure Act – between the finder of the haul and the owner of the land.

Notwithstanding experts ruling it out as a burial chamber, the sheer quantity of gold reminds you of Tutankhamun’s tomb, with amateur treasure-hunter Terry Herbert taking on the role of professional archaeologist Howard Carter.

Talking of Carter, it is the seventieth anniversary of his death. But this find (totaling 1,500 items) is being compared to one in 1939, not 1922 (when roughly 3,500 were discovered), and the Sutton Hoo discoveries.

Yet, the comparison with a burial ship does not do Mr. Herbert’s hoard much justice: his 5kg of 7th-century gold and 2.5 kg of silver far surpassing the 1.5 kg of Anglo-Saxon gold found seventy years ago.

Parallels aside, the artefacts will no doubt change our perception of the Dark Ages and rewrite history; history hitherto foundered on myth rather than historical documentation.

According to the Birmingham Mail, more than 1,000 people had flocked to the museum by close of business on Friday. After queues that stretched out of the doors into the city’s Chamberlain Square, visitors were able to see more than 30 exhibits across four glass cabinets in what is a makeshift but magnificent exhibition.

Comprised mainly of “consummate” metalwork from hilts and helmets, but also showcasing a repertoire of Christian crosses, the treasure dates from between 675 and 725AD, a period when pre-English kingdoms were fighting for supremacy.

One of the most significant objects from the hoard is a small strip of gold inscribed with a war-like quotation from the Bible.

Its Latin inscription translates as: “Rise up, O Lord, and may thy enemies be dispersed and those who hate thee be driven from thy face” (Numbers 10:35).

Other objects have still yet to be identified.

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