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The Staffordshire Hoard comes to Bidford


In 2009, Terry Herbert, using his metal detector to search for relics of the Roman period along the verge of the A5 (Watling Street,) near the Roman settlement of Wall, Lichfield, uncovered a number of Saxon artefacts which within weeks were identified as a major treasure, and became known as The Staffordshire Hoard.

The Hoard comprises some 4000 pieces and has been valued at £3.285m in total. It was all discovered within five days’ digging in a small area of farmland adjacent to the road, and no finds have been made elsewhere. It is made up of solid gold and silver pieces, many of them encrusted with garnets from southern Asia. The gold is almost certainly of European origin. 

Staffordshire County Council’s archaeologists were immediately called in, and we witnessed an impressive slide  show presented by Ian Wykes, former county archaeologist for Staffordshire, who had been personally involved in collecting and identifying the items discovered. He began by retracing the finding of the Hoard, and the steps taken to protect it, Mr. Herbert who first unearthed it, and the farmer (Fred Johnson) on whose property it was buried.  He had nothing but praise for Staffordshire Police, who carried out a supporting role, and took satisfaction from the fact that the Hoard is now in the joint possession of the city museums in Birmingham and Stoke-on-Trent, which raised the money to purchase it.

He went on to describe the contents of the hoard, comparing them for artistry with earlier Saxon finds at Sutton Hoo in Suffolk and in southern Sweden, and relating them to the known history of the so-called “Dark Ages” and to contemporary and pre-Norman history and literature. In his opinion, the Lichfield findings were of superior quality to Sutton Hoo, and could open the way to greater knowledge of English history in the 7th to 9th centuries.  The evidence Mr. Wykes gave for this opinion included the use of filigree decoration and cloisonné on the artefacts, and the presence of handwritten script, not previously associated with work from this period. He added that the gold itself included some which had been minted as well as some that had been melted down and reworked.


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