A metal detectorist has discovered a hoard of precious items (now declared treasure under the Treasure Act 1996) in land that was once part of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Mercia in England. Archaeologists were called in and recorded around 1500 items altogether, with around half being precious metals and gems.
It looks phenomenal, and is far larger than the hoard found at the Sutton Hoo ship burials which itself was impressive enough. What is really interesting to me is that these are often fragments of larger items and even the whole items haven’t been treated with care by whoever assembled the hoard – crosses are folded up for example – indicating that it was the previous metals and gems rather than items themselves that were valued. One of the experts who examined the hoard wrote:
The material is predominantly associated with war – swords, sword fittings, bits of helmets and the like – but all the precious metalwork has been stripped. That means they’re not treasuring the objects as wholes, they’re taking the precious metals off and keeping them.
Basically it looks like the collector of this was an Anglo-Saxon magpie, on a massive scale! 🙂
I’m glad to see that this is a case where the Treasure Act and the Portable Antiquities Scheme worked out really well; the find was reported immediately allowing archaeologists to excavate the items in situ and record all the vital information that lets us put these items into the wider context which is otherwise lost if these things are just ripped out of the ground and disappear into a private collection or onto the black market. All too often we are losing that valuable information about our past forever when that happens. So big props to the finder and the landowner for doing the right thing (not to mention they’re up for a massive reward, which is also the right thing to do).