Terry Herbert used a second-hand metal detector to discover the largest Anglo-Saxon gold hoard ever discovered. In July, Herbert found 5 kilos of gold and 2.5 kilos of silver in a recently plowed Staffordshire field. As he uncovered more and more items, he reached out to experts. The find is so large and complex, valuation is expected to take more than a year. Herbert and the owner of the field have agreed to split the proceeds of any sale:
Herbert found 500 items before he called in experts, who then found a further 800 articles in the soil. Officials aren’t saying exactly where the gold was found, other than to say it was in Staffordshire, in north-central England. “Pieces were just literally sat at the top of the soil, at the grass,” said Ian Wykes, of the county council. He said the hoard had been unearthed by recent plowing.
Most of the pieces appear to date from the 7th century, though experts can’t agree on when the hoard first entered the ground, Staffordshire Council said. The pieces are almost all war gear, Leahy said. There are very few dress fittings and no feminine dress fittings; there are only two gold buckles, and they were probably used for harness armor, he said. Sword hilt fittings and pieces of helmets, all elaborately decorated, are among the more remarkable finds.
“The quantity of gold is amazing but, more importantly, the craftsmanship is consummate,” Leahy said. “This was the very best that the Anglo-Saxon metalworkers could do, and they were very good. Tiny garnets were cut to shape and set in a mass of cells to give a rich, glowing effect; it is stunning.” […]
Regardless of the exact date, the hoard is certainly from a period of great turmoil, when kingdoms with tribal loyalties battled each other in a state of perpetual warfare, experts say. The land was also split along religious lines. Christianity was the principal religion, having gained ground at the expense of local pagan forms of worship, experts said. […] The hoard will likely help rewrite history, experts said.