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The first pieces of the Staffordshire hoard were found in early July 2009 by Mr Terry Herbert while he was metal detecting in a field in southern Staffordshire. Mr Herbert reported the find to the Portable Antiquity Scheme's Finds Liaison Officer for Staffordshire and the West Midlands, based here at Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery. Because the find was so important, English Heritage and Staffordshire County Council funded an archaelogical excavation which was carried out between 24 July and 21 August by Birmingham Archaeology. Following the excavation Mr Herbert found a few more pieces , but a final search of the site 14-15 September by a specialist police remote sensing team found nothing else, so it is likely that the entire hoard has been recovered.
At least 1,500 artefacts and fragments were discovered. Most of the complete objects are made of gold - the hoard contains about 5 kilograms (11lbs) of gold - but there are also items of silver and copper alloy. The hoard is unusaal because it largely seems to be made up of fittings that have been stripped from the hilts of swords and daggers (mostly pommel caps and hilt plates). No trace was found of any sword or dagger blades. In addition to the fittings, the hoard also contains parts of a helmet, plus at least two Christian crosses. Many of the gold items are decorated with pieces of garnet, a deep red precious stone. Others are covered in fine filigree work, or carry patterns made up of animals with interlaced bodies. To see images of the artefacts look at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery's photographs on Flickr.
Anglo-Saxon gold artefacts
The hoard was declared to be Treasure at a coroner's inquest held at Cannock on 24 September. Under the 1996 Treasure Act any gold or silver objects found that are more than 300 years old are Treasure, along with any objects found with them. As Treasure, the hoard belongs to the Crown, but in practice interested museums can acquire it by paying the finder and landowner its commercial value. This was assessed by the Treasure Valuation Committee, an independent body of experts on November 25th 2009.
The Treasure Valuation Committee recommended the value of £3.285 million to the Secretary of State and this has now been agreed with
Plans to Acquire the Hoard
Birmingham City Council and Stoke-on-Trent City Council welcomed the final valuation of the Staffordshire Hoard of £3.285 million. The two authorities planned to jointly acquire the treasure, and were given four months to raise the funds. A public appeal was launched led by The Art Fund to increase the £40,000 already raised through public donations.
The fundraising campaign gained the support of Government Office West Midlands and the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council.
Hoard Saved for the Nation
On 23 March 2010 The Art Fund announced that the Staffordshire Hoard has been saved for the nation.
The news came after the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF), the government's fund of last resort for heritage items at risk, pledged £1,285,000, bringing the campaign to the £3.3m target, just over three weeks ahead of schedule.
Thanks to the support of the public, trusts and foundations, and the generous £1,285,000 NHMF grant, the find has now been safely secured for Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery and the Stoke Museums.
Single donation from Court jewellers secures Staffordshire Hoard for nation
Acquiring the Hoard is just the beginning and we still need your help.
A further £1.7 million is required to create long-term displays in Birmingham and Stoke-on-Trent and to fund the conservation and research needed to unlock the wealth of information the Hoard holds about the history of Mercia and of Anglo-Saxon England.
There are a number of ways you can donate to the appeal:
- Send a cheque, made payable to “City of Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery Development Trust”, to the Hoard Appeal, Fundraising & Development Office, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Chamberlain Square, Birmingham B3 3DH. You can help us gain more from your donation by adding Gift Aid on this form.
- Make cash donations in the collection boxes at Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery and at the Potteries Museum, Stoke-on-Trent.
To keep up to date with all news about the Hoard visit the Staffordshire Hoard website: http://www.staffordshirehoard.org.uk
The Hoard conservation team have been making video blogs about their work. You can view these on BMAG's Youtube channel.
Details of the Portable Antiquities Scheme.
Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery would like to acknowledge the following suppliers who have given time, services, materials or equipment in support of the Staffordshire Hoard Project: