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24th September 2009
The Discovery of the Staffordshire Hoard - and What Happens Next
The first pieces of the Staffordshire hoard were found in early July 2009 by Mr Terry Hibbert 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.
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 will be assessed by the Treasure Valuation Committee, an independent body of experts. Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent, and Staffordshire County Council are hoping to acquire the hoard jointly so that it can be kept in the West Midlands.
Artefacts from the hoard will be on display at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery from Friday September 25. More news about this to follow.
View images of the Staffordshire hoard on Flickr.
For more information view the Staffordshire Hoard website.
Read about the story on the BBC website.
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