Staffordshire Hoard is remarkable not only because it is a significant discovery but because it vindicated big time, the efforts of a metal detector enthusiast - 55 year old unemployed Terry Herbert who lives alone in assisted housing and on disability benefit. He said it was" more fun than winning the lottery."
What he unearthed back in July on his friend's farm was more than 1500 pieces of exquisitely crafted gold and silver ornaments dating back to Britain's dark ages - around the 7th century - in what was then the Mercia kingdom.
This discovery has experts absolutely beside themselves with excitement. So was Herbert. He and his friend stand to receive at least a seven figure sum after museums bid to buy the pieces. One expert told Herbert his discovery was akin to that of finding the Egyptian Pharaoh, Tutankhamen's tomb. Herbert added, "I just flushed all over when he said that. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up."
The amount of gold alone weighs more than 11 pounds - 3 times as much gold as the other archaeological find I wrote about before - the Sutton Hoo "ghost ship" discovery.
If you don't recognize any of the objects pictured, that is because there is nothing feminine in all the pieces. The hoard was war loot, buried to hid it from marauding enemies. There were dozens of pommel caps which were once attached to swords, cheek pieces from helmets and other war gear. At first glance the object below looks like a ring but it is actually a scabbard boss inlaid with garnets.
This strip of gold has a Biblical quote in misspelled Latin : "Rise up, O Lord, and may thy enemies be dispersed and those who hate thee be driven from thy face." No one yet knows the significance of this particular piece.
However, experts surmise the largest altar or processional cross (the pictured below beside an artistic drawing of what it probably looked like) may have been carried into battle. It was folded for compactness before burial and possibly out of pagan disrepect for a Christian symbol. So to the two pieces point to a pagan king's ill gotten gains. Single battle or a life-time of warring? Also a mystery is why it was never reclaimed.
The Staffordshire Hoard went on display yesterday for the first time in Birmingham Museum. Large crowds turned out to see it. Can't be there? Then watch this video.
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