July 5, 2009: Medieval Fortune in Gold Found in English Field (Staffordshire Hoard)

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A Brief History

On July 5, 2009, in an English field near the village of Hammerwich, a man looking for curios with a metal detector in a freshly plowed field found gold and silver objects dating back to the 7th Century.

Digging Deeper

Over the next 5 days he filled 244 bags with the gold and silver combat and arms related objects (such as adornments for weapons), but no female oriented jewelry and the like.  At this point the lucky man and the land owner notified authorities and gave permission to excavate the site, which was done by Birmingham Archaeology (funded by English Heritage).  In an area only 30 by 43 feet 3500 (mostly small) pieces were recovered. In 2010, the excavation area was expanded.

All but 10 items were declared part of the original hoard, created between the 7th and 8th Centuries.  They main hoard is from the Kingdom of Mercia, an Anglo-Saxon culture, and the other 10 objects are thought to be unrelated from other Anglo-Saxon cultures.

Valued at a whopping £3.285 million (about $5.4 million) the landowner and metal detector hobbyist were allowed to split the proceeds from the sale of the items to the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery.

In 2012, 91 additional items were found, 81 of which the proceeds will revert to the same landowner and hobbyist.  They along with the vast majority of the items are believed to have been purposely buried for safekeeping, and then scattered by plowing.  An alternate explanation for the hoard is that it was buried as an offering to pagan gods.

You can see more about this treasure on You Tube, on the National Geographic website, and the websites for the Birmingham and Potteries museums, among others.

Although this hoard may be the biggest found in Britain so far, there have been others, and only time will tell what remains to be discovered.  If you have some vacation coming, perhaps you can buy a metal detector and visit Merrie Olde England!

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Historical Evidence

For more information about an earlier similar discover, please see…

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About Author

Major Dan

Major Dan is a retired veteran of the United States Marine Corps. He served during the Cold War and has traveled to many countries around the world. Prior to his military service, he graduated from Cleveland State University, having majored in sociology. Following his military service, he worked as a police officer eventually earning the rank of captain prior to his retirement.