On 5 July 2009, a metal-detector user started to unearth some gold objects in a Staffordshire field. Thus began the discovery of the largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold ever found. Consisting of over 1600 items - including fittings from the hilts of swords, fragments from helmets, Christian crosses and magnificent pieces of garnet work - the Staffordshire Hoard is set to rewrite history. This is just the beginning of the story. This is going to alter our perceptions of Anglo-Saxon England in the seventh and early eighth centuries as radically, if not more so, as the 1939 Sutton Hoo discoveries did; it will make historians and literary scholars review what their sources tell us, and archaeologists and art-historians rethink the chronology of metalwork and manuscripts; and it will make us all think again about rising (and failing) kingdoms and the expression of regional identities in this period, the complicated transition from paganism to Christianity, the conduct of battle and the nature of fine metalwork production - to name only a few of the many huge issues it raises. Absolutely the metalwork equivalent of finding a new Lindisfarne Gospels or Book of Kells. Leslie Webster, former Keeper of the Department of Prehistory & Europe, the British Museum. The quantity of gold is amazing but, more importantly, the craftsmanship is consummate; 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. Its origins are clearly the very highest levels of Anglo-Saxon aristocracy or royalty. It belonged to the elite. Dr Kevin Leahy.
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