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Metal Detectorist’s Hoard Leads to Twenty ‘Richly Adorned’ Anglo-Saxon Burials

Metal Detectorist’s Hoard Leads to Twenty ‘Richly Adorned’ Anglo-Saxon Burials


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Archaeologists from the University of Sheffield have uncovered a previously unknown Anglo-Saxon cemetery. Excavations have revealed more than 20 burials at the extraordinary cemetery in the Lincolnshire Wolds dating back to the late fifth to mid sixth centuries AD.

Detectorist Locates Unknown Cemetery

The dig at the site in Scremby, Lincolnshire was led by Dr Hugh Willmott and Dr Katie Hemer from the University of Sheffield's Department of Archaeology in collaboration with Dr Adam Daubney, the Lincolnshire Finds Liaison Officer for the Portable Antiquities Scheme.

The cemetery was first brought to light when a local metal detectorist began to discover a number of Anglo-Saxon artifacts, including copper gilded brooches, iron shield bosses and spear heads.

The finds were typical of those found in early Anglo-Saxon burials therefore it was necessary to excavate the site to ensure any further artifacts were retrieved, recorded and preserved before they could be destroyed by agricultural activity.

This is a brooch found at Anglo-Saxon cemetery unearthed by archaeologists from the University of Sheffield. ( University of Sheffield )

Community Excavation

International volunteers, students from the University of Sheffield, and members of the RAF from nearby stations took part in the excavation which is the first to have been extensively investigated since the 19th century.

Dr Hugh Willmott, Senior Lecturer in European Historical Archaeology from the University of Sheffield, said:

"Almost without exception, the burials were accompanied by a rich array of objects, in keeping with the funerary rites adopted during the early centuries of the Germanic migrations to eastern England. What is particularly interesting is the significant proportion of very lavish burials which belonged to women. These women wore necklaces made from sometimes hundreds of amber, glass and rock crystal beads, used personal items such as tweezers, carried fabric bags held open by elephant ivory rings, and wore exquisitely decorated brooches to fasten their clothing.”

  • The Great Heathen Army: Viking Coalition Becomes an Anglo-Saxon Nightmare
  • Fascinating Artifacts Unearthed in TWO Newly Discovered Neighboring Anglo-Saxon Sites in England
  • Hoard of 5,000 Anglo Saxon coins worth over $1.5 million discovered by metal detectorists on Christmas dig

Dr Willmott went on to detail the rich findings, "Two women even received silver finger rings and a style of silver buckle commonly associated with Jutish communities in Kent. Furnished burials belonging to males were also identified, including a number buried with weaponry such as spears and shields.

Dr Willmott added: "Children were notably absent in the parts of the cemetery excavated this year, however, one of the most striking burials was that of a richly-dressed woman who was buried with a baby cradled in her left arm.

Lady buried with baby cradled in her arms. ( University of Sheffield )

"The preservation of the skeletal remains, as well as the many grave finds, provide an exciting opportunity to explore the social and cultural dynamics of the community who chose to bury their dead on this chalky outcrop."

Insights From the Remains

In order to understand as much as possible about the site and those buried there, a series of scientific investigations are underway at the University of Sheffield by the Department of Archaeology.

The human remains are undergoing a complete osteological assessment, whilst stable isotope analysis of teeth and bone will identify where the individuals grew up as children and what food resources they ate.

Dr Katie Hemer, Lecturer in Bioarchaeology at the University of Sheffield, said: "Analysis also extends to a number of the finds, including the amber beads, which are being provenanced in collaboration with colleagues from Sheffield's Department of Physics; we will analyze the elemental composition of the metalwork and identify the elephant species which produced the ivory rings.

"The project's multi-faceted investigation which incorporates cutting-edge scientific techniques will enable Sheffield archaeologists to ask and answer significant questions about early Anglo-Saxon communities in eastern England."

The excavation will feature on UK TV on Digging for Britain on BBC4 at 9pm on 28 November 2018.


Alexander, C. 2011a. Lost Gold of the Dark Ages: War, Treasure, and the Mystery of the Saxons. Washington, DC: National Geographic.

Alexander, C. 2011b. Staffordshire Gold Hoard: Magical Mystery Treasure Buried in the English Countryside. National Geographic, November, http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/11/gold-hoard/alexander-text.

Bey, H. 2003. T.A.Z.: The Temporary Autonomous Zone, Ontological Anarchy, Poetic Terrorism. Brooklyn, NY: Autonomedia.

Coatsworth, E. and M. Pinder. 2002. The Art of the Anglo-Saxon Goldsmith. Woodbridge, Suffolk, UK: The Boydell Press.

Daniels, R. 1988. The Anglo-Saxon Monastery at Church Close, Hartlepool, Cleveland. Archaeological Journal 148: 158–210.

Docherty, T. 2015. Universities at War. London: SAGE.

Halsall, G. 2015. The Staffordshire Hoard: Its implications for the Study of Seventh-Century Anglo-Saxon Warfare, Historian on the Edge, http://600transformer.blogspot.co.uk/2015/08/the-staffordshire-hoard-its.html.

Leahy, K., and R. Bland. 2009. The Staffordshire Hoard. London: The British Museum Press.

Nancy, J. 1991. The Inoperative Community, trans. P. Connor, et al. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.


Lost City in South Africa Discovered Hiding Beneath Thick Vegetation

Millions of laser scans have uncovered the lost city that was once a bustling epicenter in what is now South Africa’s Suikerbosrand National Park, new research finds.

Karim Sadr, Professor of Archeology at the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa, said that the newly discovered city was once known as Kweneng, which existed from the 1400s until it was destroyed and abandoned, likely due to civil wars, in the 1820s. The vast area where the lost city, known as Kweneng, once stood.

Sadr said—It is not clear however if the conflict sounded the death knell of the city immediately. That’s because some of the remaining structures date from 1825 to 1875, “in what we call the terminal period” of Kweneng.

Researchers have known about Kweneng since at least the 1960s, but they didn’t realize its actual size until now, Sadr said.

Revil Mason, the retired director of archaeological research at Witwatersrand University, discovered pre-colonial structures there during an aerial survey in 1968.

“He spotted a number of ruins, but far fewer than are actually present,” Sadr said. The city is hidden under a thick layer of vegetation, Sadr said.

But in 2012, Sadr analyzed satellite images from Google Earth, and found that Kweneng had twice as many structures as previously realized.

And now, with the new aerial survey using lidar — or light detection and ranging — Sadr and his colleagues discovered that “there were actually three times as many structures as Mason had initially identified,” Sadr said. Researchers created 3D images of the city which had been lost to the world for 200 year

For the recent survey, the researchers used a lidar machine to shoot billions of lasers at the ground. Once these lasers hit an object, be it a structure, a bird or a tree, they bounce back to the machine, which calculates the time it took to return.

Ultimately, that time gives a distance, which the machine can use to create a 3D topographical map of the area.

“[We’re] filling a huge historical gap, especially for southern Africa, because you know pre-colonial history of southern Africa has no written record,” Fern Imbali Sixwanha, a doctoral student of archaeology at the University of the Witwatersrand, told Africa News. “So, now we [are] starting to fill in the gaps using this lidar technology.”

The lidar results revealed a greater concentration of ancient stone-walled structures than had been suspected — about 800 to 900 compounds in all. Given that each compound could have housed a few to many families, between 5,000 and 10,000 people were likely living there during the city’s peak in 1820, Sadr said.

The researchers documented the structural remains of the lost city.

The researchers dated the structures based on their “characteristic architectural style,” which are also found in other historic African cities far to the west of Kweneng, Sadr said.

The Tswana, a group of people who still live in Botswana, South Africa and neighboring regions, would have lived in Kweneng.

And since they didn’t have a written language, findings like this one can shed light on the people’s lives and perhaps, the architecture they used and how they set up cities.

“It is the largest of the pre-colonial Tswana capitals that we know so far,” Sadr said.

Moreover, it is the only known Tswana city that was occupied from the 1400s or 1500s, when it was just a few scattered homesteads, all the way to its pre-classic period in the 1600s, when villages appeared, he said.

“In its classic phase, between around 1750 and 1825, Kweneng grew into a city,” Sadr said.


What these gems reveal about the brutal men who made England

The Anglo-Saxons ruled England through the upheavals of the Viking age right up to the Norman conquest of 1066

From his high vantage point, the mighty Anglo-Saxon king Penda looked down on a sight of unimaginable brutality.

Below, on a battlefield strewn with bodies, his men fought with a lust for blood, filling the air with the roar of their shrieks, sword striking sword with the metallic clang of early warfare.

Later, in the glory of victory, Penda’s warriors dug a shallow hole.

They made a triumphal burial of their enemy’s weapons and battlefield spoils.

It was a custom of the day, a form of ritual humiliation of the foe, described in the great Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf: ‘Weapons of war and weeds (clothes) of battle, with breastplate and blade – a heaped hoard’.

Could it be that this was the scene that took place 1,400 years ago – and that such a hoard has now been discovered in Staffordshire? It seems more than possible.

King Penda would have been worthy of such treasure. He killed five kings in battles in the mid seventh century, becoming the most powerful Anglo-Saxon ruler of the age.

He was described by a contemporary as ‘a most warlike man of the royal race of the Mercians’. Later, he would be beheaded in battle. Truly it was a brutal era.

To say this magnificent find changes our understanding of the early Anglo-Saxons is an understatement on a massive scale for it changes so much we thought we knew about our warrior forebears.

It sheds new light on a period we have come to know as the Dark Ages – for unlike the Romans, who left us such a wealth of historical evidence, the Anglo-Saxons did not write anything down before they were converted to Christianity in the seventh century.

It is of course early days in terms of reconstructing how this treasure trove came to be buried.

But we certainly believe it to be a hoard of armaments taken from an enemy. Notably, there are no feminine objects such as dress fittings, brooches or pendants. Nor are there cooking utensils, nor domestic trappings – everything points to it being a trophy hoard taken in a war.

These warring Anglo Saxons were probably male soldiers in their teenage years and early twenties. The hoard shows that the soldiers were presumably wealthy enough to pay for beautifully wrought treasures, including gold and garnets, which might have come from as far away as India.

In the coming months and years, we will be analyzing each piece in minute detail and ascertaining what light these remains shed on our ancestors. The treasure was discovered in the heartland of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Mercia, in the English Midlands.

The Anglo-Saxons thought of themselves as the descendants of invading Germanic tribes who settled in the south and east of England at the end of Roman rule, in the early fifth century AD. They ruled England through the upheavals of the Viking age right up to the Norman conquest of 1066.

Basic: An artist's impression of a Anglo-Saxon village

The early Anglo-Saxons founded England as we know it. They spoke Old English – and they would have been just about intelligible to us. They developed royal families, systems of justice and a currency, which has come down to us with only slight modifications. They lived in settlements of wooden houses, with fireplaces in the middle and few windows.

The names of their villages still exist – Reading, Henley, Fulham, Hastings and Middleton are all Anglo-Saxon words. By the time the Staffordshire hoard was assembled, about half of England was officially Christian and monasteries were beginning to appear.

Their homes would have been smoky, dark and primitive. All activities requiring good light had to take place outside, making the magnificent craftsmanship seen in this treasure even more amazing.

Their food would have been familiar to us, but much more restricted in variety. They would have eaten porridge and bread, butter and cheese, but not so much meat, and not very many vegetables.

They did however have leeks, garlic and onions, and relied heavily on herbs to flavour their food. Meat came from farmed animals and from hunting. Apples and other native fruit would have provided vitamins.

They loved to party, drinking mead – a brew fermented from honey – beer and ale. They sang and danced, and were wonderful storytellers – we know this from the little poetry they left behind.

But there are still many ‘known unknowns’ about the Anglo Saxons. The big mystery is where did they come from?

Did they arrive from Germany in family units? Or as immigrant men who had children with native British women? Or did just a few come from the continent and show the native British a way of life to adopt.

Our Anglo Saxon forebears remain something of an enigma but with these magnificent treasures, we come a step closer to knowing our early English ancestors.

  • Dr Helen Geake is National Finds Adviser (Early-Medieval Artefacts) at the Department of Archaeology, University of Cambridge.

Mercia – Places of Interest

Tamworth Castle, The Holloway, Tamworth, Staffordshire, B79-7NA.

The Statue is not within the castle grounds but is next to the railed fence that surrounds it.

The eldest child of King Alfred the Great and Queen Ealswith whose date of birth is not known. She was educated the same with her brothers so was well educated and being a strong women which would be shown later in her life.

She was married young 16yrs with the Earl Aethelred of Mercia, part of her father`s plan to bring Mercia under Wessex control, they had one child a girl called AElfwynn as far as known and they brought up in their court her brother Edward`s son AEthelstan, being from an earlier marriage whose wife Ecgwynn had died.

At some point after their marriage Bishop Werferth of Worcester, fortified the town being allowed to retain the rents and other profits from the markets because of this most important work.

It is believed before 914 she established garrisons at Hereford and Gloucester also in 907 repaired the old walls of Chester, in 910 built her first burh at a place called Bremedoyrig which has not been identified.

By 911 AEthelred died having been mortally ill for sometime and this is when AEthelflaed came into her own as a formidable leader and tactician and after the Battle of Tellenhall she became known as `Lady of the Mercians` where she ruled for eight years, here there was a combination of Aethelflaed and her brother Edward the Elder King of England who made for formidable team, thus giving Aethelstan a very good understanding of being a king under her guidance, one key thing was building of burhs to protect the local area started by her father King Alfred, these were Bridgenorth 912, Tamworth 913, Stafford 913, Warwick 914, Chirbury 915, Runcorn 915, there are four more burhs Eddisbury 914, Bremsburh, Scergeal and Wearbryrig which have been tentatively identified.

She allowed Vikings from Ireland to settle on what is know Birkenhead, Cheshire so to protect the Dee estuary and so Chester and the Mersey estuary and so the hinterland of England, they became restless and attacked Chester, AEthelflaed took her troops onto the field outside the city and fained retreat, the Vikings followed thinking they had victory but on entering into the city the gates were closed behind them and the inner was already closed and there they were slaughtered, a mark of her leadership.

King Edward the Elder because of her out standing ability was able to secure southern England and move up the east of England.

In 916 she led an expedition into Wales to avenge the murder of a Mercian abbot and in the process captured the wife of the King of Brycheiniog and in 918 the region around York had pledged support for her, know doubt gaining her support against the Norse raiders from Ireland, but unfortunately two weeks before this happened she died on 12th June 918, her daughter took over her position which lasted for six months when her uncle King Edward the Elder relieved her of this, so Mercia came under the wing of England and the kings of Wales, Hywei Dda King of Dyfed South-West Wales, Clydog ap Cadell King of Powys North -East Wales and IDwal ab Anarawel King of Gwynedd North-West Wales, Gwent South-East Wales already in allegiance with Wessex/England.

AEthelflaed died at Tamworth, Staffordshire and was taken to St. Oswald`s Priory, Gloucester to be buried with her husband. The statue of her and her nephew AEthelstan was erected in 1913 as remembrance of her establishing the burh of Tamworth a 1,000 years ago which is set outside the castle of Tamworth.

MEMORIAL STONE CROSS OF KING EDMUND THE MARTYR ON 20th NOVEMBER

The Orthodox King Edmund the Martyr was a king and martyr of East Anglia in the ninth century. He succeeded to the throne of East Anglia in 855 as a fourteen year old, crowned on 25th December 855 at Bures, Suffolk which was a royal capital at the time., to die a martyr`s death the “Great Heathen Army”, a large army of Vikings that in the late ninth century pillaged and conquered much of England, even Wessex until King Alfred the Great defeated them at Edington in 878.

He was venerated early and became the patron saint of England.

Edmund was born in 841, early accounts and stories provide a cloud over who is his father. The sources considered the most reliable represent Edmund as descended from the preceding kings of East Anglia, when King Ethelweard died in 854, it was Edmund, while only fourteen years old, who succeeded to the throne. Little is known of Edmund next fourteen years. His reign was said to be that of a model king. He is said to have treated all with equal justice and was unbending to flatterers. He was said to have spent a year at his residence at Hunstanton learning the Psalter which he was able to recite from memory.

STATUE OF LADY GODIVA SEATED ON A HORSE.

Broadgate, Coventry, Midlands, CV1-1LL.

Who is this lady naked seated on a horse? which stands in front of the Lady Godiva clock tower where every hour a lady on horse back goes round for all to see and a figure comes into view above her known as `Peeping Tom`. The statue was created by Sir William Reid Dick and was unveiled at mid-day on 22nd October 1949 in Broadgate, being a gift from a Mr W. H. Bassett-Green a man of Coventry at the cost of £20,000. This would have been a small part in the rebuilding of the centre of the city after the blitz of Coventry during the Second World War where one moon lit night it was a target causing much destruction and loss of life.

Lady Godiva or Godgifu in old English was an 11th century Anglo-Saxon/English noblewoman (1010-1067?), according to a legend going back to the 13th century, she rode naked, allowing her long hair to cover her whilst riding her horse through the streets of Coventry, as a protest against her husbands oppressive taxation imposed upon his tenants, all people were obliged to close their shutters whilst she rode bye, but apparently one man peeped and would be known as `Peeping Tom`, who was struck blind by his action.

Lady Godiva was the wife of the Earl of Mercia named Leofric, they having one known son called, AElfgar. her name occurs in charters and even in the Doomsday Book, the name Godgifu or Godgyfu is an old English name meaning “gift of God”, Godiva was a popular one at the time and is the Latin version of the name.

If we have the same Godiva/Godgifu she appears in the `Liber Eliensis` which was written in the 12th century at Ely Abbey, then she was a widow when she met and married Leofric, both would become generous benefactors to religious houses, Earl Leofric endowed a Benedictine monastery in Coventry which he founded in 1043 being on the site of a nunnery which was destroyed by the Danes in 1010, Lady Godiva is credited by this in the writing of Roger of Wendover in the 12th century, and again in the 1050s they were involved in the granting of land for a monastery at Worcester called St. Mary and further a field at Stow St. Mary in Lincolnshire the endowment of the minster. They were both commemorated as benefactors of monasteries at Leominster, Chester, Much Wenlock and Evesham. She giving to Coventry a number of works made of precious metal made by Manning a famous goldsmith at that time, also bequeathing a necklace valued at a 100 marks of silver. Evesham had another one which was to be hung round the figure of the Virgin along with a life-sized gold and silver hood which the couple gave, they also gave a gold-fringed chasuble to St. Paul`s Cathedral in London and were amongst several large Anglo-Saxon/English donors who were most munificent in their giving in the last decades before the Conquest, the early Norman bishops in their grasping for treasure made short work of these gifts as they carried them back to Normandy to be reduced as bullion for themselves being no more than robbing barbarians.

The cathedral at Hereford was given the manor of Woolhope and four others from Herefordshire, this being done before the Conquest by two benefactresses named Wulviva and Godiva which is believed to be Godiva and her sister, the church at Woolhope has a 20th century stained glass window representing these two ladies.

On Earl Leofric`s death in 1057, Lady Godiva lived on until after the conquest but dying before the Domesday survey 1066-1086, being one of the few Anglo-Saxons but the only woman to be a mayor landholder after the Conquest, her lands were listed but by then others held them.

It would appear her signature appears in a charter apparently given by Thorold of Bucknall to the Benedictine monastery at Spalding, However, many historians refute this but it is possible that Thorold who appears as sheriff of Lincolnshire in the Doomsday Book was her brother.

There is a dispute on the place of her burial she was either laid to rest with her husband at Coventry or at the Blessed Trinity at Evesham who ascertain she was laid to rest there.

This event is not mentioned for two centuries afterwards, in the Flores Historiarum adapted by Roger of Wendover, many historians doubt its plausibility. So according to the legend she took pity on the people of Coventry who were under the oppressive taxation of her husband, she repeatedly appealed to her husband about this but he refused to entertain appeasement until no doubt weary of the tongue lashing, he would grant her request if she was willing to ride naked down the streets of Coventry, no doubt thinking she would baulk at the idea but not Lady Godiva if ding this meant remission of the taxes the she was willing to do this and so at a given time and date, after a proclamation that all people were to be indoors and shut their windows, she rode naked were actual, covered with her hair, or in a white shift or with no jewellery we do not know, like the Arthur legend and Robin Hood there are plenty of versions, but there was an added piece to this in the form of “Peeping Tom” who being a tailor in the town and on knowing bores a hole in a shutter to spy on the lady who is said was struck blind on doing this act, but this was an added piece which was not part of the legend until it was recorded in the 18th century and he is now commemorated in the clock tower as peeping out on the hour every hour so whether true or not it is another piece of the tapestry that creates England.

The Offa`s Dyke path is a log-distance footpath close to the England-Wales border. Although large sections are close to the Dyke itself, the path is longer, and in some places passes at some distance from the earthworks. opened in 1971, the path is one of Britain`s longest National Trails, stretching for 176 miles/283km from the Severn estuary at Sedbury, near Chepstow, to Prestatyn on the north Wales coast. there is a visitor centre at Prestatyn and at the half way mark at Knighton Bridge.

The Dyke is a large linear earthwork that roughly follows the current border between England and Wales. The structure is named after Offa the 8th century King of Mercia, who is traditionally believed to have ordered its construction. Although its precise original purpose is debated, it delineated the border between Anglian Mercia and the Welsh Kingdom of Powys.

The Dyke, which was up to 65 feet/20m wide (including its flanking ditch) and 8 feet/2.4m high, traversed low ground, hills and rivers. Today the earthwork is protected as a Scheduled Monument. Some of its route is followed by the Offa`s Dyke Path 176 miles/283km.

Although the Dyke is conventionally dated to the Early Middle Ages of Anglo-Saxon England, research in recent decades-using techniques such as radioactive carbon dating-has challenged the conventional histriogarphy and theories about the earthwork.

The generally accepted theory about much of the earthwork attributes its construction to Offa King of Mercia from 757 to 795. The structure did not represent a mutually agreed boundary between the Mercians and the Kingdom of Powys. It had a ditch on the Welsh (western) side, with the displaced soil pited into a bank on the Mercian (eastern) side. This suggests that Mercians constructed it as a defensive earthwork, or to demonstrate the power and intent of their kingdom.

Throughout its entire length, the Dyke constantly provides an uninterrupted view from Mercia into Wales, where the earthwork encounters hills or high ground, it passes to the west of them.

Augh historians often overlook Offa`s reign due to limitations in source material he ranks as one of the greatest Anglo-Saxons rulers – as evidenced in his ability to raise the work force and resources required to construct Offa`s Dyke. The construction probably involved a Convee system requiring vassals to build certain lengths of the earthwork for Offa in addition to the normal services that they provided to their king. The Tribal Hidage, a primary document shows the distribution of land within 8th- century Britain, it shows that peoples were located within specified territories for administration.

The first historians and archaeologists to examine the Dyke seriously compared their conclusions with the early 10th- century writer Asser, (a welsh bishop who was in the court of Alfred the Great) who wrote “there was in Mercia, in fairly recent time a certain vigorous king called Offa, who terrified all the neighbouring kings and provinces around him, and who had a great dyke built between Wales and Mercia from sea to sea”. In 1955 Sir Cyril Fox published the first major survey of the dyke. He concurred with Asser that the earthwork ran “from sea to sea” theorising that the Dyke ran from the River Dee estuary in the north to the River Wye in the south approximately 150 miles/240km. Although Fox observed that Offa`s Dyke was not a continuous linear structure, he concluded that earthworks were raised only in those areas where natural barriers did not already exist.

Sir Frank Stenton, the UKs most eminent 20th century scholar on Anglo-Saxon England, accepted fox`s conclusions. He wrote the introduction to fox`s account of the Dyke. Although fox`s work has now been revised to some extent, it still remains a vital record of some stretches of Offa`s Dyke that still existed between 1926 and 1928, when his three field surveys took place, but have since been destroyed.

In 1978, Dr. Frank Noble challenged some of Fox`s conclusions, stirring up new academic interest in Offa`s Dyke. Hid MPhil thesis entitled “Offa`s Dyke Reviewed” (1978) raised several questions concerning the accepted historiography of Offa`s Dyke. Noble postulated that the gaps in the Dyke were not due to the incorporation of natural features as defensive barriers, but instead the gaps were a “ridden boundary”, perhaps incorporating palisades that left no archaeological trace Noble also helped establish the Offa`s Dyke Association which maintains the Offa`s Dyke Path.

There is on going research with various ideas and conclusions, one is the use of carbon dating which ahs thrown up some interesting results, one was by Shropshire County Council who in December 1999 uncovered the remains of a hearth or fire on the original ground surface beneath Wat`s Dyke near Oswestry, carbon dating analysis of the burnt charcoal and burnt clay in situ showed it was covered by earth on or around 446 A.D. Archaeologists concluded that this part of Wat`s Dyke, so long thought of as Anglo-Saxon and a mid – 8th century contemporary of Offa`s Dyke, must have been built 300 years earlier in the Post Roman Period.

In 2014, excavations by the Clywd-Powys Archaeologist Trust focused on nine samples of the Dyke near Chirk. Radio carbon dating of re deposited turf placed the construction between the years 541 and 651 and lower levels of construction are dated as early as 430. This evidence suggests that the Dyke may have been a long-term project by several Mercian kings.

There is information on several web-sites about this whether joining a planned journey or doing it yourself, nine days seems the general time on this very interesting path with its varied scenery, going from coast to coast/estuary to estuary.

STATUE OF LADY WULFRUN & ANGLO-SAXON CROSS

St. Peter`s Collegiate Church, Lich Gates, Wolverhampton, West Midlands, WV1-1TY.

The statue of Lady Wilfrun C935-1005, founder of the city of Wolverhampton, the statue was created by the sculptor Charles Wheeler, and stands in front of the steps leading up to the West door of St. Peter`s.

Lady Wulfruna or Wulfrun which is the correct Anglo-Saxon spelling of her name, believed to be daughter of Ethelred Earldorman of Mercia and Lady Aethelflaed (eldest daughter of King Alfred the Great and Queen Ealswith)

The earliest reference to Wulfrun is in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles of 943 A.D., here it is stated that she was taken prisoner during a Viking raid at Tamworth, Staffordshire, there is no mention of her being released, but no doubt she was held hostage to be released later at a price which was the common thing to do and still happens today.

The next reference to her is in 985, in a land charter, being granted land by King Ethelred II the Unready, Wulfrun was granted 10 hides of land at Heatune. It is believed that Heantune (or high tower / high or principle enclosure or farm) later became known as Wilfun Heantune, hence the name Wolverhampton. In 994 Wulfrun gave land for the endowment of a church at a place called Heantune.

There is uncertainty about the date of her death. A reference, however, can be found in a charter to Eynsham Monastery dated 1005 which states that Wulfrun bequested land at Ramsey, being at her last breath.

In 1894 Wolverhampton Borough Council adopted the name Wulfruna, it being the Latin variation of her name.

She is believed buried at the convent in Tamworth which she founded.

having two sons, one called Elfham (Ealdorman of Northumbria) and Wilfric Spot, founder of Burton Abbey.

The Anglo-Saxon Cross attributed to the 9th Century, now located on the south side of the church. Although often said to belong to an early Mercian monastery on the site, there is no evidence of such a building. The cross is as likely to have been a preaching cross from the period before a church was built there.

The Staffordshire hoard is the largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver metalwork yet found. Being discovered in a field near the village of Hammerwich, near Lichfield, in Staffordshire, on 5th July 2009, it consists of over 3,500 items that are nearly all martial in character and contains no objects specific to female usage.
The artefacts have tentatively been dated to the 7th or 8th Centuries, placing the origin of the items in the time of the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Mercia.
The hoard has been described by Leslie Webster, former keeper of the department of prehistory at the British Museum, as “absolutely the metalwork equivalent of finding a new Lindisfarne Gospels or Book of Kells.” She stated further that “This is going to alter our perceptions of Anglo-Saxon England as radically, if not more so as the Sutton Hoo discoveries.”
Dr Roger Bland, Head of the Portable Antiquities Scheme, said, “It is a fantastically important discovery. It is assumed that the items were buried by their owners at a time of danger with the intention of later coming back and recovering them.”
Experts have produced a range of theories as to where the hoard came from and how it came to be deposited and whether the objects were made for Christians or pagans. The average quality of the workmanship is extremely high and especially remarkable in view of the large number of individual objects, such as swords or helmets, from which the elements in the hoard came.
The hoard was valued at £3,285 million and has now been purchased by the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery and the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery.

Gold artefacts were discovered by Tom Herbert on 5th July 2009, when he was metal detecting a recently ploughed field on farmland near the village of Hammerwich, over the next five days, he retrieved enough gold objects to fill 244 bags. At this point he contacted Duncan Storke, who was at the time the Finds Liason Officer for the Staffordshire and West Midlands, Portable Antiquities Scheme. Fred Johnson the landowner granted permission to continue searching the area for other finds.

The excavation work was now funded by English Heritage who had contracted Birmingham Archaeology to do the fieldwork. Ploughing had scattered the artifacts, so an area 9 x 13 metres (30 x 43 ft) was excavated because of the importance of the find, the exact site of the hoard was initially kept secret. A geophysical survey of the field discovered what could be a ditch close to the find. Although excavations revealed no dating evidence for the feature, further investigations is planned in total over 3,500 pieces was recovered. The Home Office did provide specialist equipment so to conduct a find Geophysical Survey which found no further artefacts.
The discovery was publically announced on 24th September 2009, which attracted worldwide interest. Birmingham Archaeology continued to process the find and items from the hoard were displayed at the Birmingham Museum until 13th October 2009.
The Coroner of South Staffordshire, Andrew Haigh declared the hoard to be treasure and therefore property of the crown.
As at 24th September 2009, 1,381 objects had been recovered, early analysis established that the hoard was not associated with a burial.

In late March, a team of archaeologists carried out a follow-up excavation on the site, digging 100m / 110 yds of trenches and pits in the field. Stephen Dean the Staffordshire County Archaeologist, said there there was no more gold to be recovered from the site, and the aim of the new excavation is to look for dating and environmental evidence, they were hoping to find evidence so to assertain what the landscape was like at the time of the hoard`s burial.

In December it was announced that 91 additional items of gold and silver metalwork had been found in the field, the finds were found in November when the field was ploughed archaeologist and metal detectorists worked the field. These additional pieces are believed to be a part of the original hoard.
In January 2013, 81 of the 91 items were declared treasure at a Coroner`s inquest, and, after they have been valued by the Treasure Valuation Commitee. Staffordshire County Council will have an opportunity to purchase them so they can be reunited, with the rest of the hoard, like the hoard the money raised by the sale will be halved between Herbert and Johnson as they were responsible for the original discovery of the hoard.
Ten items not declared treasure were identified as “wastage.”
Kevin Leahy of the British Museum stated that the ten items not declared as part of the original hoard may represent part of a different Anglo-Saxon period. Two of these items are of high quality pieces of copper alloy, but there are different in style to the gold and silver items of the original hoard. He concludes that “Anglo-Saxons” clearly visited the site more than once to bury items.”

The hoard consists of approximately 3,500 pieces comprising up to 5kg / 11lb of gold and 1.3kg / 2.9lb of silver and is the largest treasure of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver objects discovered to date, eclipsing, at least in quantity, the 1.5kg / 3.3lb hoard found in the Sutton Hoo burial in 1939.
Most of the items in the hoard appear to be military and there are no domestic objects, such as vessels or eating utensils, or feminine jewellery, which are the more common Anglo-Saxon gold finds. Reportedly the contents “show every sign of being carefully selected.” There is broad agreement that the typical object in the hoard was made in the 7th Century, but the date when the hoard was actually buried in some point after that of the latest object found. Debate is going on about the of some objects and this no doubt will carry on for years if not decades.
The items have been put into three categories, weaponary, crosses and gold strip.

Michael Lewis, the deputy head of the Portable Antiquities Scheme at the British Museum, notes that there are two possible reasons behind the burial of the hoard: either it was a votive deposit (an offering to the gods) or “a treasure chest that got lost, or they couldn`t come back for it.”
Lewis comments that “from my 21st Century perspective, I find it bewildering that someone could shove so much metalwork into the ground as an offering . That seemslike overkill.”
Kevin Leahy. National Finds Advisor of the Portable Antiquities Scheme, says that the quanitiy of gold is extremely impressive and that, “more importantly, the craftsmanship is consummate, this was the very best that the Anglo-Saxon metalworkers could do, and they were very good.” Leahy says that the finds must originate from the highest possible levels of the Saxon elite. He comments also that the find does not consist simply of loot, pointing out that swords were, specifically singled out, that most of the gold and silver items appear to have been intentionally removed from the objects they were previously attached to, and that, if the depositer was just after the gold, fittings from sword belts would have been discovered. Leahy also theorizes that the intention behind the removal of the gold fittings may have been to depersonalize the objects: removing the indentity of the previous owners. The blades may have been reused, Leahy observes that the hoard appears to be a collection of trophies, yet that it is impossible to say whether the hoard consists of the spoils of a single battle or is the result of a long series of successful military engagements. He says that the reason for the burial is unknown, and theorizes that the deposit “may have been tribute to heathen gods or concealed in the face of a perceived, but all too real threat, which led to it not being recovered. He also notes that further work will result in a better understanding of how the hoard came to be buried. Leahy points out that the find includes dozens of pommel caps – decorative attachments to sword handles – and that Beowulf contains a reference to warriors stripping the pommels of their enemies swords.
Nicholas Brooks has suggested that the hoard may have belonged to the Mercian court armourer. He theorizes that under the system of heriot (death duty), the Mercian king would have received weapons and gold bullion from Anglo-Saxon nobles at their death, and that the Mercian court would have distributed these weapons to men who came into its service. Brooks takes the absence of strap-ends, strap attachments and buckles in the hoard to indicate that the weapons were broken down into their constituent parts , and that the different parts of the weapons were the responsibility of different offices: the court leather-worker would have been responsible for providing those entering Mercian service with adorned belts and harnesses, whereas the court armourer would only have been responsible for metal objects such as the hilts collars, hilt plates and pommel caps that make up the majority of pieces in the hoard.

The area of Staffordshire where the hoard was found was part of the Kingdom of Mercia in the 7th and 8th Centuries, an era for which contemporary written texts are scant, aside from the writings of Bede, whose Ecclesiasitical History, finished in 731, was written from the Christian perspective of a monk in Northumbria Bede, moreover, appears to have had no contacts in Mercia. Archaeology is called into to play to supplement the terse written sources regarding the missing cultural history.
The site of the discovery, at Johnson`s farm near Brownhills, is immediately south of Watling Street, and only 2.5miles / 4km west of the important Roman staging post of Letocetum. Watling Street was a major Roman road that would have been seen continued use in the Anglo-Saxon period, and it acted as the demarcation line between the Anglo-Saxon and Danish – ruled parts of England during the 9th Century. The hoard has been specutatively connected with King Edwin of Northumbria.
Michael Lewis`s view is that attempting to link the hoard to a particular individual is not realistic. He notes that, during the period from which the hoard dates, some rulers from Mercia are well known including Penda and Offa. Penda ruled slightly before the period of the hoard, and “Offa” is right at the end, so it has to be someone in the middle. Moreover, the historical record of the period shows a dependency on Bede, who wrote from a Christian perspective, yet the Mercians at the time were likely pagans, and therefore “could have been overlooked by Bede even though they might have been important, because he wasn`t interested in them for whatever reason.” Lewis comments that the hoard will assist in looking back at literary sources and historical figures with more scrutiny.

On 25th September 2009, the hoard was valued by the Treasure Valuation Commitee at £3.285 million, which, under the provisions of the 1996 Treasure Act, is the sum that must be paid as a reward to the finder and landowner, to be shared equally, by any museum that wishes to acquire the hoard.
After the hoard was valued, it was announced that the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery and the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery intended to jointly acquire the entire hoard and a public appeal was launched to raise the £3.285 million needed to purchase the hoard. The Act Fund co-ordinated the appeal, if the sum had not been raised by 17th April 2010, the hoard might have been sold on the open market and the unique collection permanently broken up.
However, on 23rd March 2010 it was announced that the sum had been raised three weeks before the deadline, after a grant of £1.285 million from the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) was added to the money already collected from individuals, councils, and other groups and associations. Although the purchase price has been achieved, the Art Fund appeal is still continueing, in order to raise a further £1.7 million to help fund the conservation, stdy and display of the hoard.
Terry Herbert, the finder of the hoard, and Fred Johnson, the farmer on whose land the hoard was found, each received a half share of the £3.285 million raised by Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery and the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery. A feud later ensued between the two men.

There are four places where parts of the hoard are exhibited, they are Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, Potteries Museum & Art Gallery. Lichfield Cathedral and finally Tamworth Castle.

BIRMINGHAM MUSEUM & ART GALLERY

Chamberlain Squire, Birmingham, B3-3DH.

Telephone: +44 (0) 121 348 8007

HISTORY OF ANGLO-SAXON BIRMINGHAM

Birmingham lies on the borderland of the territory of the Angles and the Saxons, Anglican had settled the Midlands from the east following the valleys of the Rivers Trent and Tame. Pagan burials in Anglian style excavated at Baginton near Coventry have been dated as early as 500 A.D. The Kingdom of Mercia was founded by Anglians c585, and by the 7th Century stretched south of the River Humber and west of the River Trent to the west Midlands with its capital was at Tamworth. Mercia expanded under King Penda and by the 8th Century Offa rules all of England south of the Humber between Wales and East Anglia. His coins proclaimed him ‘Rex Anglorum’ Latin for king of the English: in 873 Mercia fell to the Danes.

Anglians may have settled first along the Birmingham sandstone ridge which runs from Bromsgrove to Lichfield, or on the pebble lands to the west of it. There may have been then thin woodland of birch and hazel here or the land may have been cleared by earlier peoples and reverted to light cover of gorse, broom and heather. Although not especially fertile and poor at retaining water, the land would have been fairly easy to clear and plough. Anglian settlements in the area may have been

The Celts of modern Gloucester, Hereford and Worcester held out the longest against the Saxons but Suffered final defeat at the hands of the West Saxons at the Battle of Dytham in Gloucetershire in 577. This allowed the West Saxon people known as the Hwicce (pronounced Whichee) to more northwards up the River Severn and Avon and to establish the Hwiccan Kingdom with its capital at Worcester. Archaeological evidence suggests sparse Saxon settlement and it is likely that the population here was predominantly Celtic. The Hwicce were conquered by c628 A.D., probably by the Mercian King Penda and the kingdom subsequently administered as a separate unit under the aegis Mercia.

Covering much of the clay lands of the south and east of the Birmingham area was the Forest of Arden which stretched down towards Strafford-upon-Avon. The extent of clearance and agricultural use by the Celts at the end of the Roman period is not known. However, the earliest Hwiccan Saxons would have farmed first on sites where glacial gravel drifts on top of the sticky clay made clearing and ploughing easier. Early Saxon settlements on clay lands are on patches of drift: Acocks Green, Greet, King Norton, Lea Village, Mosely, Northfield, Selly, Tyseley, Yardley for example. Slowly would they have begun to expand into the more difficult clay lands to make new settlement. Saxons territory in Birmingham was later to become part of Worcestershire.

By the time of the French/Norman Conquest of 1066 there were many hamlets, tiny villages scattered round the Birmingham area. Birmingham was one of the poorer manors with probably less than fifty inhabitants. There were few plough teams and few mills in the area. As the population grew during the 10th and 11th Centuries new settlements were founded as offshoots of the original village. Newer settlements were on heavier clay soil and had woodland to be cleared.

The name Birmingham derives from Beorma-ing-ham translates from the Old English as ‘Beorma’s people’s village’. These people may have been followers of a man called Beorma (pronounced Berma) but were more likely, a tribe or clan called the Beormings. ‘Beormas people’. They were an Anglian people moving southwards following the River Trent and then the Tame to settle the lighter soils of the Birmingham ridge. It is possible that a leader called Beorma founded a settlement here, but equally likely that it was founded by a people named after him. The city’s name is probably best interpreted as ‘the village of the Beormings’.

The name developed in two different ways which are reflected in early spellings. Until the wide spread use of the printing press. Spelling was very inconsistent. But it did represent the way peoples’ pronounciation, the biggest one on this was it Birm or Brum at the beginning of the word Birmingham. Thre is a list of the changing names of Birmingham from the 11th – 17th Century.

It has sometimes been suggested that the village grew up at the crossing of the River Rea between Digbeth and Dentend. The crossing of the river might make a good place for trade. However, this was a low-lying site that was always prone to flooding until the river was culverted at the beginning of the last century (20th), it is not a likely spot for a settlement. It has also been long assumed that the Anglo-Saxon settlement was around the Bull Ring. From Medieval times roads from the west converged on the Bull Ring bringing traders from Lichfield, Stafford, Wolverhampton, Dudley, Halesowen and Worcester, and from the east travellers from Coleshill, Coventry, Warwick, Stafford and Alcester.

Excavations in advance of the new Bull Ring shopping centre found evidence of a Roman farm and plenty of Medieval traces of boundary banks, ditches and houses, cattle and a variety of industries.

However, there is no evidence of Anglo-Saxon settlement, but this does not mean there was no Anglo-Saxon village here evidence would be scarce over a such a wide area especially as buildings etc were built of wood or the settlement could be elsewhere.

The climate gradually warmed up to c1000 A.D., and the early Medieval Warm Period lasted for two centuries. It was partly responsible for the expansion of the Vikings in that area once under the ice such as Greenland and Iceland were now open to settlement . Even North America was accessible.

From the 790s A.D., small Vikings armies began to make annual raids on Britain. After 870 the Viking Great Army was resident in England and during the summer month moved around the country at will. By the 870 England was divided along Watling Street (A5) north and east of which was the Danelaw, south and west of which was English Wessex and Mercia.

There is no known evidence in Birmingham. However, on two occasions the Viking Great Army is known to have passed nearby, travelling from Shoeburyness in Essex to Buttington in Shropshire in 893, and from the River Lea north of London to Bridgenorth in Shropshire in 895. Their route very likely took them along Watling Street the modern A5 which passes through Fazeley near Tamworth.

The museum has a dedicated gallery to house part of the hoard.

open all the week (7) from 1000hrs to 1700hrs,
except Friday when it is opened at 1030hrs.
closed Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, open New Years Day 1100 – 1600hrs.

This is free, but donations are very welcome.

Call +44 (0) 121 348 8997
To book guided, group and school tours.

This is catered for, plus there are wheelchairs available.

There is a cafe`and a shop within the museum.

TRAINS
Short walking distance from Moor Street, New Street, and Snow Hill stations.

`BUS
Accessible by almost every `bus route.

CAR
no parking at the museum, but can park nearby & blue badge.

Tel Birmingham tourist info centre on 0844 888 3883.

THE POTTERIES MUSEUM & ART GALLERY

Bethesda Street, Cultural Quarter, Stoke-On-Trent, Staffordshire, ST1-3DW.

Telephone: +44 (0) 1782 232 323

The museum has a dedicated area of a raised wooden-floored mead hall, with columns and banners adorned with Anglo-Saxon artwork, representing ancient designs on the Hoard artefects, along with a replica fire pit and king`s chair, the museum exhibited set pieces from the world famous Hoard.
The thought provoking artworks inspired by the mystery of the Hoard are also on display, including a specially commissioned animated film. `The Last Dragon-Hunter.`

OPENING TIMES
Open all week (7) from 1000 – 1700hrs, Sunday 1100 – 1600hrs,
closed Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Years Day 1100 – 1600hrs.

ADMISSION FEE
This is free, but donations are very welcome.

EXCLUSIVE TOURS
Call +44 (0) 1782 232323 to book guided, group and school tours.

DISABLED ACCESS
This is catered for and wheelchairs are available.

There is a cafe` and shop within the museum.

TRAIN
Stoke-on -Trent station, on the West coast mainline.

`BUS
no information at the moment.

CAR
There are car-parks not far from the museum.

Tourist info centre +44 (0) 1782 126000.

19a The Close, Lichfield, Staffordshire, WS13-7LD.

Telephone : +44 (0) 1543 306 100

There is a permanent display of items from the Hoard.

The origins of Lichfield Cathedral are rooted in the in time scholars believe the Hoard was buried. Discover the Lichfield Cathedral story – learn about the `Christianisation`of Mercia and the heroic figure of St. Chad. Marvel at the Anglo-Saxon treasures, the St. Chad Gospel`s and the Lichfield Angel. The exhibition also explores the significance of the Staffordshire Hoard`s folded cross, the pectural cross and the biblical inscription and features a small number of Hoard items alongside stunning replicas.

OPENING TIMES
open all week (7) from 1000 – 1600hrs
Saturday from 0900 – 1600hrs
Sunday from 1200 – 1500hrs

ADMISSION FEE
This is free, but donations are very welcome.
But please note in the exceptionally rare circumstance that the exhibition cannot be open and may have to close the Chapter House at short notice.
Important please call before coming to visit.

EXCLUSIVE TOURS
A number of tours are available that highlight the Cathedral`s Anglo-Saxon heritage and treasures. To find out more about the tours, call 01543 306100.

DISABLED ACCESS
This is catered for.

REFRESHMENTS
Chapters coffee shop & restaurant in the close, which is in front of the cathedral.
Open Monday – Saturday 0900 – 1700hrs
open Sunday 1000 – 1600hrs.

GIFT SHOP
There is a gift shop within the cathedral and a bookshop in the close in the Chapter House.

TRAINS
Regular service every twenty minutes from Birmingham New Street station.
The station is the otherside of the town centre.

CAR
There is a small amount of parking around the cathedral, otherwise there is plenty in the town centre.

The Holloway, Tamworth, Staffordshire, B79-7NA.

Telephone: 01827 709 626 or 01827 709 629

There is a permanent display of items from the Staffordshire Hoard at Tamworth Castle.
As the ancient capital at Mercia and once home to the King of Mercia`s palace.
Tamworth`s history is crammed with stories of intrique and warfare.
Explore our exihibition on Saxon Tamworth, which features information on the life of a Saxon soldier, the power struggles and warfare, town life and the ancient watermill, and Aethelflaed, lady of the Mercians.
Artefacts are brought to life with stunning replica weapons, armour and lots of hands-on activities and period costumes for young and old to try.

Summer opening: April – October
Tuesday – Sunday 1130 – 1645hrs last admin 1600hrs.

Winter opening: October – April
Saturday & Sunday 1130 – 1545hrs last admin 1500hrs.

Open on extra days for Staffordshire school holidays and bank holidays, please phone before coming.

ADMISSION FEE
Adult £7-00
Child +5 £4.50p
Child 2-4 £1.50p
OAP / Concession £6-00

Fee for special events and bank holiday may vary.

DISABLED ACCESS
There is provision but please phone 01827 709626 to make sure what is accessable.

REFRESHMENTS
Small cafe` selling refreshments.

GIFT SHOP
There is a gift shop.

TRAIN
Tamworth station 10 minutes walk approx.

CAR
There are plenty of parking in Tamworth town centre, sat-nav B79-7NA.

Beaumont Street, Oxford, Oxfordshire, OX1 2PH.

Tel – 01865 278000, for general enquiries.

Anglo- Saxon Artifacts are at – Level 2, `West Meets East`, 400 – 1100A.D.

The Ashmolean has one of the best collections of Anglo-Saxon material in the country outside of the British Museum and one of its treasures the `Alfred Jewel`, dating from the 9th century. it was found in 1693 at Newton Park, Somerset and was bequethed to the museum by Nathaniel Palmer in 1718. its purpose is believed to be a pointer, an implement used to follow text.
Inthe fourth century, Pictish, Scottish, Frankish and Scandinvian raiders from outside the Roman Empire, became a threat to the authorities of Britain and Gaul during the fourth century. Britain was invaded regularly by Picts from what is now Scotland, Caledonia in Roman times and Scots from Ireland, as well as Germanic people from across the channel. A British monk called Gildas wrote `The Ruin of Britain` around 540, in which he describes the evils happening to Britain in the most violent languages. A second monk, The Venerable Bede, from the Northumbrian monastery of Jarrow, completed his `Ecclesiastical History of the English People`in 731. These two works describe the terrors the invasion by these Angles, Saxons and Jutes caused, and were very probably biased in their opinions and can only by glimpsed through the eyes of the hostile native British.
The fifth and sixth centuries have sometimes been referred to as the `Dark Ages`. It was always believed that the Anglo-Saxon invaded the eastern shores of Britain, slaying the native people. We now know that these people were probably invited to settle on the estates set up by the Romans, West Stow in Suffolk is probably such a site, this settlement was constructed on an already established Roman estate.
The dating evidence for the Anglo-Saxon period is mostly archaeological and comes mainly from excavated pagan cemeteries, when the bodies were dressed in their best clothes and buried wearing the jewellery, such as `Faversham` in Kent. Cremations also took place, the cremated bones and sometimes melted objects such as tweezers and beads were then placed in urns, sometimes plain, but often beautifully decorated and burnished, such as at `Santon` in Yorkshire.
England achieved a great deal in the last years of the Anglo-axon period. English coinage was the major trading currency in Northern Europe, stone churches replaced wooden structures, cathedrals were starting to be constructed, the economy thrived. The beginnings of the settlements and parish system began and is still with us today. The Anglo-Saxon period ended in A.D. 1066 with the defeat of King Harold the last crowned king of the English at the Battle of Hastings by the Normans.
The Ashmolean holds a rich collection of Anglo-Saxon objects, including the following examples.

Early seventh century blue glass bowl, fond at Cuddesdon in Oxfordshire.

Gold and garnet cross pendant from Holderness in East Yorkshire.

A range of artefacts including beads, pin, knives, brooches and spearheads from the early Anglo-Saxon cemetery at Fairford in Gloucestershire.

Jewelled brooches and other artefacts from an Anglo-Saxon inhumation cemetery found at King`s Field in Faversham, Kent.

The Crondall Bowl contained over a 100 pieces and was buried sometime before A.D. 650. It is the most important evidence for the start of English coinage.

This decorated bowl is part of a large collection of urns and other artefacts from the large early Anglo-Saxon cremation cemetery at Sancton in Yorkshire.

A gold bracteate found at St. Giles Field, Oxford sometime before 1677.

Very fine example of a late Anglo-Saxon sword found at Abingdon in Oxfordshire.

Tuesday – Sunday + Bank holiday Monday 10.00 – 17.00hrs
Closed on Monday.

Admission is free. but, exhibitions have a charge.

The disabled have been catered for in the Museum.

Ashmolean Cafe
Open Tuesday – Sunday 10.00 – 16.30hrs
and is open on Bank Holiday Monday.

Ashmolean dining room
Open Tues, Wed, Thurs & Sunday 10.00 – 16.30hrs
Friday – Saturday 10.00 – 20.00hrs

For more information at. www.ashmolean.org/eating/

Tuesday – Sunday 10.00 – 17.00hrs
open Bank Holiday Monday.

The bus station is approximately 5 minutes walk from the Museum.

Tel 01865 785400 for bus information.
open 08.00 – 20.00hrs Mon – Fri.
09.00 – 18.00hrs Sat – Sun.

Oxford station is about 10 minutes walk from the Museum.

Tel 08547 000 125 First Great Western for information on the train service.

Parking is limited in the city, there is a park and ride service, which has a frequent link with 5 car-parks adjacent to the ring road.

Gloucester Green car-park OX1 2BN pay & display underground.

Worcester Street car-park OX1 2BN pay & display.

Disabled parking.
There are 9 designated disabled parking spaces within easy reach of the Museum, 3 directly outside the Museum, 3 more opposite the Museum close to the Randolph hotel, 2 spaces on St. Giles and 1 space on St. John`s Street.

History The Watlington area is likely to have been settled at an early age encouraged by the proximity of the Icknield Way. The toponym means “settlement of the Waecel`s people” and indicates occupation from around the 6th century. A 9th century charter by Aethelred of Mercia records eight “manses” or major dwellings in Watlington. The Doomsday Book of 1086 identified the area as an agricultural community valued at £610-. Medieval documents indicate that the modern street plan was in existence in the 14th century, if not earlier.


Historical background [ edit | edit source ]

Folded panel from a cross, with interlace

The area of Staffordshire where the hoard was found was part of the kingdom of Mercia in the 7th and 8th centuries, an era for which contemporary written texts are scant, aside from the writings of Bede, whose Ecclesiastical History, finished in 731, was written from the Christian perspective of a monk in Northumbria Bede, moreover, appears to have had no contacts in Mercia. ⎪] Archaeology and written sources are used to gather information regarding the missing cultural history.

The site of the discovery, at Johnsons Farm near Brownhills, is immediately south of Watling Street, and only 2.5 miles (4.0 km) west of the important Roman staging post of Letocetum. Watling Street was a major Roman road that would have seen continued use in the Anglo-Saxon period, and it acted as the demarcation line between the Anglo-Saxon and Danish-ruled parts of England during the 9th century. The hoard has been speculatively connected with king Edwin of Northumbria (d. 632/633). ⎫]

Michael Lewis's view is that attempting to link the hoard to a particular individual is not realistic. He notes that, during the period from which the hoard dates, some rulers from Mercia are well known, including Penda and Offa. Penda ruled slightly before the period of the hoard, and "Offa is right at the end, so it has to be someone in the middle." Moreover, the historical record for the period shows a dependency on Bede, who wrote from a Christian perspective, yet the Mercians at the time were likely pagans, and therefore "could have been overlooked by Bede even though they might have been important, because he wasn't interested in them—-for whatever reason." Lewis comments that the hoard will assist in looking back at literary sources and historical figures with more scrutiny. ⎧]


GOLD! September 23, 2009 10:32 PM Subscribe

Mr Herbert, who has been metal detecting for 18 years, came across the buried hoard in July after asking a farmer friend if he could search on his land. He said: "I have this phrase that I say sometimes 'spirits of yesteryear take me where the coins appear', but on that day I changed coins to gold. I don't know why I said it that day, but I think somebody was listening and directed me to it."

Experts said the collection of more than 1,500 pieces - which will be officially classified by a coroner as treasure - is unparalleled in size and may have belonged to Saxon royalty. The hoard, believed to date back to the Seventh Century, contains around 5kg of Gold and 2.5kg of silver, far bigger than previous finds - including the Sutton Hoo burial site.

The National Council for Metal Detecting describes a treasure as "any object that would previously have been treasure trove. Only objects that are less than 300 years old, that are made substantially of gold or silver, that have been deliberately hidden with the intention of recovery and whose owners or heirs are unknown will come into this category." A quick overview of previous hoards, as well as a quick reference guide to Anglo Saxon coinage)

*stands corrected, takes back every snide thing he has ever said about owners of metal detectors*


posted by EatTheWeak at 10:41 PM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

The dude actually found treasure!

And all without fighting a single Wight or Wraith. Nicely done!
posted by dersins at 10:57 PM on September 23, 2009 [17 favorites]

I was invested in mother-earth, the crypt of roots and endings. Child’s-play. I abode there, bided my time: where the mole

shouldered the clogged wheel, his gold solidus where dry-dust badgers thronged the Roman flues, the long-unlooked-for mansions of our tribe.

. . . buried by Dick Cheney, otherwise known as "Grendel." I kid, I kid. Grendel is just misunderstood.

Seriously though, this is amazing--stuff like this really does redefine our understanding of Anglo-Saxon history--there's really so little left, artifacts like this are inconceivably valuable. And the craftsmen were so talented . . . gorgeous stuff.
posted by exlotuseater at 11:39 PM on September 23, 2009

Wait, coroners are responsible for treasure classifications?

Doesn't that seem somehow outside the general area of expertise?
posted by alight at 11:42 PM on September 23, 2009 [2 favorites]

In cases like this, who owns the gold and treasure? How is the financial worth of the find divided between the "metal detectorist" and the land owner?

In most countries, they get absolutely nothing. The find becomes property of the government "for historical and posterity reasons" and the finder and the landowner get squat.

In my own country, Canada, we don't even technically own the oil or minerals under our feet. I can't remember the depth a landowner actually owns, but I remember it was not very much.
posted by Kickstart70 at 11:44 PM on September 23, 2009

Wait, coroners are responsible for treasure classifications?

Abiezer, thanks for the etymology- that does help explain it. But I still maintain that the average coroner wouldn't know a hoard from a trove.
posted by alight at 12:00 AM on September 24, 2009 [3 favorites]

THE HOARD WILL NOT BE DECLARED TREASURE UNTIL AFTER THE INQUEST AT 10AM

The Staffordshire Hoard is an unparalleled treasure find dating from Anglo-Saxon times. Both the quality and quantity of this unique treasure are remarkable. The story of how it came to be left in the Staffordshire soil is likely to be more remarkable still.

The Hoard was first discovered in July 2009. The find is likely to spark decades of debate among archaeologists, historians and enthusiasts.

Leslie Webster, Former Keeper, Department of Prehistory and Europe, British Museum, has already said:

This is going to alter our perceptions of Anglo-Saxon England… as radically, if not more so, as the Sutton Hoo discoveries. Absolutely the equivalent of finding a new Lindisfarne Gospels or Book of Kells.

The Hoard comprises in excess 1,500 individual items. Most are gold, although some are silver. Many are decorated with precious stones. The quality of the craftsmanship displayed on many items is supreme, indicating possible royal ownership.

Stylistically most items appear to date from the seventh century, although there is already debate among experts about when the Hoard first entered the ground.

This was a period of great turmoil. England did not yet exist. A number of kingdoms with tribal loyalties vied with each other in a state of semi-perpetual warfare, with the balance of power constantly ebbing and flowing.

England was also split along religious lines. Christianity, introduced during the Roman occupation then driven to near extinction, was once again the principal religion across most of England

The exact spot where the Hoard lay hidden for a millennium and a half cannot yet be revealed. However we can say that it lay at the heart of the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Mercia. There is approximately 5 kg of gold and 1.3 kg of silver (Sutton Hoo had 1.66kg of gold).

The hoard was reported to Duncan Slarke, Finds Liaison Officer with the Portable Antiquities Scheme. With the assistance of the finder, the find-spot has been excavated by archaeologists from Staffordshire County Council, lead by Ian Wykes and Steven Dean, and a team from Birmingham Archaeology, project managed by Bob Burrows and funded by English Heritage. The hoard has been examined at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery by Dr Kevin Leahy, National Finds Adviser with the Portable Antiquities Scheme.

The Coroner for South Staffordshire, Andrew Haigh, is today (24th September 2009) holding an inquest on the find to decide whether it is treasure under the Treasure Act 1996. If it is declared treasure, the find becomes the property of the Crown, and museums will have the opportunity to acquire it after it has been valued by the Treasure Valuation Committee. The Committee’s remit is to value all treasure finds at their full market value and the finder and landowner will divide the reward between them. Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery in Stoke-on-Trent, and Staffordshire County Council wish to preserve the find for the West Midlands.

The Hoard is remarkable for the extraordinary quantity of pommel caps and hilt plates. There have been 84 pommel caps and 71 sword hilt collars so far identified. These highly decorated items would have adorned a sword or seax – a short sword/knife. Most are of gold and many are beautifully inlaid with garnets. Such elaborate and expensive decoration would have marked out the weapon as the property of the highest echelons of nobility. The discovery of a single sword fitting is a notable event: to find so many together is absolutely unprecedented.

Parts from several highly decorated helmets are likely to be among the finds, although piecing these together is likely to take considerable time and effort. Among the most conspicuous is what appears to be a magnificently decorated cheek-piece decorated with a frieze of running, interlaced, animals. Interestingly, this piece has a relatively low gold content. This may be the result of being specially alloyed to make it more functional and able to withstand blows.

A beautiful figure of an animal is also possibly the crest of a helmet. Large numbers of fragments of "C" sectioned silver edging and reeded strips could also be helmet fittings. Similar fragments, made from base metal, formed part of the Sutton Hoo helmet, found in a rich grave in Suffolk, in 1939.

A strip of gold bearing a Biblical inscription in Latin is one of the most significant and controversial finds. Michelle Brown, Professor of Medieval Manuscript Studies, has suggested the style of lettering dates from the seventh or early eighth centuries. The relatively crude lettering may have been the work of someone more used to writing on wax tablets.

The suitably warlike inscription, mis-spelt in places, is probably from the Book of Numbers Ch. 10 v 35 and reads:

Surge domine et dissipentur inimici tui et fugiant qui oderunt te a facie tua

"Rise up, o Lord, and may thy enemies be dispersed and those who hate thee be driven from thy face"

The only items that are clearly non-martial are two, or possibly three, crosses. The largest may have been an altar or processional cross. Other than the loss of the settings used to decorate it (some of which are present but detached) it is intact. However it has been folded, possibly to make it fit into a small space prior to burial. This lack of apparent respect shown to this Christian symbol may point to the Hoard being buried by pagans, but Christians were also quite capable of despoiling each other’s shrines.
posted by ursus_comiter at 12:40 AM on September 24, 2009 [18 favorites]

Blazecock Pileon: Reminded me of Roald Dahl's story about the Mildenhall Treasure.

yeah, I remember reading that. A very touching true story, heres a plot summary online (spoilers): In the afternoon, there was a sudden jolt and the wooden peg that held the plow to the tractor snapped.
posted by memebake at 12:40 AM on September 24, 2009

I kind of feel bad that I want this to be magical treasure that turns the finders into zombies or vampires or whatever and unleashes an ancient nameless evil upon the unsuspecting villagers who were foolish enough to dig too deeply into that foul demense reflected within each of us.

Or something.
posted by Avenger at 12:47 AM on September 24, 2009

"In cases like this, who owns the gold and treasure? How is the financial worth of the find divided between the "metal detectorist" and the land owner?" -- Auden

Poking around among the links posted, it looks like the landowner and the detectorist have agreed to a 50/50 split. The valuation seems to be determined by a "valuation committee" which pays the value to the landowner and the finder, at which point ownership of the treasure passes to "the museum" (not sure what that refers to -- The British Museum?).
posted by Hello Dad, I'm in Jail at 12:49 AM on September 24, 2009 [2 favorites]

If you go to the British Museum there's entire aisles of hoards displayed along with a little story about the discoverer - in one case a 9 yr old girl for example. The Sutton hoo site objects are there as well as many others. I expect this will end up as just another display in a long aisle of displays.

Sort of makes me think of the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. The British Museum has so much that this will just be another crate shipped in and possibly displayed in a dusty corner.
posted by vacapinta at 12:55 AM on September 24, 2009

If a find is considered of national importance, it will be offered to the British Museum. If not, and it's considered of archaeological importance, it will be offered to the registered local museum for the region.

I've summarised that from the Treasure Act 1996 Code of Practice, available here.
posted by ursus_comiter at 1:02 AM on September 24, 2009

This thread is useless without picts.

he's probably still rolling around in it naked.
posted by sexyrobot at 1:24 AM on September 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

Great story. Are there other examples of amateurs with metal detectors making great finds?

Seems to happen reasonably regularly in the UK. In my home country of Australia they turn up giant nuggets of gold instead (less historically interesting, but still rewarding for the finder).

In most countries, they get absolutely nothing. The find becomes property of the government "for historical and posterity reasons" and the finder and the landowner get squat.

Sounds like a way of guaranteeing that these things will never be found - officially, at least. Imagine if this hoard had ended up on the black market.
posted by rory at 2:02 AM on September 24, 2009

The UK treasure laws do help reduce nighthawking. There's been a good deal of effort via the Portable Antiquities Scheme as well to get detectorists and archaeologists working together, although there are still incidents.

The site I was digging on this summer had spot of trouble over one weekend when the site director was passing by and saw a couple of men with metal detectors climbing over the wall from the paddock where we had a trench. He asked them what did they think they were doing, and they told him they had permission from the site director. They then ran away when he informed them that, in fact, HE was the site director. Such incidents highlight why there is still a good bit of animosity between the two groups, despite a lot of outreach and lots of good results from team ups between detectorists and archaeologists.
posted by ursus_comiter at 2:13 AM on September 24, 2009

The British Museum has so much that this will just be another crate shipped in and possibly displayed in a dusty corner.

Doubtful that a hoard this large would end up as anything less than a major display, even in the British Museum, but that's a good argument for it staying in Staffordshire, where it could draw people from all over the world to the nearest city museum.
posted by rory at 2:15 AM on September 24, 2009

The flickr slideshow is excellent.

Pity they're not geotagged.
posted by johnny novak at 2:43 AM on September 24, 2009

That flickr gallery is amazing. There's just so much of it, and it's good quality stuff. There was a fair amount of upset in Mercia in the mid-600s, so maybe it's connected to that? Either way, once it's all restored and sorted out, it will be a fantastic thing to see. There are also quite a lot of "strips", maybe they are parts of something larger which has disintegrated, and it will be interesting to see what they make of them.

The British Museum has so much that this will just be another crate shipped in and possibly displayed in a dusty corner.

Doubtful that a hoard this large would end up as anything less than a major display, even in the British Museum, but that's a good argument for it staying in Staffordshire, where it could draw people from all over the world to the nearest city museum.

I expect that if the treasure goes to the British Museum, there will be a big fuss. I think the times when everything got shipped to London by default is past. At least, I hope so.
posted by Sova at 3:27 AM on September 24, 2009

Imagine if this hoard had ended up on the black market.

Wait, you mean they can't just send it in to cash4saxongold.com??
posted by Avelwood at 3:35 AM on September 24, 2009 [12 favorites]

Dude, wait. I left a whole bunch of stuff in a field in Staffordshire. In uh, April I think. Or May. About 5kg of gold and 1.3kg of silver? Lots of crosses and uh, marital stuff?

Yeah, that shit's mine. Definitely. My stuff.
posted by PlusDistance at 3:55 AM on September 24, 2009 [2 favorites]

"This thread is useless without picts."

PICTS OR GTFO
posted by Eideteker at 4:40 AM on September 24, 2009

I hope he stopped digging early and hasn't fucked too much up.

Considering that, just by weight, 5 kg of gold is worth over $160,000, this seems an utterly misplaced snark. It takes a ridiculously honest, consciencious person even to declare having found such a hoard.
posted by Skeptic at 5:08 AM on September 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

This is unbeleivably exciting. I don't think anything could compare to the feeling this person must have felt as he started digging. This changes history.

Great story. Are there other examples of amateurs with metal detectors making great finds?

The Middleham jewel was, until today, probably my favourite UK find. Discovered by Ted Seaton in 1985. Later sold for £2.5m.
posted by fire&wings at 5:10 AM on September 24, 2009 [2 favorites]

I expect that if the treasure goes to the British Museum, there will be a big fuss. I think the times when everything got shipped to London by default is past. At least, I hope so.
posted by Sova at 11:27 AM

Now that you mention it, this just in:

Thu, 08/27/2009 - 20:50

The vessel being unpacked.
[The Viking vessel being unpacked by conservators at the British Museum, about 1/2 way down. Copyright the Trustees of the British Museum]

An important Viking hoard of jewels and coins unearthed in England by a father-and-son team of treasure hunters in 2007 has been acquired by the British Museum and the Yorkshire Museum in York. It will go on display next month. The Vale of York hoard - previously known as the Harrogate hoard - is valued at 1.1 million pounds ($1.8 million) and is at least 1,000 years old. It includes objects from Afghanistan, Ireland, Russia and Scandinavia, underlining the global spread of cultural contacts during medieval times.
posted by vacapinta at 5:17 AM on September 24, 2009

Obviously these items were buried because the people acknowledged that swords are no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses. The days of exploiting the workers by hanging on to outdated imperialist dogma which perpetuates the economic and social differences in our society were finished!

I'm always dropping hints to my wife about moving to Europe, proselytizing the architecture and culture, but really, I'm just bitter about the lack of 8th century artifacts in Tallahassee. and that other stuff, too.
posted by empyrean at 5:54 AM on September 24, 2009 [3 favorites]

I think they're all fake - just look at the pics, all this fakey "celtic" designs on them and stuff -

Do give him props for makin' lots of em and then buryin' 'em in the dirt, though.
posted by From Bklyn at 6:06 AM on September 24, 2009

I always wanted to find a treasure. I guess I'm more bitter about that than I realized. Good on him.
posted by From Bklyn at 6:11 AM on September 24, 2009

Considering that, just by weight, 5 kg of gold is worth over $160,000, this seems an utterly misplaced snark. It takes a ridiculously honest, consciencious person even to declare having found such a hoard.

That's not snark at all, just an honest hope that he hasn't done serious damage to an archaeological site. When you find something like that, the right thing to do is to leave it alone and report it. Treat it like you've found a body -- you don't snatch the jewelry and run off, you step back and call in the experts.
posted by pracowity at 6:15 AM on September 24, 2009

I'm just bitter about the lack of 8th century artifacts in Tallahassee. and that other stuff, too.

There's only a lack of 8th century eastern hemisphere cultural artifacts in Tallahassee, but look no farther than its name for reminents of its ancient past! That said, keep looking!
posted by Pollomacho at 6:19 AM on September 24, 2009

Pracowity, the hoard was probably found in a field that's been under plough for centuries. There's not likely to have been a lot of archaeological context worth bothering with other than the existence of the hoard itself and its location, which I'm sure the detectorist recorded quite adequately.

From the hoard site Q&A:
The site has been thoroughly examined using specialist equipment provided by the Home Office and with support from the police’s Tactical Planning Unit, Staffordshire county council and Birmingham Archaeology. The site is now considered sterile, meaning experts are satisfied every item able to be recovered from the immediate area has now been found it is now being monitored by the police.

I read that as saying that the site was gone over thoroughly with not just metal detectors, but probably also with various types of geophysics equipment that would have located any sort of foundations, ditches, etc. I wouldn't have expected any such things to show up, as hoards of that size really do tend to have actually been hoards. Someone, centuries ago, had gotten a bunch of loot somehow and they hid it until they could recover it later. But they never came back. So, it's all just a bunch of baubles in a hole in the ground.

To me, the context of the location would be the interesting bit - whether it's near any known Anglo-Saxon era occupations, roads or waterways. That information isn't going to be made available for some time though, I expect.
posted by ursus_comiter at 6:48 AM on September 24, 2009

Ernest P. Worrel, "Ernest Rides Again."
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:06 AM on September 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

the hoard was probably found in a field that's been under plough for centuries.

I'm sure you're right, but if the gold was still all in one spot and no one has been turning up bits of it over the years, there's a chance that it was buried below the reach of the ploughs. You never know what else you might find -- maybe absolutely nothing, but maybe some old organic material (documents, fabrics, animal and plant matter, etc.) that might not look like much more than dust to an excited pot hunter with his eye on a heap of gold. Was it under someone's floor? Under a certain rock? Was it just dumped like a safe deposit box or was anything ceremonial involved?
posted by pracowity at 7:11 AM on September 24, 2009

Look past the squawking gull
Look past the volleyball
Ignore the mountain of discarded folderol

'Cause I've got something to help you understand
Something waiting there beneath the land
My metal detector Is with me all of the time
I'm the inspector over the mine

The question on everyone's mind is, of course, does the haul contain any coconuts?

This thread is useless without picts.

I don't think the Picts had anything to do with this treasure. We're talking Anglo-Saxons, here.
posted by webmutant at 7:32 AM on September 24, 2009 [2 favorites]

Anyone else get the feeling that this is the side story in some grander picture? Like there was some sort of whirlwind adventure/ love story going on around this guy, and he, acting as a kooky background character intent on finding buried treasure, may have dropped a line or two of wisdom to the leads before returning to his futile search. And now, in the final reel, as all the threads have come together, and the evil corporation was thwarted and the two star crossed lovers realized they needed each other after all that right before the credits roll, we get the aside of "Oh yeah, the crazy guy with the metal detector? He found a "buried treasure the likes of which have never been seen before!"

I figure Happy Madison is probably involved in this somehow.
posted by quin at 7:32 AM on September 24, 2009 [2 favorites]

You know I loved the movies and think they were fabulous and doubt very seriously this discovery could have made any real noticeable difference in the aesthetic, but is anyone else curious about how Middle Earth might have looked differently had we had access to this hoard prior to filming?

Also Anglo-Saxon knotwork looks like a pretzel when you only one of them.
posted by jefficator at 8:35 AM on September 24, 2009

Abeizer, that's one of those comments I wish I could multi-fave.

Metafilter: where the mole shouldered his clogged wheel
posted by mwhybark at 9:30 AM on September 24, 2009

The suitably warlike inscription, mis-spelt in places, is probably from the Book of Numbers Ch. 10 v 35 and reads:

Surge domine et dissipentur inimici tui et fugiant qui oderunt te a facie tua

"Rise up, o Lord, and may thy enemies be dispersed and those who hate thee be driven from thy face"

Interesting. This quote from Numbers is sung (in Hebrew) during Jewish worship when the Torah is taken from the ark. Hmm. Raiders of the Lost Ark indeed.
posted by ericbop at 9:47 AM on September 24, 2009

Wow, what an amazing find. Thanks for the post!

I liked the site's comment on the crumpled-up cross (to avoid a flamefest, I'm not quoting it here). Although, really, it looks like you could straighten it out without any damage, what with gold being so malleable. I can imagine the person who folded it thinking "Oh shit, the attackers are almost here . gotta get this cross into the chest somehow . I'll just fold it gently and we can flatten it out later."
posted by Quietgal at 9:48 AM on September 24, 2009

We'll never find all the artifacts scattered throughout North America until they invent the crockery detector.

Poking around an old stone foundation with my own metal detector, I came upon the rubbish pile where old cans and patent medicine bottles and yes, crocks, were chucked in the years before trash pickup. You can't beat New England farmland for Antique Garbage. Old metal rubbish sometimes keeps good company.

Not as fancy as the OP, but the most fun I've had since I was ten or so.
posted by Lou Stuells at 10:24 AM on September 24, 2009

The site I was digging on this summer had spot of trouble over one weekend when the site director was passing by and saw a couple of men with metal detectors climbing over the wall from the paddock where we had a trench. He asked them what did they think they were doing, and they told him they had permission from the site director. They then ran away when he informed them that, in fact, HE was the site director. Such incidents highlight why there is still a good bit of animosity between the two groups, despite a lot of outreach and lots of good results from team ups between detectorists and archaeologists.

Couldn't the site director at least try to end it with fisticuffs on top of a moving train?
posted by mattholomew at 10:44 AM on September 24, 2009 [3 favorites]

> This is unbeleivably exciting. I don't think anything could compare to the feeling this person must have felt as he started digging.

It must be kind of bittersweet for him, though. I mean, wouldn't you hang up the ol' detector for good after this? The usual assortment of bottle caps and coins just isn't going to cut it, and even if you find a gold ring or something it's going to pale in comparison.
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:52 AM on September 24, 2009

When I was about eleven I bought a pewter colonial replica coin of some sort at Old Sturbridge Village, and then secretly buried it in among the lilac roots in my back yard, where my buddy Jason and I spent a lot of time playing with our Star Wars figures. We lived in a fairly historical section of Massachusetts, and had recently been on a school trip to somewhere that had neat displays of antiques (House of Seven Gables?) and Jason was just primed for this sort of exploitation.

He came over and we played for a while, until I said, as nonchalant as possible, "what is this?" and pulled out the coin, crusted with mud.

Boy was he mad when I finally told him the truth.
posted by dirtdirt at 11:05 AM on September 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

That’s why I litter everyday, providing employment for future archaeologists everywhere.

If you are littering solid gold finery, it probably won't sit on the ground long enough to get dusty much less buried.
posted by Antidisestablishmentarianist at 11:33 AM on September 24, 2009

Thank goodness I convinced Mr. Herbert that the small smooth azure stone was just a local mineral deposit and not, say a rare faerie-made jewel that came loose from the profoundly powerful Crown Of The Raven Ring.

Why you say? Well, anything faerie-made is pretty hard to come by ever since James the 1st burned down all the scared bowers and gardens and buried the Great Duns.

Sell it? Oh no no no. I've got bigger plans. Don't worry, you'll know all about it by the next moon.

Everyone will know.
posted by The Whelk at 1:09 PM on September 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

Pracowity:
That's not snark at all, just an honest hope that he hasn't done serious damage to an archaeological site. When you find something like that, the right thing to do is to leave it alone and report it. Treat it like you've found a body -- you don't snatch the jewelry and run off, you step back and call in the experts.

As it turns out, that's what he did. He uncovered several of the artifacts, then he and the landowner promptly called in the authorities to report the find - upon which they carried out a full archaelogical excavation, which Terry was involved with. According to the experts, they now consider the site sterile, i.e. they've excavated anything of interest or value, but are keeping the location secret for the privacy of the landowner. Given he's about to come into half a million quid or more, I can't exactly blame him.

This is a find as important as Sutton Hoo or the Lindisfarne gospels for learning more about 7th century Anglo Saxons i.e. very. The odds of it ending up forgotten on some dusty backshelf of the British Museum is basically nil.
posted by ArkhanJG at 1:14 PM on September 24, 2009

It takes a ridiculously honest, consciencious person even to declare having found such a hoard.

not so much, actually. the market for ancient gold objects is small enough that if you try to move some objects nobody has seen before you pretty much will get caught, and will go to jail. there was a case i read about a few years back (the new yorker, maybe?) where a guy found a hoard of around 175 gold and silver coins from roman times, not even particularly rare varieties (ie nothing unique) he moved about a dozen of them through coin dealers before getting busted, going to jail, and not getting to split any money with the land owner. serious treasure hunters generally familiarize themselves with the rules.

also. awesome pix! i love the milling behind the garnets. beautiful stuff.
posted by sexyrobot at 12:09 AM on September 25, 2009

The hoard was reported to Duncan Slarke, Finds Liaison Officer with the Portable Antiquities Scheme.

"The Portable Antiquities Scheme is a voluntary scheme to record archaeological objects found by members of the public in England and Wales. Every year many thousands of objects are discovered, many of these by metal-detector users, but also by people whilst out walking, gardening or going about their daily work. Such discoveries offer an important source for understanding our past.

This website provides background information on the Portable Antiquities Scheme, news articles, events listings and access to our database of objects and images."

. at which point ownership of the treasure passes to "the museum" (not sure what that refers to -- The British Museum?).

The hoard is heading there for valuation, but it's not clear from this article that it will be housed there.

. but it's not clear from this article that it will be housed there.

As has been mentioned above, the 'Treasure Act 1996' stipulates that the 'treasure' be offered for sale to museums. I suspect that the British Museum stands a good chance in having the funds to purchase the hoard.
posted by ericb at 3:09 PM on September 25, 2009

We'll never find all the artifacts scattered throughout North America until they invent the crockery detector.

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An End to Roman Britain

In AD 410, the governor of Roman Britain famously received a letter from the Emperor Honorius informing Britannia that it would have to look to its own defences in the face of barbarian incursions. Rome itself was preoccupied with invaders, having recently seen their city sacked by Alaric and the Visigoths. It was assumed for many years that the legions were withdrawn and with it Roman life in Britain ceased. It is true that with the end of Roman rule went the coinage and the market based economy that had flourished for so long but in many parts of Britain a Romanised lifestyle seems to have continued for some time.

In Worcestershire that may not be the case and the picture that is unfolding is more complex and not well understood. In contrast to a continuation of Romanised culture in some areas, many sites in Worcestershire had declined or been entirely abandoned much earlier than AD 410. At Worcester, the town contracted from the late third century and after AD 400 there are very few finds from the town at all. The archaeological record of the next five centuries is a build up of dark rich earth thought to be the remains of stockyards associated with animal husbandry. There are some features with Roman origins that did persist into the Anglo Saxon period such as the defences, roads and the churches of St Helens and St Albans. This suggests a continuity of some kind of population however difficult it is to find on archaeological sites.

A similar picture is evolving in the countryside with the abandonment of farmsteads by the mid fourth century with no obvious shift in the
location of farms as there had been in earlier centuries. The settlements simply cease. Clearly this is very significant but it is not understood why it occurred and where the population moved to. This end to a Romanised lifestyle applies to industry and objects as much as it does to farmsteads and towns. Production in the pottery kilns of Malvern and the iron furnaces of Worcester simply came to an end.

Object in focus… Roman Milestone

Roman milestone found at Kempsey in 1818. It was probably inscribed between AD 307 and AD 312. The top and bottom sections are missing. The inscription reads Valerio Constantino Pio Felici Invicto Augusto.

“To the Emperor Valerius Constantinus, Pious, Fortunate, Unconquerable Augustus”.


A Game of Telephone

Now it is important to note that we are dealing with what are essentially two stages of adaptation: a historical exemplar has been adapted (or invented out of stereotypes, as the case may be) to make the text of the book, and then the text of the book has been adapted to produce the visual language of the movie (that the historical exemplar did not meaningfully intervene in this second adaptation is, by this point, obvious). At each stage of this adaptation, the visual signifiers of cultural complexity and sophistication were removed, replaced with standard Hollywood trope signifiers of ‘barbarians’ who wear lots of undecorated leather and fur and haven’t invented the comb.

What I have tried to show here is that this is not a case of “book good, show bad,” but rather a situation where the show has taken an already flawed description and pushed it to be even more flawed the depiction is made more extreme, but extreme in the same ways. Only the velocity has changed, not the direction.

What I want to draw attention to is how each of these changes, both in the book’s text and in the show’s visual language, tends towards flattening the sophistication of the supposed historical exemplar. Soft, purpose-made high quality buckskin becomes just leather (explicitly contrasted with other, higher quality materials). The complex patterns of a war-shirt becomes a simple vest (which then becomes a collection of crude leather belly-straps that have more in common with bondage gear than with clothing). Intricate decorative beading, quill-work and fringing is reduced to the flat adjective ‘painted’ (the only description of what is painted that I can find is Viserys’ outfit, quoted above). In a text that often stops to impress upon the reader the rich impressiveness of clothing, (e.g. the Winterfell banquet procession, AGoT, 42 Viserys AGoT, 84 Renly and his armor ACoK, 259-61 the Qartheen, ACoK, 318, etc.), it is hard not to conclude that the absence of something like ‘painted in brilliant golds’ or ‘painted with the shapes of white running horses’ is intentional.

In short, each change pushes the depiction from a real human society, with all of the complexities that implies, where self-interested greed and brutality coexist with beauty, art, creativity and artisanal skill, towards a flat depiction of a society made up of ultra-Fremen who are too busy dominating, fighting, killing and raping for such frivolities as elite clothing. Now to be clear, I am not singling out the ‘barbarian couture’ here at the start because it is the worst part of the depiction (it isn’t), but because it is a visual signifier of what all of the rest of the depiction is going to do.

Next week, we are going to move beyond the merely visual and begin to look at Dothraki culture itself, starting with its subsistence strategies (that is to say, ‘how do they eat?’). So far Martin’s ‘dash’ of pure fantasy has proven to be most of the mixture let’s see if there is more meat in…well, the meat that they eat.



Comments:

  1. Shauden

    It is a pity, that now I can not express - there is no free time. I will be released - I will necessarily express the opinion on this question.

  2. Kajirr

    Admirably!

  3. Bari

    Congratulations, very good idea

  4. Kezshura

    The phrase is removed

  5. Warenhari

    Yesterday the site did not work, somewhere around 12 o'clock, why?

  6. Shaktit

    Yes, it's hard



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