It's difficult to get across the scale of the discovery in South Staffordshire, United Kingdom. 

To an archaeologist, saying that it dwarfs the Sutton Hoo ship burial site might help.

Leslie Webster of the British Museum described its significance as "the equivalent of finding a new Lindisfarne Gospels or Book of Kells."

Experts believe that the items must belong to Saxon royalty from the 7th Century, and will change the public impression of the people entirely.

Amongst the items were 5kg of gold and 2.5kg of silver.

It's thought the hoard was buried by pagans, possibly after success in battle. One hint that those burying were not Christian is that a gold cross has had its arms bent in for storage.

Kevin Leahy, National Finds Adviser from the Portable Antiquities Scheme was asked to look over the find.

"The quantity of gold is amazing but, more importantly, the craftsmanship is consummate. This was the very best that the Anglo-Saxon metalworkers could do, and they were very good." he commented.

Amongst the find are items used for warfare, such as sword hilts and pommels, some of them with gems such as garnets embedded.

The discovery was first made in July by Terry Herbert, who has been a metal detector for 18 years, and using the same detector for 14 of them.

A coroner has this week declared the find as 'treasure' meaning Mr Herbert will benefit financially fro his find. How much will be determined by a committee of experts.

With a loss of government funding for archaeology, there has been a growth in amateur searches and subsequently finds, including a Viking hoard found in 2007.

Any find of an object over 300 years old containing gold or silver, or any find of coins at all, must be reported to a coroner.

It's expected that the committee will take a year to value the items before offering them for sale, with museums given priority.

But historical experts expect that it will take 20 years to find out all that the find can tell us about the Mercian Kingdom, which included Staffordshire.

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery is storing the items, but some of them are going on display from tomorrow until October 13. 

 

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