The identity of the person responsible for the discovery has been revealed. Terry Herbert, a 55-year-old former coffin maker from Walsall, found the vast hoard using his 14-year-old metal detector on farmland owned by a friend (who has since sold it), believed to be near Lichfield. Mr Herbert and his friend will soon be very wealthy men indeed; the coroner in nearby Cannock declared the find a treasure trove and a committee is currently evaluating its worth. The amount of gold is so large that there are fears it may have a depressive effect on the gold market. Mr Herbert though seems nonplussed, dealing with the media in the typically deadpan delivery of a true Black Countryman. Only once did romance get a hold of him, when he declared that the find was his destiny: ‘I have this phrase,’ he told the assembled throng of the world’s media,’ that I say sometimes, “Spirits of yesteryear take me where the coins appear”, but on that day I changed coins to gold.’ He has changed our understanding of Anglo-Saxon history too.
A sample of the hoard goes on display at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery today until October 13th. I thoroughly recommend their excellent Edwardian Tea Room.
Duncan Slarke of the Portable Antiquities Scheme was the first archaeologist to see the hoard. An interview is available on the Birmingham News Room website.
A new website devoted to the Staffordshire Hoard has also recently gone live providing images of some of the objects, a history and various interpretations of the find.
Visit our Anglo-Saxon focus page for further information on the period as a whole.
Images: (Staffordshire Hoard website)
- Gold strip with a biblical inscription
- Gold helmet cheek piece