The two most striking features of the hoard are that it is unbalanced and it is of exceptionally high quality. It is unbalanced because of what we don’t find. There is absolutely nothing feminine. There are no dress fittings, brooches or pendants. These are the gold objects most commonly found from the Anglo-Saxon era. The vast majority of items in the hoard are martial - war gear, especially sword fittings.
The quantity of gold amazing but, more importantly, the craftsmanship is consummate, this was the very best that the Anglo-Saxon metalworkers could do, and they were very good. Tiny garnets were cut to shape and set in a mass of cells to give a rich, glowing effect, it is stunning. Its origins are clearly the very highest-levels of Saxon aristocracy or royalty. It belonged to the elite.
Most of the gold and silver items appear to have been deliberately torn from the objects to which they were originally attached. We have over 80 gold and garnet pommel caps, and there also appear to be fittings from helmets.
This is not simply loot; swords were being singled out for special treatment. If it was just gold they were after we would have found the rich fittings from sword belts. Perhaps gold fittings were stripped from the swords to depersonalise them – to remove the identity of the previous owner. The blades then being remounted and reused.
It looks like a collection of trophies, but it is impossible to say if the hoard was the spoils from a single battle or a long and highly successful military career. We also cannot say who the original, or the final, owners were, who took it from them, why they buried it or when. it will be debated for decades.We don’t know how it came to be buried in that field, it may have been a tribute to the pagan gods or concealed in the face of a perceived, but all too real, threat, which led to it not being recovered.
Friday, September 25, 2009
What can you say about this discovery except, wow. The hoard contains 1500 objects and 12 pounds of gold. From the curator: