Why was the discovery of the Stafford shire Hoard so important?
Deborah Williams, Leicester
At the time of its discovery in a A field near Lichfield in 2009, it was said that the Staffordshire Hoard would “rewrite history”. This claim is made with depressing regularity about archaeological discoveries. But is it true of the Staffordshire Hoard?
The Anglo-Saxon hoard (consisting of more than 3,500 items) came out of the blue – there had never been anything like it before. The quantity and quality of gold and silver work is astonishing and shows the splendour of seventh-century art and craftsmanship. The hoard consists mainly of weapons, representing a heroic society where warriors battled for dominance. Yet it also contains Christian objects from the crucial years of the conversion from paganism, demonstrating how the Anglo-Saxon world was changing. Historically, it couldn’t be better placed.
Ignoring the hype, it would be fair to argue that history has been rewritten by the unearthing of the Staffordshire Hoard. Before its discovery, the Anglo-Saxon period was often ignored, seen simply as an interval between the Roman and medieval periods, enlivened only by the arrival of gangs of pirates from Scandinavia. However, since the discovery of the hoard, this has all changed: people have at last heard of the Anglo-Saxons and now know, appreciate and enjoy this fascinating age.
Dr Kevin Leahy is the national adviser on early medieval metalwork for the Portable Antiquities Scheme
Intricately decorated gold itemsitem from the Anglo-Saxon An Staffordshire Staffords Hoard