Barbican Research Associates
providing an integrated post-excavation service for the archaeological community
The Staffordshire Hoard attracted world-wide attention when it was found by a metal detectorist in the summer of 2009. It consisted of approximately 6kg of gold and silver fittings mainly from swords which could be dated to the seventh century. Nothing quite like it had ever been found in Anglo-Saxon England before. A national appeal raised the purchase price and it is currently jointly owned by Stoke-on-Trent City Council and Birmingham City Council. It has its own website where details of where it is currently exhibited can be found. It also has a Facebook page for news items.
Since 2011 we have been managing the research project that will lead to its publication. The title of this is Contextualising Metal-detected Discoveries: the Staffordshire Anglo-Saxon Hoard.
In the first year we conducted an assessment. Stage 1 of the analysis ran from March 2012 to May 2014. This was slightly longer than had been originally planned as additional pieces of the Hoard were found in late November / early December 2012. These came to light after the first ploughing of the field since the discovery in 2009. Warwickshire Archaeology had conducted a systematic field walking and metal detecting survey on the site after the ploughing. This was funded by Staffordshire County Council and English Heritage. The pieces were declared to be Treasure and were acquired by Birmingham and Stoke-on-Trent courtesy of a generous donation by the jewellers Wartski. Following the acquisition, these pieces too became part of our project.
At the end of Stage 1 the design for the whole project was revised in the light of all the information gained during it. You can read about the results here. Stage 2 is running for 30 months with a completion date in June 2017. At that point the finished work will go to the referees, and we hope that publication will be in 2018. The publication will be in the form of a book and an extensive digital resource freely available via the internet. We anticipate making part of the digital element available during the life of Stage 2.
In Stage 2 we are producing a fully illustrated catalogue that describes the shape, decoration and composition of the pieces, and which will show how the individual fragments relate to each other. Detailed analysis of how the items were made will provide many new insights into the craft practices of the seventh century metalsmiths. The detailed analysis of the large body of animal art will provide information about the regions from which the pieces came, and help date the deposition.
We will explore the biographies of the individual items and of the hoard as a whole. To do this we will use the wear and repair observed, and the information about how the items were dismantled. This will help us understand how this currently unique find came to be assembled prior to deposition.
To place the Hoard in the wider context within which it needs to be understood, we are commissioning a set of studies relating to hoarding in general, seventh century life and mind-set, contemporary attitudes to gold, and the contemporary historical background. These studies will also reflect on the new light the Hoard has shed on these themes.
Finally a review of the effect the discovery has had on both the local region and nationally will be conducted. From this we hope lessons can be learnt that may help in the future should other finds of this magnitude be found.
The links on the right will take you to pages that provide more information. During Stage 1 we regularly published Newsletters describing what we were learning. We will be publishing more during Stage 2. The Newsletters are placed on this site for download, but if you would like to have them sent to you as they appear, just ask using the contact form.
This is an extremely expensive project and we are very grateful to English Heritage and the Owners for funding it. The Owners still need to raise a further £120,000 to fund all aspects of the research the project design describes. They are embarking on another fund raising campaign to cover the shortfall. Details can be found here.
Unless otherwise stated, all the photographs which illustrate the pages about the Hoard are by Guy Evans.
There are seven of these from Stage 1 and three from Stage 2. Click the fish (K 796) to see them
Click the warriors (K1382) to meet the team who are carrying out the work
The results of Stage 1
Click the sword pyramid (K1166) to read a summary
The project designs
Click on the sword pommel (K292) to see our plans and methodologies in detail.
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