Anglo Saxon Gold strip with Latin

The Anglo-Saxon Hoard at

Lichfield Cathedral

On a recent visit to Lichfield the opportunity to see the Anglo Saxon Hoard on display at the Cathedral was an opportunity too good to miss- This exhibition, which has come to Lichfield from Birmingham and Stoke-on-Trent, gave me an unique opportunity to see part of the largest collection of Anglo- Saxon gold ever found.

In the Chapter House of the Cathedral were some key-piece items of the hoard within glass cabinets surrounded by eager antiquarians.

The pride of collection was a gold strip inscribed on both sides with an old Testament quotation from Moses in occasionally misspelled Latin and letters: Swge Dne disepentur inimici tui et fugent qui oderunt te a facie tua [Surge Domine et dissipentur inimici tui et fugiant qui oderunt te a facie tua]. This translates: "Arise, O Lord, and let thy enemies be scattered and let them that hate thee flee before thee". Numbers 10:35]; or "Rise up O Lord; may your enemies be scattered and those who hate you be driven from your face" [Numbers 10:35, NRSV]. Although it was a computer generated replica it showed the incredible detail the artists of the 7-8th century were so proficient in.

Anglo Saxon gold cross

With the gold strip was another key item of the hoard, the Pectoral Cross, again a computer generated replica. Such a cross would only have been worn by a senior member of the clergy such as a bishop or abbot. Possibly Bishop Chad of Lichfield would have worn a cross like this. The first pieces of gold were found on 5 July 2009 in a field on a farm in Hammerwich, near Lichfield, by Terry Herbert, an amateur metal detector who lives alone in a council flat on disability benefit. Never before had he found anything more valuable than a nice rare piece of Roman horse harness. He was exploring an area of farmland using a metal detector and working with the permission of the landowner, Fred Johnson, when he uncovered what is now known as the Staffordshire Hoard. The field is now under glass, but that year it had been ploughed deeper than usual by Fred Johnson, and experts believe this brought the pieces closer to the surface.

Over the next five days, Terry Herbert recovered enough gold objects from the plough soil to fill 244 bags. At this point, he contacted Duncan Slarke, the Finds Liaison Officer for the Staffordshire and West Midlands Portable Antiquities Scheme. Fred Johnson gave permission for an excavation to search for the rest of the hoard. The hoard now valued at over 3 million, has been bought by the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery in Stoke-on-Trent.

My grateful thanks go to the U3A organisation and Wendy Wamer in particular for arranging the visit and the Lichfield cathedral website. Please follow the link below for more information.

Dean Price