Thursday, November 26, 2009

Staffordshire Hoard is worth £3.285 million

A committee of independent advisors have valued the Staffordshire Hoard at £3.285 million. This figure will be split equally between the finder, Terry Herbert, and the landowner, Fred Johnson.

The landowner, the finder and the two museums which hope to acquire the hoard, Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery and the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent, have all approved the valuation.

The Staffordshire Hoard was discovered earlier this summer and received international media attention. It is considered to be one of the most important discoveries of Anglo-Saxon artefacts in England's history.

Professor Norman Palmer, chariman of the Treasure Valuation Committee, said "The task of valuing this hoard required the Treasure Valuation Committee to analyse a very large amount of information in order to arrive at a fair market price, and I am personally indebted to my fellow members whose energy and expertise made this result possible in so short a time.

"We are satisfied that we have arrived at a value which is both fair, and reflects the extraordinary interest and importance of this hoard."

He added, "It was breathtaking – we all agreed that it was not only a challenge but a privilege to be dealing with material of such quantity, quality and beauty. It was hard to stop our imaginations running away with us."

A fundraising campaign will now begin for the joint acquisition of the hoard by Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and the Potteries Museum, Stoke-on-Trent. All relevant parties are fully in support of this joint acquisition and for the hoard to be displayed in the West Midlands.

Palmer said, "It is of course immensely important that this extraordinary hoard is acquired for public benefit and I know that the two museums are anxious to raise the funding to keep the hoard in the West Midlands as soon as they can.”

It also emerged that the Staffordshire hoard is even bigger than archeologists had initially indicated, with 1,800 individual items being unearthed at the 40 x 30 foot site — 300 more than previously stated.

They include 84 sword caps, 71 hilt collars, helmets and parts of at least four crucifixes, with a folded gold cross singled out as one of the most valuable items in the hoard. Together, the artefacts contain more than 5kg (11lb) of gold — three times the amount found in 1939 at the Sutton Hoo burial site in Suffolk — and 2.5kg of silver.

"It is quite possible that other finds from the same period might be in the vicinity," said Roger Bland, head of portable antiquities and treasure at the British Museum, who has co-written a new book about the Staffordshire hoard. The book will be available next month.

Nicholas Brooks, emeritus professor of medieval history at the University of Birmingham, believes the hoard could represent a "royal treasury". He points out that Anglo-Saxon nobles paid a "heriot", or tax, in the form of weapons or bullion to their king when they died. In return, the king would honour the vassal's wishes about the disposal of his property.

Mercian kings from this period, such as Wulfhere and Aethelred, are likely to have had a supply of weapons which they could give to young warriors joining their service. "This hoard could represent such a stock of weapons," said Brooks.

"There's no comparable find of such gold or silver objects in either England or in Europe," said Bland. "All previous notable discoveries have been grave burials like Sutton Hoo."