The Staffordshire Hoard, a vast haul of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver discovered by an amateur treasure hunter in July, has been valued at £3.28 million by the British Museum.
The sum, which was set by the independent Treasure Valuation Committee (TVC) at a meeting on Wednesday night, will be divided equally between the man who unearthed it and the farmer who owns the land where it was found.Terry Herbert 55, from Burntwood in Staffordshire, made the historic discovery as he was searching a field with his 14-year-old metal detector near the M6 toll road between Lichfield and Tamworth on 5 July.
At the time Mr Herbert, an unemployed council tenant who claims disability benefits, described his find as “more fun than winning the lottery” and said he intended to buy a house with some of his reward.
Today the landowner Fred Johnson, 65, said he thought the valuation was a “fair and reasonable figure” but that he was “not coming to any quick decisions” about how he would spend his share of the money. He added: “I am confident there’s nothing else there now. But then again I was sure there wasn’t anything there in the first place – so who knows?”
Both men and the two museums which hope to acquire the hoard – Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery and the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery in Stoke-on-Trent – have approved the valuation.
Professor Norman Palmer, chairman of the Government-appointed TVC, 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.”
He added: “All finders of treasure can take encouragement that the most valuable treasure find ever made was dealt with so speedily and yet so scrupulously by all parties concerned, given that the hoard was discovered only in July.
“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.”
The hoard, which dates back to the 7th century, is made up of more than 1,600 items, mostly gold and silver. It is the largest collection of Anglo-Saxon treasure ever discovered, and is believed to have been buried at the site by its owners at a time of danger and never recovered.
Selected highlights from the collection – which includes sword pommels, helmet parts and processional crosses – are currently on display at the British Museum in London, but a fundraising campaign is being launched to help the two smaller museums purchase it in its entirety.
Jim Wall, secretary of the Bloxwich Research and Metal Detecting Club, of which Mr Herbert is now the most famous member, said £3.2m was a “very nice” sum. He added: “The boy has done very well, it’s a once in a million lifetime chance isn’t it? The right time, the right place.”