Highlights of Anglo-Saxon hoard

By Rosamond Hutt,Press Association
Sunday 23 October 2011 08:13

The largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold ever found comprises more than 1,500 items. Here are some of the collection's highlights:

Sword hilt fittings

At least 84 pommel caps and 71 sword hilt collars have been identified so far. They would have adorned a sword or seax (short sword or knife). Their elaborate and expensive decoration - many are made of gold and inlaid with garnets - suggests the weapons were once the property of the highest echelons of nobility.


Experts are piecing together what they believe are parts from several splendidly decorated helmets, including what appears to be a cheek-piece with a frieze of running animals. It has a relatively low gold content and has been specially alloyed, probably to make it more functional and able to withstand blows. There are also fragments of silver edging and reeded strips that may have been helmet fittings and an animal figurine that was possibly the crest of a helmet.

Biblical inscription

A strip of gold bearing a biblical inscription in Latin is one of the most significant and controversial finds. One expert believes that the style of lettering indicates it is from the seventh or early eighth centuries, while another dates it to the eighth or ninth centuries.

The warlike inscription, mis-spelt in places, is thought to be from the Book of Numbers, Chapter 10 verse 35. The translation reads: "Rise up, o Lord, and may thy enemies be dispersed and those who hate thee be driven from thy face."

Folded crosses

The largest of two or three crosses in the hoard may have been an altar or processional cross. It has been folded, possibly to make it fit into a small space prior to burial.

The apparent lack of respect shown to this Christian symbol may point to the hoard being buried by pagans.

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