New hoard declared treasure trove

Andover Advertiser: An exhibit from the Staffordshire Hoard Exhibition at the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent An exhibit from the Staffordshire Hoard Exhibition at the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent

Most of a collection of new items found close to where the Staffordshire Hoard was previously discovered have been declared treasure trove.

The 81 items of gold and silver, which date to the 7th century, will now be handed to the British Museum's valuation committee, which will assess their worth, South Staffordshire Coroner Andrew Haigh told an inquest in Stafford.

It will then be up to Staffordshire County Council and neighbouring councils to raise the money to buy the new items for the nation. If the money is raised, the pieces are likely to end up in museums with the original Staffordshire Hoard, which was found in a field near Lichfield in 2009 by metal detectorist Terry Herbert.

Mr Herbert and landowner and local farmer Fred Johnson will divide any proceeds from the sale of the new find in the same way they did with the original hoard.

The second haul was discovered by a team from Archaeology Warwickshire. But Mr Herbert and Mr Johnson will benefit because they were were behind the original discovery, the coroner said.

The original hoard, which contained 3,900 items, was bought for £3.3 million with the help of public donations and has since been seen by tens of thousands of people. The new find is only expected to cost a fraction of that figure.

Evidence was given in the coroner's court by Dr Kevin Leahy, an archaeological finds specialist who catalogued the original hoard and the new items, and principal archaeologist for Staffordshire Stephen Dean. He said the new finds were "closely related" to the original contents of the Staffordshire Hoard, adding: "It all fits very tightly with the Staffordshire Hoard."

He described how a team of archaeologists returned to the field in November last year and in two phases recovered the pieces from the ground, including gold and silver items, hilt rivets and pommel caps from swords and small fragments of metal discs, made of either copper alloy or base silver. The most interesting finds included an eagle mount - whose use is not known - and a cheek piece from a helmet.

Some of the gold in the pieces from the original Staffordshire Hoard could be traced to Istanbul in modern-day Turkey, and the gems to India and Eastern Europe, showing the Anglo-Saxons to be accomplished traders.

At the end of the hearing, Mr Haigh ruled 10 of the total of 91 items discovered in phased investigations starting on November 19, 2012, were not to be considered treasure, mostly as they were modern "waste" material. These items will all be returned to the owner and finder.

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