Publication Date



faith and doubt, Anglo-Saxon literature


As is now well known, in July of 2009, an unemployed metal “detectorist” named Terry Herbert was plying his device in the recently plowed field of a friend in the farmland outside of Lichfield, in Staffordshire, in the English West Midlands, and came upon a remarkable find.2 Over the course of several days, he uncovered hundreds of items of what turned out to be early Anglo-Saxon gold and silver metalwork. The find was subsequently reported to the British Portable Antiquities Scheme, which took over the site, and eventually some 1300 distinct objects (and many more pieces) were recovered. The news of the discovery, now popularly known as the Staffordshire Hoard, spread quickly. The scope of the hoard was unprecedented with respect to its valuation (3 million pounds equally divided, thanks to Britain’s treasure laws, between Mr. Herbert and the landowner), its weight (over ten pounds of gold), and the light it sheds on Mercian culture and power, an era of Anglo-Saxon England about which relatively little is known. Indeed, much of the current dating of Anglo-Saxon artistic styles and metalwork may ultimately need to be revised as a result of the discovery.