A newly-found hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold has been officially acknowledged as treasure by the authorities - meaning the amateur metal detector enthusiast who found it is likely to become a rich man. (Above centre: gold sword hilt collar with inlaid garnets.)
The hoard was found in a field in Staffordshire by 55-year-old Terry Herbert (pictured) in July. Archaeologists went on to uncover at least 1,345 items, many of them fashioned from gold. (Above l-r: helmet cheek plate, gold plate, folded cross.)
The exact location has been kept secret by archaeologists who says it is the most significant find since Sutton Hoo in unravelling Anglo-Saxon history. (Above: a gold scabbard boss, used ornamentally on a sword sheath, with inlaid garnets.)
Mr Herbert will have to split the value with the owner of the farmland where it was discovered. Only four helmets like the one from which this cheek plate is taken have survived. The plate would have been worn in battle to mark the warrior's status.
The vast hoard will officially became the property of the Queen to ensure it does not leave the UK. (Above: a millefiori stud, where a special glasswork technique - an early Anglo-Saxon speciality - has created a black and white mosaic within a gem.)
Much of the treasure will be on display at Birmingham Museum Art gallery before it is moved to the British Museum in London. (Above: a fragment of gold plate. The overall image intended by the plate is of two eagles separated by fish.)
Archaeologists say the hoard was likely to be a collection of trophies but they cannot tell yet whether it was from a single battle or from a long and successful military career. (Above: a gold sword fitting. Numerous similar items were found.)
The Anglo-Saxons ruled England from the 5th Century until the Norman conquest in 1066. (Above: a gold ring wrapped in filigree - twisted gold thread - discovered at the site on on 9 July.)
Some of the craftsmanship is so fine that experts say it could have belonged to Anglo-Saxon royalty. (Above: a gold fitting. Various fittings, sword hilt collars, and pommels - counterweights at the hilt - were uncovered and meticulously cleaned.)
Several of the sword fittings feature artwork known as Salin's Style II. This showed animals intertwined in complex, symmetrical patterns. The item above is believed to be the hilt from a dagger known as a seax (meaning "knife" in Old English).
This gold strip carries the Latin inscription: "Rise up O Lord, and may thy enemies be dispersed and those who hate thee be driven from thy face." It has two sources, the Book of Numbers or Psalm 67, taken from the Vulgate, the Bible used by the Saxons.
Mr Herbert said: ""Maybe it was meant to be, maybe the gold had my name on it all along. I don't know what my mates at the (metal detecting) club will say now." (Above: a complete gold buckle and plate from the 7th Century, discovered on 6 July.)
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