Page last updated at 12:12 GMT, Friday, 25 September 2009 13:12 UK

Crowds visit Anglo-Saxon hoard

Hundreds of people have been queuing to see part of the UK's biggest haul of Anglo-Saxon treasure in Birmingham.

About 1,300 mainly gold and silver items have been recovered after initial discoveries by treasure hunter Terry Herbert in Staffordshire.

Visitors to Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery are able to see a selection of the items until 13 October.

So many people turned up on the first day, the opening was delayed while exhibits were moved to a larger space.

Visitor, John Welsh, a jeweller from Rednal, Birmingham, said the treasure was "so intricate".

"I expected it to be a lot cruder because it's so old, but not at all.

"They almost look as though they could be modern some of the filigree designs," he said.

They're just incredible - the craftsmanship that goes into them is mind blowing
Jay Singh, hoard visitor

IT consultant Jay Singh, from Handsworth, Birmingham, said he rushed to book the day off ahead of his colleagues when he heard the artefacts were going on public display.

He said: "I had to be one of the first people to see them in the flesh so to speak.

"They're just incredible, the craftsmanship that goes into them is mind blowing."

Treasure valuation

Mr Herbert, 55, from Burntwood, Staffordshire, discovered the hoard just below the surface of a cultivated field in the south of the county in July, using a metal detector.

The collection, which may date to the 7th Century, contains about 5kg of gold and 2.5kg of silver.

The opening was delayed as the exhibits had to be moved to a bigger space to accomodate the crowd

It was declared treasure by South Staffordshire coroner Andrew Haigh, meaning it belongs to the Crown.

After its public showing the hoard's worth will be assessed by the Treasure Valuation Committee.

Mr Herbert and the landowner will share the value.

Roger Bland, head of portable antiquities and treasure at the British Museum, has said: "The most we can say is, I think we're fairly confident it is likely to be a seven-figure sum."

Once a market value has been ascertained, museums will be able to bid for the collection.

A joint acquisition between Staffordshire County Council, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery has already been proposed.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council leader Ross Irving said "short of intervention by the government" he believed the hoard would come to the city.

He said: "It has to be valued first of all, so we can find out how much we need to raise to actually buy it.

"We're hoping we're going to do that in partnership with other authorities."

'Important discovery'

Rita McClean, from Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, said: "There's a long way to go before there's a clear outcome as to how it's acquired and where it goes.

"The find liaison officer that was the first contact is based at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and so in a sense that's why the finds came to us."

The Staffordshire hoard is far bigger than the Sutton Hoo discovery in 1939 when 1.5kg of Anglo-Saxon gold was found near Woodbridge in Suffolk.

The treasure - which includes a large number of sword pommels and hilt plates as well as a quantity of silver - has been hailed as "a fantastically important discovery" which will redefine perceptions of Anglo-Saxon England.

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