September 24, 2009

Anglo-Saxon hoard declared ‘treasure’

Armor and jewels believed to have been stripped from men killed in battle 1,400 years ago were declared a treasure trove Thursday by a British coroner.

The ruling by South Staffordshire Coroner Andrew Haigh means the Staffordshire Hoard can be sold to a British museum, with the proceeds to be divided between the man who found the treasure and the farmer who owns the field where it was discovered, The Times of London reported.

The find of 1,500 individual objects is the largest Anglo-Saxon hoard to date, archaeologists say, with more gold than the Sutton Hoo ship burial.

Experts say the objects were taken from the bodies of royal or aristocratic warriors after either a single battle or a series of fights.

The hoard was discovered by Terry Herbert, 55, of Burntwood, using an old metal detector.

Kevin Leahy, an adviser on antiquities finds, described the reaction when the hoard was first reported.

We were scared, he said. We were in awe of this material -- the responsibility of bringing something like this home was overwhelming. To open a bag of earth and see gold objects pour out of it set with garnets? I thought: 'This is ludicrous.'