The Staffordshire Hoard, the largest collection of Anglo-Saxon treasure ever found, has been valued at £3.3 million by the Treasure Valuation Committee in a summit at the British Museum in London, where a selection of items from the find have gone on display.
Terry Herbert’s raft of sword fittings, helmets, religious jewellery and gold, dated to the late 600s or early 700s. The metal detectorist found them in fields in South Staffordshire and will net an equal split of the total with landowner Fred Johnson in a deal struck between the pair.
“The task of valuing this hoard required the Treasure Valuation Committee to analyse a very large amount of information in order to arrive at a fair market price,” said TVC Chairman Professor Norman Palmer, praising the “energy and expertise” of the panel in reaching a relatively quick decision, adjudicating four months after the Hoard came to light.
“All finders of Treasure can take encouragement that the most valuable Treasure find ever made was dealt with so speedily and yet so scrupulously by all parties concerned.”
This detail, captured by Birmingham University Archaeology Unit, has sparked debate on the Staffordshire Hoard Flickr page
Herbert himself may have other reasons to celebrate the conclusion of the investigation.
“It was nice to see the archaeologists having their fun retrieving the items out of the ground – it was more fun for them than it was for me,” he told Sky News in September, having dreaded the prospect of “night hawkers” finding the Lichfield spot and stealing the objects unearthed by his 14-year-old detector.
“When they showed me a gold item it was just another piece of gold. The novelty was wearing off, I'd done my piece and it was their responsibility then."
A hilt fitting from the collection
The collection features more than 1,500 precious seventh century pieces in 5kg of gold and 2.5kg of silver, left in terrain at the heart of the former Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Mercia.
Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery in Stoke-on-Trent are now hoping to put together a funding package to buy the treasures.
“It is of course immensely important that this extraordinary hoard is acquired for public benefit,” added Palmer.
“I know that the two museums are anxious to raise the funding to keep the hoard in the West Midlands as soon as they can.”
Eighteen objects from the Hoard are now on view in Room 37 at the British Museum. An accompanying book has been published by the Museum, with a cut of the proceeds aiding the acquisition appeal.
A selection will also appear at the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery between February 13 and March 7 2010.
Admission free. Visit the exhibition online for details of the programme of talks about the Hoard.
All pictures © Dave Rowan and Daniel Buxton, Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery