MOST of a collection of items recently found close to where the famous Staffordshire Hoard was discovered have been declared treasure trove.
The 81 items of gold and silver, which date to the seventhcentury, will now be handed to the British Museum to assess their worth, coroner Andrew Haigh told an inquest in Stafford.
It will then be up to Staffordshire Council and neighbouring authorities to raise the money to buy the items for the nation. If the money is raised, the pieces are likely to end up in museums alongside the original Staffordshire Hoard, found in a field near Lichfield in 2009 by metal detector enthusiast Terry Herbert.
Mr Herbert and landowner Fred Johnson will divide proceeds from the new find in the same way they did with the original hoard. The second haul was found by Warwickshire archaeologists. Mr Herbert and Mr Johnson benefit as they were behind the original discovery.
The original hoard of 3,900 items was bought for £3.3 million with the help of public donations. The new find should cost far less than that.
Evidence was given in the court by Dr Kevin Leahy, an archaeological finds specialist, and Stephen Dean, principal archaeologist for Staffordshire. Mr Dean said the finds were “closely related” to the original Staffordshire Hoard.
He told how a team of archaeologists returned to the field in November last year for the pieces. The most interesting included an eagle mount and a helmet cheek piece. Dr Leahy said the finds had “roused the public’s interest” in a period which had until recently been “the Dark Ages”. He added: “This is a period which runs for twice that of the Romans, and which shows Anglo-Saxons were highly cultured.”
Some gold from the Staffordshire Hoard could be traced to Istanbul in Turkey, the gems to India and Eastern Europe, showing Anglo-Saxons to be accomplished traders.