The British Tours blog

Were the Dark Ages really so Dark?

Ceremonial Anglo Saxon Helmet from Sutton Hoo

Ceremonial Anglo Saxon Helmet from Sutton Hoo with kind permission of The British Museum

The largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon treasure ever found has been discovered by metal-detector enthusiast, Terry Herbert on his friend’s farm in Staffordshire.

This is the most significant Anglo-Saxon find since the discovery at Sutton Hoo, by Mrs Pretty in 1939 of a 7th century Anglo-Saxon King’s burial. Probably King Raedwald, he was buried with a rich collection of weapons and armour.

Terry Herbert’s hoard consists of about 1500 pieces of gold and silver, which include weapons, sword pommel caps and other military artifacts some inlaid with precious stones, possibly reflecting the wealth and warrior status of the owner? This phenomenal find has sent British archaeologists and historians into a frenzy. It is said that the treasure could revolutionise our perception of the Anglo-Saxons – the people that ruled the various areas of Britain from the 5th century to the Norman invasion of 1066.

The treasure is also almost certainly from the 7th century, a period in our history known as ‘The Dark Ages’, but this suggests that it wasn’t so dark after all and historians are likely to debate the find for decades to come.

Mr Herbert and his farmer friend are set to receive a very large sum of money from the discovery. The find has been classed as treasure, which means it is the property of the crown and will be valued and sold off to a museum with the proceeds to be split between Mr Herbert and friend.

Unlike Sutton Hoo, which was not considered a treasure trove as it had not been buried with an intention of being found, but as part of a burial of a person. Fortunately, Mrs Pretty donated the whole find to the nation and the remarkable Sutton Hoo collection can be viewed on a tour of the British Museum.

British Tours offers a 2 hour, private highlights tour of the museum or you can visit the museum during one of our London day tours.

- Nikki

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