In the Sunday Times Magazine this weekend, Tony Robinson outlined the speculative history of the Staffordshire Hoard, from its Anglo Saxon origins through to why it was buried in the Midlands 1,400 years ago.
Is this hoard evidence of a massacre? Where are the coins, jewellery and ornamental objects we would normally find among such a hoard? The artefacts are masculine — the fittings from swords, fighting knives, helmets and shields — which point to a battle context. But why only take the decorative fittings, not the complete swords and helmets? These were more valuable if kept intact, yet all we have are fragments, broken, stripped from the weapons, and bagged up for easy burial.
The article also outlines the potential future of the hoard:
Public donations to The Art Fund’s campaign to secure the hoard for the Midlands topped £500,000 in the first six weeks. But if more money isn’t raised, ownership of the treasure will pass to Terry Herbert and the landowner who will then have the right to sell it to anyone on the open market. It would be wonderful if the region could keep this enigmatic addition to its heritage, and not lose it to a foreign museum or the gloomy vaults of a private collector. The Art Fund has until April 17 to raise £3.3m to secure the Staffordshire Hoard for museums in the West Midlands. Donate at www.artfund.org/hoard
The whole article – The Long Battle for the Staffordshire Treasure Hoard, Sunday Times Magazine, Sunday March 14th 2010, – can be found here.