Alright, we’ve all been rather excited about this for a couple of days. 1500 new (to us, anyway) items to salivate over and study. I just thought I might put down some of my observations after looking through the initial hand list of objects. This can be found, in its 108 page entirety, by following the links on the Anglo-Saxon Archaeology Blog, whose own link can be found to your right. Remember, these are only initial responses.
The dating of the hoard, based on stylistic elements of some of the objects, is roughly c.650-750. The location, coupled with this putative date, places this find in the context of the Mercian conflict with Northumbria or East Anglia. My first guess would be after 676, when Aethelred turned his attention from his raid on Kent to targets further north. Of course, if this is not the spoils from a single battle or campaign, if it was, as Kevin Leahy points out, the collected treasure “of a long military career,” then some of the pieces could well have come from Kent (Leahy, 6). First glance analysis points to Kent as the possible place of manufacture for a few pieces. This would at least put the beginning of the collection in Wulfhere’s reign, 658-675, or maybe a bit before. I like the “collection” idea, even though I have no idea why it was ultimately planted. Still, we cannot discount the idea that these objects represent the fruit of a single campaign or battle. If this is indeed the case, perhaps the hoard was hidden in response to a pursuing army or force.
I am struck by the absence of coins. I have been through the entire hand list and found not a single coin. That really puzzles me. Archaeologists, however, have yet to uncover the artifacts from over one hundred “earth lumps.” Jonathan, if you read this, do you have any thoughts on the matter? No coins might seem to lend credence to the collection theory. A few coins would certainly aid in dating the find more firmly.
Enough for tonight. Be forewarned, as this topic will be taking up a lot more space on this blog. Hopefully, it will drive me to finally learn how to post photos as well!
Leahy, Kevin. Staffordshire Hoard: Discovery and Initial Assesment. (Why won’t my italics work?) URL forthcoming.