Experts are beginning an 18-month research project to unlock the secrets of the Staffordshire Hoard, the collection of Anglo-Saxon items discovered in 2009. The project, to be carried out by Anglo Saxon finds cataloguer Chris Fern and specialist artefact photographer Guy Evans, aims to produce a detailed catalogue entry for each of the 3,500 items in the hoard. Each entry will include high resolution images and radiography images, as well as analytical data on the metal and other material used. All this information will be captured in a new database.
Funding for the project includes £276,000 from English Heritage and £68,000 from The Mercian Trail partnership, which consists of Stoke-on-Trent City Council, Birmingham Museums, Lichfield District Council, Staffordshire County Council and Tamworth Borough Council.
Barney Sloane who oversees strategic research at English Heritage, said, “The beauty and sheer size of the hoard have astonished the world, but the real excitement starts now with the unravelling of its significance. This research will ensure that the public displays are informed by the highest possible level of scholarship and will answer some important questions about the hoard itself, Anglo Saxon England and the Kingdom of Mercia, the latter often described as ‘shrouded in the mists of time’.”
Councillor Mark Meredith, Stoke-on-Trent City Council, added, “It is the first time such a comprehensive analysis of all the thousands of hoard artefacts will have been recorded. As the research progresses it will lead to new discoveries into how the beautifully intricate artefacts were put together, and help unlock secrets as to why they came to be buried in a Staffordshire field.”
The first stage of research is expected to be complete by October 2013. A second stage of work will involve the publication of a book and extensive digital resource which will be freely available via the Archaeology Data Service. It will focus on studies that will place the hoard in context, both at the time it was buried and now.
A new summer exhibition of the treasure, ‘Staffordshire Hoard: Dark Age Discovery’, began earlier this week and will run until 1 September 2013 at the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent .
Source: English Heritage