Visiting the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery on a beautiful April day, we were enchanted by the exhibition known as “The Staffordshire Hoard”, a selection from a huge number of tiny items discovered in 2009. It is normally on display in the Midlands so we were fortunate to have a local exhibition.
Four thousand fragments were found (give or take a few), possibly from the defeated armies of unknown battles, and it is believed they were buried in the first half of the 7th century AD near Watling Street during what has come to be known as “the Dark Ages.”
Well, there was nothing primitive about the quality of the most exquisite workmanship to be seen since Sutton Hoo, the delicacy of each tiny fragment reflecting the Anglo Saxons’ supreme talent in Europe where most of the materials must have come from.
They used fine gold wires, frameworks of gold and silver inlaid with red cloisons and decorations, using a patterned die.
The collection consists of fittings from the weaponry of an elite warrior class, the decorations a mixture of birds, horses, serpents and god-heads, a pagan society transferring towards Christianity, and these pieces are measured in millimeters. The largest find is a gold cross weighing 140 g. and bent in half before burial.
I could go on and on about this wonderful hoard, but it really has to be seen to be fully appreciated. Our thanks to Jacqui for organizing such a lovely day out, her bonus being the Art Gallery on the 2nd floor, which is splendid.