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Saxon Gold: New Secrets Revealed

Premiere

Wed 5 Oct 8am - 9am National Geographic Channel
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Wed 5 Oct, 9am - 10am National Geographic Channel +1
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Review

In 2009, in an unremarkable field, a metal detector enthusiast stumbled upon a massive haul of Anglo-Saxon treasure, some 1,500 pieces of bejewelled gold and much of it from sword hilts. The “Staffordshire hoard”, as it’s become known, stunned experts and opened a window onto the Dark Ages.

This update follows the laborious cleaning process at museums in Stoke and Birmingham, revealing intricate designs and surprising craftsmanship for the period. A lot of the gold came from Byzantium, but a particle accelerator in the Louvre establishes that the red garnets were sourced as far afield as Sri Lanka. How on earth did the Anglo-Saxons manage that? A plausible theory is posited.

One question that isn’t answered, though, is how life has changed for detectorist Terry Herbert (“Why me? Why have I found it?” he burbles in a lovely thick Staffs accent) and landowner Fred Johnston, who have shared the proceeds, estimated at £3.3 million.

Summary

Amateur metal detectorist Terry Herbert talks about his July 2009 discovery of a hoard of Anglo-Saxon treasure worth £3.3million in a field near Lichfield in Staffordshire. Plus, Birmingham Museum curator David Symons shows the work of Anglo-Saxon metalwork specialists, gemstone analysts and osteoarchaeologists to reveal new aspects of art in the Dark Ages.

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