How were the items made?

The Staffordshire Hoard objects display three kinds of decoration: cut and mounted garnets, patterns made from gold filigree, and animal patterns.

Garnets: Some large garnets were mounted, but most garnet decoration uses the cloisonné technique. A pattern of small cells was made using thin gold strips. Some paste was put into each cell, supporting a piece of stamped gold foil and a thin slice of garnet, both cut to the shape of the cell. The foil reflected light back through the garnet, making the whole object sparkle and flash.

Filigree: The filigree work is made from gold wire, some less than 1 millimetre thick. This was carefully twisted and then flattened so the twists looked like little beads. Different size wires were combined to make patterns which were soldered in place.

Animal patterns: Some pieces are decorated with stylised animals, stretched out long and thin like ribbons. Sometimes there is only one animal, but usually there are two, intertwined to form elaborate interlaced patterns.

Strangely, we are lucky that many pieces in the hoard were damaged before they were buried. This means we can look inside them to see how they were made and take samples for analysis. If they were intact we could not do this. Our programme of scientific investigation will reveal much more about the hoard.

Find out more in our Conservation & Research section.