This week I have had another interesting adventure with the hoard, I have been couriering the folded cross and pectoral cross as well as four other objects that had been part of the Lindisfarne Gospels exhibition at Durham Palace Green Library.
They were the last objects to leave the exhibition so the galleries seemed dark apart from the Staffordshire Hoard case providing the last light. Once condition checked and packed for transport we headed off in a specialist art transport van, my priority on these trips is to ensure the safety of the objects at all times, but a little van banter with the drivers helps pass the time and ensures that the long day doesn’t seem so long.
Unusually, instead of taking the object back to Birmingham I couriered the objects to the British Museum where they will be temporary stored. This is so they can be included into the gold analysis work which is currently underway as part of the research program.
An initial pilot group of sixteen gold objects from the Staffordshire Hoard was analysed at the British Museum to investigate surface enrichment. Analysis showed that there was, in some cases, far more silver lost from the surface of the objects than could be accounted for as natural burial corrosion, possibly hinting that a deliberate and sophisticated process was being used by the Anglo-Saxon goldsmiths to remove silver and create a more golden surface.
Further research is being carried out at the British Museum on a larger group of objects, including the crosses, to determine whether this deliberate surface enrichment was a common practice on the Staffordshire Hoard gold objects.
With the objects safely locked away I am now free to sit on the London to Birmingham Train that I have come to know so well, and look out of the window. I spend my time thinking about how the Anglo-Saxon landscape would have looked and even daydream a little about elite Anglo-Saxon warriors passing through wearing pieces of the hoard (but I must concede that it’s just a dream, and even if the hoard once passed through, they were unlikely to follow the train tracks of today).
Staffordshire Hoard Conservation Manager
Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery