Research: Understanding the Hoard
The Staffordshire Hoard is undergoing one of the UK’s largest publicly-funded archaeological projects, which is offering invaluable insights into the art, wealth, power and technology of the Anglo-Saxon period.
An initial phase of research, from 2012-2014, funded by Historic England (formerly English Heritage), the owners (Birmingham and Stoke-on-Trent City Councils), and other partners, and managed by Barbican Research Associates, completed the first steps towards understanding the collection.
Over 18 months, the conservation team at Birmingham Museums Trust cleaned and stabilised the bulk of the collection. Conservation and analysis of the silver die-impressed sheets and scientific metal analyses was carried out by a team from the Department of Conservation and Scientific Research in the British Museum. A complete X-ray catalogue of the hoard was completed by Lincolnshire Museums and Collections Care. Archaeologist Chris Fern created a preliminary catalogue for the collection, and began work on understanding its typology and art styles.
The results of this initial phase of research and conservation were exciting, and revealed a great deal of new information about the hoard. A second phase of more detailed research and conservation followed on from this to complete the analysis. The conservation team joined together the many fragments which have been identified as coming from broken objects. The research team, led by Chris Fern, completed the typological and cataloguing work which is essential for understanding the exact composition of the hoard, how and when the objects were made, and broken, and to provide an insight into the beliefs and fashions of their owners. Expert contributions to place the hoard in its wider context- both in the Anglo-Saxon period and as a find of international importance today- were commissioned.
The main phase of the research project was completed in Summer 2017, and the edit and publication phase is now underway. The end result will be not just a scholarly monograph, but also a catalogue of the entire collection as well as the supporting discussion will be available online. This will ensure that the public, who have been so supportive of, and engaged with the hoard since its discovery, will be able to freely access the research themselves.
More information about the research project and updates from it, including regular newsletter can be found on the Barbican Research Associates website.