Discovery

The first pieces of the hoard were discovered in 2009 by local metal-detectorist Terry Herbert on farmland close to his home in Hammerwich parish, near Lichfield in Staffordshire.

Reporting the find

Mr Herbert reported the find to the Portable Antiquities Scheme’s Finds Liaison Officer for Staffordshire and the West Midlands, based at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery.

The Portable Antiquities Scheme is run by the British Museum and National Museum Wales to encourage the recording of archaeological objects found by members of the public in England and Wales.

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, all finders of gold and silver objects, and some other groups and types of objects, have a legal obligation to report such items under the Treasure Act 1996.

Because the find was so important, English Heritage (now Historic England) and Staffordshire County Council funded an archaeological excavation. This was carried out between 24 July and 21 August 2009 by Birmingham Archaeology.

The archaeological dig

The archaeological dig lasted for four weeks and covered an area of 155 square metres. The archaeologists recovered more objects and fragments from the hoard, and they aimed to discover if there was any evidence to show why the hoard had been buried there.

Remarkably all of the objects in the hoard were found in the plough soil, within a few centimetres of the surface. Originally the hoard was probably deeper underground than this. It appears that the soil above the hoard had been eroded down the hill slope by ploughing, gradually reducing the amount of earth above the hoard. When Fred Johnson, the farmer, ploughed the field in autumn 2008, he went just deep enough to disturb the hoard and spread the objects through the plough soil.

The excavators found no other Anglo-Saxon features where the hoard had been buried. There were no buildings, no burials, and no signs of a battle. This suggests that the hoard was hidden in a relatively unoccupied area, not in a settlement or cemetery.

2012 finds

In November 2012 a further 81 pieces of gold and silver were discovered in the same field,  when it was ploughed for the first time since the original find. Many of the items weighed less than a gram. However, the new find did include a helmet cheek piece, the pair to the one in the original collection.

On 4 January 2013, a coroner’s court inquest ruled that these further Treasure items were part of the world famous Staffordshire Hoard. All of the Staffordshire Hoard Treasure finds from 2009 and 2012 are now owned jointly by Birmingham and Stoke-on-Trent City Councils on behalf of the nation, and cared for by Birmingham Museums Trust and the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent.