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Author Topic: Staffordshire Hoard - latest  (Read 5524 times)

Linden

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Staffordshire Hoard - latest
« on: June 11, 2010, 11:00:07 AM »
The money is changing hands to acquire the hoard.
http://pitsnpots.co.uk/news/2010/06/anglo-saxon-hoard-saved
Cræft biþ betere ðonne æhta

Bowerthane

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Re: Staffordshire Hoard - latest
« Reply #1 on: March 24, 2011, 08:28:18 PM »
Here I go again.  Dr Gareth Williams is quite right to warn us that “a final interpretation is years away, and unlikely to be definite” but he couldn’t help trying to reconstruct the story behind the Hoard and neither can I.   

Today I enjoyed Martin Vine’s article ‘Wealth and Warfare in Early Mercia/ Interpreting the Context of the Staffordshire Hoard’ in dear old Wiþowinde and I’ve just put my finger on the déja vu Martin’s mention of some new ( to me) details about the context gave me.

Years ago I was a Victim Support volunteer and, amongst other reasons for restoring corporal and capital punishment, give repulsive little brats a kicking, arm all women with electric cattle prods etc., I handled several notebooks-full of break-ins within an hour’s walk of my home.  One turn-up for the notebooks was the recovery of many of one woman’s collection of cameo brooches, the ones carven specially to show the heads of her favourite breed of dog.  They turned up chucked in a roadside ditch half way to Stamford because the burglar/s realised he/they were too identifiable to ‘fence’.     

Now Martin tells me that the Hoard’s find site lay close to the junction two Roman roads, Watling Street and Ryknild Street, not far from modern Wall, Roman Letocetum.  Granted the roads were less busy in those days, but that seems a poor choice of hiding place unless, a) the buriers had no time to seek somewhere more remote and/ or b) they never intended to come back.   

Because I wonder if I’m the first to ask whether the most valuable part of the hoard is what the buriers didn’t bury.  Many a sword was pattern-welded then, and I think we know how valuable workmanship like that is.  Nor, to the best of our knowledge, were metal helms two a penny but high-prestige, high-value items.  And so on.

What I’m suggesting is that the buriers were common crooks, into whose hands had fallen some prestigious items well worth fencing, if only they could quickly remove the fittings by which all too many people would identify them.  Which may not even have been such a necessary evil granted the swords, helms etc. were valuable without them.  Also we don’t know how many more gold, jewelled etc. items of a non-military, and/ or less recognisable, nature may also have been in the gang’s hands, so they may have been sitting pretty in that regard: ergo they buried the cross too, which is surely also too distinctive.

We have a date bracket of AD 650-700 so, besides the battles Martin mentions, other events not conductive to peace and order include the Battle of Caer Luitcoet in AD 658, for which Lichfield is a possible site, according to the Welsh Annals ( lost by King Cynddylan of Powys) plus the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, IIRC, tells of a plague sweeping England in AD 665, same year as the Synod of Whitby.  So rather like the Russian mafia hawking high-class Soviet military hardware, are we beneficiaries of a bit of grand larcenry by opportunistic criminals in unsettled times?


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The moral right of the author to be identified as the astronaut whose head Neil kept cutting off in all the photos, which is why NASA couldn’t use them, has been asserted. 

Bowerthane

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Re: Staffordshire Hoard - latest
« Reply #2 on: March 24, 2011, 09:57:52 PM »

Just been hit by another thought.

Are there any stylistic differences between Mercian and Northumbrian worksmanship right for the Hoard's AD 650-700 period identifiable anywhere on any Hoard items? 

Or just any way in which some items could be classified under 'Characteristics A' and others under 'Characteristics B'?

Because if there are reasonable grounds to suspect that the Hoard includes items originating from two Old English kingdoms, then one good explanation for that would be that the Hoard was scavenged from a battlefield.

Our opportunistic criminals may have been robbing the dead.


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Graegwulf

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Re: Staffordshire Hoard - latest
« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2011, 04:24:48 PM »
I would have thought that "scavenging from the dead" was primarily the work of the ones who made them dead in the first place. Battlefield plunder was part of the deal; the standing of the Giver of Rings depended heavily on having some rings to give, so the possessions of any dead warrior who wasn't recovered by his own side were fair game.

Since the various kingdoms were pretty well constantly at each others' throats, I suspect stylistic distinction would be very difficult.  Even if Mercia made things differently from Wessex, Mercian lords and warriors would have enough plundered Wessex goodies, and vice versa,  to make distinction pretty well impossible.

However I assume that plunder was rightfully the winning king or lord's property, to be doled out on merit as he saw fit.  The hoard might therefore represent stuff that somebody could reasonably squirrel away for himself after handing over the helmets, byrnies, swords and other higher value items to the chief.  But if the here never went back that way again, or the hider got killed in another battle, he never got to pick it up later.


Paul