Amateur Explorer Unearths Historic Bounty: King Penda’s £3 Million ‘Treasure Trove’ of 6,000 Gold Artifacts from 650 AD Marks a Milestone in Archaeological Discovery

A collection of Anglo-Saxon gold artefacts known as the Staffordshire hoard has been hailed as ‘one of the greatest finds of British archaeology’ by researchers.

The ‘war hoard’ collection was discovered by metal detectorist Terry Herbert who was using a £2 metal detector he bought from a car boot sale to explore a field near Lichfield belonging to farmer Fred Johnson.

Their find on July 5, 2009 was sold off to museums for £3.285million and the funds were split between them.

The artefacts are from what is widely considered the ‘holy war of the dark ages’ in which Pagan leaders fought against rival Christian kingdoms.

The haul of 3,900 items is thought to belong to Mercian King Penda, a Pagan leader who ruled until 655AD.

A collection of Anglo-Saxon gold artefacts known as the Staffordshire hoard has been hailed as ‘one of the greatest finds of British archaeology’ by researchers. Pictured:  A reconstruction of a golden helmet, parts of which were uncovered in the hoard

The hoard includes what could be a ‘battle shrine’ containing a processional cross that suggests that Christian emblems were used as good-luck charms for battle. Pictured: One of the treasures discovered

The ‘war hoard’ collection was discovered by metal detectorist Terry Herbert who was using a £2 metal detector he bought from a car boot sale. Pictured: Another treasure uncovered

The research by Dr Chris Fern, of the University of York, is published in book The Staffordshire Hoard: An Anglo-Saxon Treasure

Dr Fern said: ‘This was a period when gold was suddenly much more available, and was converted into beautiful objects for the warrior elite’

The ancient haul of 3,900 artefacts dating back to between AD600 and AD650 has become an international sensation. Pictured: Part of the reconstructed helmet discovered in the hoard

Researchers, lead by Dr Fern, now believe the hoard belonged to Mercian King Penda who ruled until 655AD. Some of the pieces can be seen on display in the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall viewed the Staffordshire Hoard Exhibition at the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery in Stoke-on-Trent

Mr Herbert discovered the hoard in land belonging to farmer Fred Johnson (pictured). Their find on July 5, 2009 was sold off to museums leaving the men rich

King Penda was widely considered the most powerful Anglo-Saxon King of the time

Since then, the ancient haul dating back to between AD600 and AD650 has become an international sensation.

And scientists now believe the hoard belonged to one of the most most powerful Anglo-Saxon Kings of the time.

Penda was part of the Battle of Hatfield Chase where Northumbrian King Edwin was defeated.

Researchers, lead by Dr Chris Fern, have identified nearly 700 items, out of 4,6000 pieces, from a time where Anglo-Saxon kingdoms engaged in brutal battles.

Dr Fern believes the items were taken from Northumbria and east England by Mercian armies from a kingdom in the centre of what is now England, The Guardian reports.

The hoard, which was likely hastily buried but never recovered, includes what could be a ‘battle shrine’ containing a processional cross that suggests that Christian emblems were used as good-luck charms for battle.

An inscription from the book of numbers, the fourth book of the Hebrew Bible, is also included in the collection.

It reads: ‘Rise up, LORD, and let thine enemies be scattered, and let them that hate thee flee before thee,’ The Times reports.

The amazing hoard was found in a field near Lichfield, Staffordshire. The artefacts were sold off to museums for £3.285million

The team has identified nearly 700 items from a time where Anglo-Saxon kingdoms engaged in brutal battles

Tiny pieces of red and blue garnet stone that have been carved into elaborate, curved shapes to fit into decorations can be found in the collection

The skills of the ancient jewellers are easily apparent with threads of gold less than a millimetre thick wound into intricate shapes

It looks as though these emblems, from the losing side, were purposely broken before they were buried.

Dr Fern said that ‘it does seem that some of the Christian objects were targeted’ and religious figures were known to go to battle to support armies in that era.

Around 80 per cent of the identified treasures came from weapons, predominately swords.

There were 50 incredibly rare gold sword pommels and parts of a golden helmet.

Dr Fern said: ‘This was a period when gold was suddenly much more available, and was converted into beautiful objects for the warrior elite.’

The research by Dr Fern, of the University of York, is published in book The Staffordshire Hoard: An Anglo-Saxon Treasure.

Dr Fern believes the items were taken from Northumbria and East England by Mercian armies from a kingdom in the centre of what is now England, The Guardian reports

The hoard, which was likely hastily buried but never recovered, includes a processional cross that suggests that Christian emblems were used as good-luck charms for battle

The warriors helmet and a unique sword pommel were pieced together by researchers in 2015.

Archaeologists working with the hoard at the time said the two examples of 7th century ‘warrior splendour’ were likely made in workshops set up by some of England’s earliest kings.

The silver helmet includes ear pieces, most of the cap and the crest.

And its band reveals etchings of animals and kneeling Saxon warriors, while other parts show men with handlebar moustaches.

Anglo-Saxon helmets are incredibly rare in Britain and this is only the fifth to be discovered.

Experts worked for three solid days to reassemble some 1,500 thin, fragile silver sheets into parts of the helmet band and other details.

Experts studying the incredible Staffordshire Hoard have uncovered a rare warrior’s helmet, which includes this helmet band, by piecing together thousands of minuscule scraps of precious metal

The designs depict kneeling human warriors around the band (pictured) as well as fragments showing male moustachioed faces, birds, animals and mythical beasts. Another part of the helmet is shown above

The painstaking job saw these fragments – many measuring less than one centimetre across and making up around a third of the Hoard in size – pieced together to reveal intricate, die-stamped designs, including on the helmet band, which ran around the circumference of the helmet.

Pieta Greaves, who is in charge of the research for the hoard told MailOnline that the detailed band would have been level with the wearer’s ears.

The remarkable designs depict kneeling human warriors around the band as well as fragments showing male moustachioed faces, birds, animals and mythical beasts.

But experts have yet to tie them to the helmet.

Some of the warriors depicted have handlebar moustaches, which may hint that the style was fashionable at the time.

There is evidence of Christian and pagan beliefs in the Hoard. This artefact is an example of an early Christian cross

Some of the warriors depicted have handlebar moustaches, which may hint that the style was fashionable at the time

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