October 25, 2011

Secrets of the Lost Gold Facts

  • The Staffordshire Hoard is the only hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold ever discovered.

  • When the hoard was first catalogued, it was estimated at around 1500 items. Now further research and cleaning has revealed more than 3500 items, and the number continues to rise.

  • The items in the hoard are so small and fragile, the conservation team use pyracantha and cotoneaster thorns to clean them under the microscope.

  • Only 4 Saxon helmets have ever been found in England- Sutton Hoo (Suffolk), Benty Grange (Derbyshire), Woollaston (Northamptonshire) and Coppergate (York). The Staffordshire Hoard would be the fifth.

  • The melting point of gold is 1061 degrees centigrade (1940 degrees Fahrenheit).

  • Today, garnets are used primarily for industrial sanding purposes rather than gemstones. In 1994, the US industrial garnet industry was worth $14 million, but the gem industry only $233,000.

  • There are 165,000 metric tonnes (182,000 tons) of gold in existence today. Piled together, the resulting block of pure gold would measure only 20 meters cubed (26 yards cubed).

  • The inscription from the hoard is written in Latin and appears twice in the Bible- once in Numbers and once in Psalms. Experts believe that the version in the hoard is from Numbers: ‘Rise up, O Lord, Disperse your enemies and let those who hate you flee before your face.”

  • The nearest Roman town to the hoard find spot is Letocetum or Wall. It appears in the Antonine Itinerary, a Roman road manual, dating to the 4th century AD, as an important staging post on Watling Street.

  • After it was discovered in 2009, the Staffordshire Hoard was valued at £3.285 million ($5.173 million) and it was jointly purchased by Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery (Stoke-on-Trent), using funds raised by public donation and charitable grants.

  • The hoard was buried in violent times. Over 40 recorded wars were fought by the kingdom of Mercia with its neighbors between 600 and 850 AD.

  • Lichfield Cathedral was founded by St. Chad in the mid-seventh century AD, shortly before he died of the plague in 672 AD. He was buried at the Cathedral, and his shrine became a center for medieval pilgrimage, where pilgrims could view his skull at the St. Chad’s Head Chapel.

  • The Chad Gospel book, which is 1300 years old, contains the oldest example of the written Welsh language in the world.

  • The folded cross contains a central setting for a large stone or gem, which is now missing. It may have been glass, garnet, or crystal, possibly even containing a holy relic.


Nat Geo TV App

The Nat Geo TV App

Watch your favorite National Geographic Channel shows the day after they air.

Download on the App StoreGet it on Google Play