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.

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