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This news two months ago got me thinking...

Anglo-Saxon gold hoard is the biggest - and could get bigger | UK news | The Guardian

Without question this is the largest group of gold artefacts ever found in British soil. Many of the pieces are of the highest quality design and technique, from a time that excelled in the creation of fine jewellery and weaponry. There really is nothing like it, but it reminds me of a prehistoric find made near Salisbury in the 1980s.

Here, too, archaeologists were staggered by the sheer scale: there were more than 500 bronze items, including curious miniature shields. But that hoard was illegally excavated and sold, and we will never fully understand it. By contrast, thanks to Herbert's professional skills and attitude, we know everything we could about the Staffordshire gold's context. That adds immensely to its academic value.

We don't yet know how big it is. The present list runs to 1,345 objects, including 56 lumps of earth. X-rays show them to be studded with pieces of metal. You can make out tiny decorative animals and jewel settings, but until the lumps are taken apart we will not know what's there. In other words, archaeologists have the prospect of themselves being able to excavate part of the country's most spectacular ancient hoard.

The phenomenon of buried hoards and the hobbyists scouring the land with metal detectors is specific to Britain - I am not aware of anything comparable on the Continent. Why is this?

The fact is that "civilisation" came to Britain with the Roman Legions and didn't outlast them very long. People who had some wealth got scared of the turmoil and decided to bury their wealth to return to it "when things get better". Trouble was, things didn't get better for many decades or even centuries. In any case, the turmoil outlived the people who knew where these buries hordes were.

I think what this illustrates is that in times of insecurity people will hoard gold, but in the end it won't do them any good...

The only "value you can carry with you always" is your skills.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Nov 26th, 2009 at 04:22:27 AM EST
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