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Reopening a small pit, he could have heaped his trophies, gold and silver fittings stripped from enemy weapons, on top of hundreds of other fragments deposited during previous visits over many years.
236), the cache was still unclaimed, although scattered from its original hiding place by modern ploughing.
David Symons suggests that the fragments contain about 11lbs of gold, the equivalent of more than 3,000 contemporary gold coins, and a vast sum for one individual to have access to.
Aside from a small number of religious items, the vast majority of pieces come from weapons or armour, which could explain the brutal treatment of its components, Anglo-Saxon specialist Chris Fern suggests.
‘If you had been up against the army that carried these objects, you might well feel a certain antipathy towards their possessions,’ he said.
Could this indicate that the goldsmiths were also versed in leatherworking, or might they point to a group of collaborating specialists?
While the standard of the work that went into crafting these items is undeniably high, so too is the quality of the materials used.
These were once secured to the object they decorated — whether this was a reliquary, book, or saddle is still a matter for debate — with silver rivets, but these are only visible from the back of the gold strips; on top, they are concealed behind artfully arranged garnets.