UCC expert judges gold find


AN ANGLO-SAXON expert at University College Cork (UCC) has been called in by the British Museum to help analyse the Staffordshire hoard, one of the most exciting archaeological finds yet discovered in Britain.

The items were unearthed by a British metal detector enthusiast, Terry Herbert, in July. He alerted the British Museum, and the Anglo-Saxon hoard of gold and silver artefacts has proven one of the most remarkable ever discovered. Mr Herbert, from Burntwood, Staffordshire, described finding the haul as “more fun than winning the lottery”.

Prof Elisabeth Okasha of UCC was asked by the British Museum to analyse a particular artefact made of gold alloy which contained an inscription. She found that although there were some letters missing from the inscription, it was a quotation from a well-known Vulgate text. Indications were that the inscription was 8th or 9th century, she said.

Prof Okasha, a renowned expert on the Anglo-Saxon period, has published widely on Anglo-Saxon runic inscriptions.

The find is so important that the British Museum is planning to hold a special seminar on it next year, attended by experts.

In the initial discovery, Mr Herbert bagged some 244 artefacts, with a further 571 bags of items subsequently being removed. The hoard has been likened to the discovery of a “new Book of Kells”.