Srsly, everyone’s saying “bigger than Sutton Hoo” and “biggest Anglo Saxon hoard ever found” and “It will redefine the Dark Ages.” They’re calling it the Staffordshire Hoard. It already has its own website.
Specifics: Metal detector, farm field, Staffordshire (Mercia!). The Crown has called dibs on it: v. good thing.
The BBC version of the story. Sample quote:
“Swords and sword fittings were very important in the Anglo-Saxon period,” Dr Leahy added.The Guardian’s version. Sample quote:
Delicate ornament, stunning craftsmanship and gold were like Kalashnikovs in the battle for land and loyalty. Now, 1,300 years on, they command our intellect and our awe. “It’s going to shake up all our ideas,” says [Anglo-Saxonist Leslie] Webster. “And what fun that will be!” The Mercian flag is on the march.Why the difference: The Guardian sagely got Mike Pitts, editor of British Archaeology magazine, to write their article for them.
Since these are modern times, there’s a Flickr set where you can look at all 644 photos thus far. Some of the stuff I liked best:
A Fish and Eagles zoomorphic mount reminiscent of the eagles on the Sutton Hoo purse lid and shield mount.
A crumpled gold cross, plus jewelry fittings.
Something they’re calling a gold plaque with entwined stylised arms.
A hilt fitting with inlaid garnets. A whole bunch of sword fittings. Some pyramidal sword finials.
A black-and-white-checked enamel gem in a cloisonne frame. Get up close and look at the tiny fine gold beading around its edge.
And an interesting strip of gold with a biblical inscription.
Medievalist B. Hawk has it pegged:
As pointed out in the hoard catalogue, “The inscription reads: ‘surge d[omi]ne [et] disepentur (for dissipentur) inimici tui et fugent (for fugiant) qui oderunt te a facie tua’ (‘rise up, o Lord, and may thy enemies be scattered and those who hate thee be driven from thy face’).” The catalogue also notes that this passage comes from Numbers 10:35; it has been noted, however, that (given biblical transmission) the passage more likely derives from Psalm 67:2, which includes the same passage.Cool.
A search of the Fontes Anglo-Saxonici database reveals that only one text (or set of texts, as will be revealed) known in Anglo-Saxon England also quotes this passage from Numbers 10:35/Psalm 67:2: Felix’s Vita S. Guthlaci. This Vita was written in c.730-49, and, according to E. Gordon Whatley, the text was present in Anglo-Saxon England in at least eight extant manuscripts, one of these (a fragment) from the late eighth or early ninth century. The corresponding use does appear in the Old English prose Life (which corresponds closely to Felix’s Latin version), but not in Vercelli Homily XXIII or Guthlac A or B.
What is interesting about the passage in which this verse is used is that it is not merely a quotation; instead, Guthlac himself uses the Psalm to ward off evil spirits. According to the Old English prose version, Guthlac “þone sealm sang: Exurgat deus et dissipentur, et reliqua. Sona swa he þæt fyrmeste fers sang þæs sealmes, þa gewiton hi swa swa smic fram his ansyne” (“sang the psalm: Exurgat Deus et dissipentur, et reliqua. As soon as he had sung the first verse of the psalm, they departed like smoke from his presence”). What we find, then, is an act of warding off evil, a use of the psalm to achieve victory over one’s enemies.
Addendum: Michael Drout at Wormtalk and Slugspeak has an interesting short entry. He calls it a treasure-hoard, not a funeral offering like Sutton Hoo; also:
One of the most intriguing finds is a strip of gold inscribed with Latin:
[.] I R G E : D N E : D I S E P E N T U // [.] F I N I M I C I T U I [:] E/T
[.] U G E N T Q U I O D E R U N // T T E A F A C I E T [U] A (…)
It has not yet been determined what the inscribed strip is, though it may have been part of a shield or helmet. Michelle Brown … dates the script to the eighth or ninth century. There is already some speculation that the hoard could be part the immense treasure supposedly paid to King Penda of Mercia by King Oswiu of Northumbria, but there really isn’t any specific evidence at this stage.