‘Incredible’ Staffordshire Hoard goes on Display at British Museum

Artefacts from the Staffordshire HoardThe Staffordshire Hoard has arrived on display at the British Museum in London, as the farmer on whose land it was found has described his experience as ‘incredible’. Heritage Key will be heading there to see the maginficent treasure today – look out for the pictures right here! The gold pieces, thought to be part of a Saxon war bounty, were found in a field in the midlands county this July. They have since gone on show at Birmingham’sMuseum and Art Gallery, where up to 100,000 people flocked to see them still encrusted with the mud which had hidden them for 1,400 years.

Yesterday the hoard made its arrival in the capital, and has already been drawing thousands of fans eager to catch a glimpse at the still-unwashed treasures. Highlights include a twisted cross, and an inscribed band. Fred Johnson is the farmer on whose land all hell broke loose, after metal detecting enthusiast Terry Herbert stumbled across the find four months ago.

Yet Mr Johnson’s lifestyle is worlds away from the millionaire status he stands to inherit once the hoard is valued by a select panel. “It’s been an incredible experience. I’m overwhelmed by it all,” he tells the Guardian. “They say this will change the history books; it’s a strange thought that came from something lying in my field all this time. I’m trying to keep a level head about it. I’m trying not to think at all about the value of it.”

Thanks to Britain’s treasure laws introduced in 1996, Mr Johnson will earn half the hoard’s market value – the other half going to Mr Herbert. “All I can say is we’re expecting it to be a seven-figure sum,” Birmingham Museum expert Dave Simmonds tells HK in an exclusive interview, “and beyond that I wouldn’t even try to guess.” The hoard will be one of two metal detecting coups found in the British Museum, alongside 2007’s Vale of York Hoard, Viking treasure bought by the museum. Its arrival in London comes as another discovery, of four ‘torc’ gold bands, has been unearthed near the Scottish city of Stirling.

Yet Mr Johnson, a life-long country boy, isn’t about to let his new-found stardom change his life. He has only ever been to London once, and donned a new suit as he came face-to-face with the hoard in its new temporary home for the first time yesterday. “You dont go anywhere you dont have to,” he says. “But I couldnt miss this, could I? Its once in a lifetime. Its the first time I havent slept. It was the thought of coming down to London, to the big city.”

But unlike the Vale of York Hoard, the treasure won’t be making a permanent home in the capital. A group of midlands museums, including Birmingham Museum and Stoke’s Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, are expected to bid unopposed for the hoard after valuation, so it can be returned to its Mercian homeland. “There’s the element of local pride because this is royal Mercia,” says Simmonds. “We’ll certainly be going all-out to keep the material in the West Midlands region.”

Heritage Key will be heading to the British Museum today to get a closer look at the Staffordshire Hoard – check out the photos right here! We’ll also be profiling other highlights from the UK’s largest museum in the future. If you’ve got any comments or questions about the Staffordshire Hoard, Stirling Hoard or anything else, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us either in the comments box below or at our contact page. You can also keep track of our latest news, views and videos via Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Flickr and iTunes – not to mention subscribing to our feeds. Exploring the planet’s ancient past has never been easier with Heritage Key: Unlocking the Wonders.