Warrior Treasures exhibition of Saxon gold dazzles at Royal Armouries Museum
A Saxon treasure trove of buried gold, silver and gems - unearthed in one of the greatest finds of its kind - is now on display at the Royal Armouries in Leeds.
The Warrior Treasures exhibition, which focuses on fittings from weapons and tells the story of their discovery, is on public view until October 2.
The seventh century treasure, found buried in Staffordshire, is from the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Mercia, which at the height of its power included areas of modern Yorkshire.
It is part of the Staffordshire Hoard collection, the largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold ever found and some of the objects on display have never been on show before.
Henry Yallop, lead curator for the exhibition and expert in edge weapons at the Royal Armouries said it provides a fascinating glimpse into the warrior culture of a period in Anglo-Saxon history.
The fittings are stripped from swords and seaxes - or single-edged knives - and are thought to represent the equipment of defeated armies from unknown battles during the first half of the seventh century.
They are intricately decorated with gold, silver and semiprecious gems, representing the finest quality Anglo-Saxon craftsmanship..
The entire hoard was bought for millions but in terms of its historical value it is priceless, he says.
He said: “The hoard’s discovery is of universal appeal.
"Unearthing buried treasure of international importance is a story I defy anyone not to be excited by. When considered as standalone art objects each hilt plate, pommel cap or sword pyramid is a breath-taking object, crafted from the finest materials by the most skilled of hands.
"You don’t have to be interested in swords to be awed by the hoard.”
Featured within the exhibition will also be items from the Wollaston Warrior group, discovered in Anglo-Saxon burial goods from the grave of an elite warrior, thought to be from the late seventh century.
The contents of the grave include an exceptionally rare helmet denoting the high status of its owner.
An events programme will complement the exhibition, including hands-on archaeology sessions, storytelling within the exhibition’s reconstructed Anglo-Saxon mead hall, handling sessions, crafts, art and combat demonstrations, plus a day-long conference, an after-hours tour and talk,
The aim is to bring the Saxon world to life during the exhibition.
Royal Armouries has also developed a range of education materials and sessions aimed at schools.
The treasure is owned by Birmingham City Council and Stoke-on-Trent City Council and cared for on their behalf by Birmingham Museums Trust and The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery.
It is currently undergoing one of the UK’s largest archaeological research projects, conducted by Barbican Research Associates on behalf of the owners and Historic England, who fund the project.
Entry to the exhibition is free. Full details at the Royal Armouries website at warrior-treasures.uk