New Rare Discoveries From Anglo-Saxon Treasure Hoard

Archaeologists have recently made a startling conclusion about the famous Staffordshire Hoard, the largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver metalwork ever found. Backed by a £400,000 grant from Birmingham Museums Trust, Historic England, and the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, the research has shown two new remarkable, rare discoveries: a reconstructed helmet and a sword pommel. Both of these finds are giving archaeologists great insight into seventh century Anglo-Saxon England.

Warrior splendor: engraved helmet among rare discoveries

The gear unearthed was most likely made in workshops for England’s earliest kings, crafted to present to warriors who had served their lord heroically. The designs on the weaponry feature incredible depictions of pagan and Christian art, and combine multiple ornaments, denoting impeccable artistry.

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Archaeologists have pieced together a grand collection of 1,500 thin silver sheets and strips, which they believe to have once composed a helmet. This would make it the fifth helmet to be unearthed. Many of these helmet fragments measured less than 10 millimeters across, and depict designs showing male warriors, animals and mythical beasts. Many of the warriors shown on the designs also wear helmets themselves — they are likely spiritual or ancestral figures, carved on to power warriors with courage during battle.

Along with the helmet, the team also reconstructed fragments of a “helmet band,” which would run through the circumference of the helmet. It depicts a gold-gilded frieze of warrior. The team speculates that this helmet might have once been worn by a prince, or even by a king. This one differs from the helmet unearthed at the ship burial site of Sutton Hoo (1939), which was made of silver.

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A unique pommel among Staffordshire’s rare discoveries

There have been over 70 pommels — the portion that fits at the end of the sword grip — discovered in the Staffordshire Hoard, but none can rival the newest find. The newly reconstructed pommel was reassembled from 26 fragments, and, while it is Anglo-Saxon, it features probable British or Irish art styles. The garnet stone placed at the center of the pommel, along with the glass-inlaid disc, seems to form the shape of an early Christian cross. On the backside of the pommel is a motif of three serpents. It could very likely be that both Christian and pagan beliefs are reflected on these rare discoveries of weaponry and armor.

The pommel also has a rounded hump on its side, known as a “sword ring.” This pommel would have had to sword rings, unlike most sword rings found in England and Europe during this time period — making it seem all the more extravagant and unique.