The hoard, taken together, adds up to some eleven pounds of gold and more than five pounds of silver. The remark-able discovery was made by one Terry Herbert with his trusty metal-detector in soft soil in the Staffordshire countryside, right in the heart of the English Midlands. The estimated dates of the items — no doubt, these will be refined in time — range somewhere between the seventh to eight (or even early ninth) centuries. The dates and location, therefore, suggest that these treasures belonged to the Kingdom of Mercia during its ascendancy, not long after the Christianization of England. Indeed, one of the items is a gold band bearing a Latin inscription from the Book of Numbers (or Psalms), which seems to read: [.]irge domine disepentu[r] inimici tui et [f]ugent qui oderunt te a facie t[u]a.
What is a discovery like this worth? Let’s not even mention the record prices of gold recently (apophasis, I know; so here you go). Scott Nokes said it best, I think:
This BBC report is unintentionally hilarious […] Worth a seven figure sum, eh? How about “priceless,” instead? It’s rather like saying a lost child was found wandering the streets and “experts say his organs might fetch tens of thousands of dollars on the open market.”And naturally, it hasn’t taken long for the news sites (so-called) to begin invoking Tolkien with rather more enthusiasm than good sense, as here, where the Times Online compares the row between the landowner and the “metal detectorist” to the struggle for possession of Sauron’s Ring. I suppose such comparisons are inevitable, even if silly, but wouldn’t a better comparison have been made with the hoard of Smaug?
PS. The title of this post is a mash-up of phrases from the Old English Exodus and Maxims I (in the Exeter Book). Feel free to try your hand at translating it if you like, and leave your effort(s) as a comment. :)