Saxon Gold


After the Roman Empire collapsed, different groups of people started taking over large territories in Britain. Yorkshire was heavily populated by Saxon tribes who had arrived from the North Sea and were of Germanic origin.
The Saxons settled and the Anglo-Saxon period or the dark ages as it was known as, lasted from around c500 to 1066. Most of the information we know about the Saxons comes from the Saxon Chronicles – a collection of annals in Old English chronicling their history. It was created in the late 9th century. Another source of information mainly comes from the Saxon burials that we have found in the UK. Excavations of such burial sites have uncovered jewellery, tools, weapons and other items that gave an insight into the daily life of these people.
Many burial sites though had been disturbed long before the archaeologists reached them with grave robbers throughout history looting the barrows for their stores of treasure. Most Saxon treasure has been found in graves, but a couple of hoards have been located over the years. The most famous Saxon hoard was found in Staffordshire which was the largest hoard of gold, silver and metalwork yet discovered from this time period.
However, one such hoard was discovered right here in Leeds a few years ago. This gold hoard was unearthed by a metal detectorist in the Aberford area in two stages in 2008 and 2009. This location has only just been revealed, as it has been a closely guarded secret until just a few weeks ago. The artefacts were acquired by Leeds Museums and Galleries in 2012 following a fundraising appeal the previous year, along with grants from the Art Fund, the Friends of Leeds City Museums and The Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society.
The success of the appeal saved the hoard from public auction, and the artefacts have since been on temporary display. The hoard has now gone on display in Leeds City Museum and has been called the most significant find of jewellery from the Anglo Saxon period ever in the Leeds area. The British Museum’s Portable Antiquities Scheme also named it among the leading finds in the UK over the last two decades.
Six objects in the hoard are gold, including four rings, a gold brooch fragment and a gold ingot fragment. Also found was a lead spindle whorl which was used to spin wool. One of the rings comprises a lozenge shaped bezel set with a garnet. The jewellery is finely and artistically crafted with incredible detail. It is in great condition due to the amazing quality of the gold and the soil conditions it was found in which has helped it look so good 1200 years on.

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