An amateur treasure hunter prowling English farmland with a metal detector stumbled upon the largest Anglo-Saxon treasure ever discovered, a massive collection of gold and silver crosses, sword decorations and other items, British archaeological experts said on Thursday.
One said the treasure would revolutionize understanding of the Anglo-Saxons, a Germanic people who ruled England from the fifth century until the Norman conquest in 1066. Another said the find would rank among Britain's best-known historic treasures. "This is just a fantastic find completely out of the blue," said Roger Bland, who managed the cache's excavation. "It will make us rethink the Dark Ages. That's basically what it's going to do."
The seventh century hoard, found by 55-year-old Terry Herbert on farmland in western England two months ago, consists of about 1,500 pieces of gold and silver, some inlaid with precious stones. So fine is the craftsmanship that experts say it could have belonged to Anglo-Saxon royalty.
Herbert, from the town of Burntwood, found the gold on July 5 and spent the next five days scouring a stretch of farmland for the rest of the hoard.