The discovery of the hoard in Staffordshire is interesting, for Staffordshire was near the heart of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Mercia.
There were three major Anglo-Saxon kingdoms: Wessex, Northumbria, and Mercia. Mercia is the least known of these, but in the 8th century, it was perhaps the more powerful. It first became noticed under King Penda (626 to 655) but it came to the forefront under King Aethelbald (716 to 757) who, because of his prowess as a military leader, acquired the title Bretwalda, or King of Kings. He was succeeded by Offa (757 to 796) who was the greatest of the Mercian kings and who extended their power still further, even down as far as London. The hoard is probably to be dated before the accession of Offa: would his predecessor Aethelbald have recognized some of the hilts?
This comes from Current Archaeology 236, which contains the definitive guide to the Staffordshire Hoard, out on the 1st October. Subscribe now to reserve your copy
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