Significant in the hoard is the discovery of two ( maybe three) gold Christian crosses and a ribbon of gold with a Biblical inscription, the only non-martial finds to be unearthed.
One of the crosses is a pendant cross designed to be worn and looks similar to the lost Thurnham cross form near Maidstone in Kent and to the cross buried with St Cuthbert ( died AD 687) – although this cross is decorated with filigree rather than cloisonnÃ© garnets like the St Cuthbert’s cross. The second cross is larger, either an altar or processional cross, and has been folded before burial.
The band of inscribed gold is particuarly fascinating and may be important in identifying a date for the hoard: the inscription, on both sides, is in Latin text reading:
surge d[omi]ne [et] dispentur inimici tui et fugent qui oderunt te a facie tua
which translates as:
rise up, o Lord, and may thy enemies be scattered and those who hate thee be driven from thy face
and is taken from two similar texts either from Psalm 67, 2 or from the the Old Testament Numbers 10, 35: ‘When he had lifted up the ark, Moses said “Rise up, Lord, and may your enemies be dispersed and those who hate you be driven from your face”.
Archaeologists hope that the style of script used in this inscription will identify a date for the hoard but here, too, there is controversy. Michelle Brown, Professor of Mediaeval Manuscripts Studies in London believes the style of lettering used implies a date of 7th or early 8th century – based on the use of unicel letter forms; whereas Professor Okasha of the University of Cork has identified traits – the use of insular majuscule – which sugggest a date of 8th or early 9th century.
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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