National Geographic : 2011 Nov
• One day, or perhaps one night, in the late seventh century an unknown party traveled along an old Roman road that cut across an uninhabited heath fringed by forest in the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Mer- cia. Possibly they were soldiers, or then again maybe thieves---the remote area would remain notorious for highwaymen for centuries---but at any rate they were not casual travelers. Stepping o the road near the rise of a small ridge, they dug a pit and buried a stash of treasure in the ground. For 1,300 years the treasure lay undisturbed, and eventually the landscape evolved from for- est clearing to grazing pasture to working eld. en treasure hunters equipped with metal de- tectors---ubiquitous in Britain---began to call on farmer Fred Johnson, asking permission to walk the eld. "I told one I'd lost a wrench and asked him to nd that," Johnson says. Instead, on July 5, 2009, Terry Herbert came to the farmhouse door and announced to Johnson that he had found Anglo-Saxon treasure. The Staffordshire Hoard, as it was quickly dubbed, electri ed the general public and Anglo- Saxon scholars alike. Spectacular discoveries, such as the royal nds at Sutton Hoo in Suf- folk, had been made in Anglo-Saxon burial sites. But the treasure pulled from Fred Johnson's eld was novel---a cache of gold, silver, and garnet objects from early Anglo-Saxon times and from one of the most important kingdoms of the era. Moreover, the quality and style of the intricate filigree and cloisonné decorating the objects were extraordinary, inviting heady comparisons to such legendary treasures as the Lindisfarne Gospels or the Book of Kells. Once cataloged, the hoard was found to contain some 3,500 pieces representing hun- dreds of complete objects. And the items that could be securely identi ed presented a striking Contributing writer Caroline Alexander wrote the June 2008 cover story about Stonehenge. Robert Clark drove more than 3,000 miles to complete his 30th National Geographic story. is is Daniel Dociu's rst assignment for the magazine.