Having visited Soho House, we headed back into the centre of Birmingham, to dry out and warm up with lunch at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, the museum is a one of those classical buildings, built when such cities were rich and philanthropists gave generously. Its galleries have high lantern windows in the roof, and it being such a grey day, there were times some of the galleries felt a little dreary, I wanted to ‘put the big light on’!
But there was no shortage of bright shiny things in what we had come specifically to see, Staffordshire Hoard, some of the 4,0000 items, from the sixth and seventh century AD, found by a metal detectorist in a field, nr Litchfield in Staffordshire. My photos are somewhat dismal, as per the light, so I’ll direct you to the excellent website for the find
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The craftsmanship in these items is astounding, I was blown away by it; over 3,500 garnets, from the Czech Republic and Indian subcontinent, delicate braided gold and gold foil what puzzles me is how on earth the makers managed to see to do this work, what tools do you use to slice garnets in to wafer thin slices, and then place them over gold foil, to make them sparkle? They must have had perfect vision, no glasses or magnification and no ‘big light’ would have been available, they must surely have all been under the age of 40, to see what they were doing, they’d have had to perfect their craft from an early age? (Mind you, I don’t imagine life expectancy was very long either!)
What a find for the detectorist and the farmer who owned the field! There was a fear once the significance and scale of the find started to emerge, that the finds might fall victim to Nighthawkes, who would plunder the items for their value as scrap, what a tragedy that would have been, so as a deterrent, whilst the archaeological dig was underway a rumour was allowed to grow that it was a police murder investigation that was going on in the field.
We’d rather like it if another series of The Detectorist, would return, a rare, gentle and rather lovely drama, set in ploughed fields, and the accompanying music is all of those things too.