New Saxon find at Tamworth Castle

New Saxon find at Tamworth Castle

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Posted 2022-07-10 by Tony Collinsfollow
A new piece of Saxon history has arrived at a medieval castle in Staffordshire to add to the knowledge of people in Anglo Saxon England. A Saxon gold piece and die stamp, which were found locally, have been donated to Tamworth Castle for all to enjoy. The find adds to the evidence that Tamworth was an important site within the ancient kingdom of Mercia, and confirms that the area produced high-end warrior regalia and treasures such as the famous Staffordshire Hoard. The gold piece and die stamp were found by metal detector enthusiast Bartek Oprzedek, who has devoted his time to work with Tamworth Borough Council's Castle Collections and Archives Officer, Sarah Williams, to make sure that the extraordinary finds are available for the public to enjoy. The Saxon die, also known as a die stamp, was used during the Anglo-Saxon period (7th-early 9th century) by craftsmen to create a pattern or relief imprint onto gold foil used for items such as jewellery and helmets.



Tamworth Borough Council's castle team has worked in partnership with Bartek and The Thegns of Mercia - an educational living history and reconstructive archaeology group - on developing the new exhibition. Thegns of Mercia coordinator, Aed Thompson, said: "We know that, from poor beginnings, the Mercians were just starting to become militarily powerful in the first half of the 7th century, but it was previously thought unlikely that they were making jewelled warrior regalia like the famous treasures from the Staffordshire Hoard. The discovery of a well-used helmet-foil stamp, together with a piece of scrap gold, is evidence of a jewellery workshop in the Tamworth area producing items like gold and silver-covered helmets for the early Mercian kings. It as good as stamps the words 'made in Tamworth' on at least some of the Staffordshire Hoard." He said the latest pieces helped support the theory that the area around Tamworth housed a royal centre, or 'capital' of the Kingdom of Mercia.



Working in collaboration with the Thegns, Staffordshire-based Anglo-Saxon jewellery expert Andrew Mason, was able to produce a replica of the stamp in cast bronze. During an unveiling at the castle celebrating the new acquisition, this stamp was used to produce a decorative helmet foil (pressblech) with the design for the very first time since the original stamp had been used to make decoration for a royal helmet more than 1300 years ago. As part of the exhibition, Tamworth Castle aims to add more pieces of the Staffordshire Hoard to the display, alongside items from the castle's collection. It will explore many exciting aspects of the Staffordshire Hoard including themes of battle, kingship and the warrior culture in Anglo-Saxon Mercia.



Councillor Rob Pritchard, Deputy Leader of Tamworth Borough Council, said: "This exciting find is a historic breakthrough for Tamworth, affirming the belief that Mercia was an important place in our history and that the most talented artisans were working to produce highly decorative jewellery, helmets, swords and other battle treasures. We are extremely honoured to have these very impressive pieces as part of our collections." For more information on the castle visit www.tamworthcastle.co.uk

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70710 - 2023-01-26 01:48:50

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