Saturday, September 26, 2009

Official Staffordshire Hoard Site

There's now an official Staffordshire Hoard website. They're also using the Twitter hashtag #staffshoard for archiving comments.

The site gets into some of the issues of value of the hoard that the international media elided in their "Metal Detectorist Finds Treasure" storyline. In response to the question, "How much is the Hoard worth," they respond sensibly:
Artistically and historically is impossible to price.
However a Treasure Valuation Committee consisting of independent experts, will recommend a valuation to the Secretary of State. The Committee will commission valuations from leading auction houses and experts in the antiquities trade.
This will be a very difficult task given the unprecedented nature of the Hoard.
The Hoard contains approximately 5kg of gold and 1.3kg of silver, giving it a 'scrap' value of over £100,000 (by contrast the Sutton Hoo find contained 1.6kg of precious metals).

Though I confess to finding a few things annoying here*, by-and-large the Portable Antiquities Scheme seems to have done a good job at using the latest social networking technologies to get the information out there quickly. In very short order they've used Flickr, Twitter, etc., and given the rest of the scholarly community a chance to get at least a preliminary glimpse.

Terry Herbert doesn't hurt the cause, either. You can imagine a situation in which the person discovering the Hoard would be a bit embarrassing, but he's quite articulate, and (so far, at least) doesn't appear to have let all this go to his head. At the end of one interview (embedded below), he says, "Stuff like this is still in the ground ... is there anything better than this to be found?" In those two sentences alone, he's managed to do more for the popular perception of medieval studies (and, I suppose, metal detectors) than I'll probably be able to accomplish in my entire career.

*Such as the line, "It will redefine the Dark Ages." Dark Ages? Did this quote come from a time-traveling scholar from 1909?


  1. Anonymous8:37 AM

    The hoard website was mentioned in the original press release, so I think it's part of the whole coordinated PR operation, which has been done very well indeed I think. However, I can testify that it was offline within hours of the news hitting the web, having been thoroughly overwhelmed... It looks like the place to check for updates.

    (I quite like the term Dark Ages. As long as you remember it's only relative, it seems to avoid the difficulties of 'late Antique' and evokes the sort of mystery that medievalism thrives upon.)

  2. Daniel Pett9:56 AM

    The website was never actually down, response times decreased as the server was inundated with requests.
    I wouldn't have used the "Dark Ages" quote if I had a choice.....