Secrets of the Anglo-Saxon goldsmith: Scientific results from the analysis of the Staffordshire Hoard gold
  • Devonport Lecture Theatre

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The next PDAS winter lecture is on Monday 7 November in the Devonport Lecture Theatre, starting at 19:00, hosted in conjunction with Peninsula Arts.

Dr Eleanor Blakelock will be discussing the research project studying the Staffordshire Hoard.

The discovery of the Staffordshire Hoard in 2009 in a field near the village of Hammerwich, Lichfield, Staffordshire, led to the development of a cross-disciplinary program to conserve, research and disseminate the find. The Hoard consists of the largest assemblage of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver objects found in the UK, roughly 3,500 items, most of which is battle regalia. Many different raw materials were brought together to create the objects in the hoard, including; precious metals including 1.433 kilos of silver and 5.094 kilos of gold, 3,500 cloisonné garnets, glass, organics and other inlays. Most of the material belongs to the sixth to seventh centuries, with some items dating to the eighth century and much is richly decorated with intricate interlace patterns carried out using a variety of techniques including cloisonné garnet and filigree.

 As part of the wider research project studying the Staffordshire Hoard a groundbreaking study of the gold was carried out. The work has revealed more details about workshop practice and from this, it is possible to outline some of the decisions made by the goldsmiths in the Anglo-Saxon period to enhance the appearance of the objects. One of these decisions showed a considerable degree of sophistication than first thought, where the goldsmiths were deliberately treating the gold to remove silver, making it more ‘golden’ in appearance probably to bring out contrasts in the designs. More work is required to understand the methods used by the goldsmiths.

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More about Dr. Eleanor Blakelock:

Dr. Eleanor Blakelock trained as an archaeometallurgist, and in 2012 finished a PhD studying Anglo-Saxon and Viking ironworking techniques. after carrying out her undergraduate degree at the University of Bradford, and her masters at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London. Her doctorate, at the University of Bradford, using iron knives to understand Anglo-Saxon, and Viking, iron-working techniques, and how Anglo-Saxon blacksmiths were e producing quality tools, with sharp cutting edges and some even had wonderful pattern-welded designs. For the past three years, she has been studying the metals in the Staffordshire Hoard, starting with the discovering of Anglo-Saxon goldsmith techniques that are the subject of this talk and has more recently been engaged in two projects centered on the metals of the Staffordshire Hoard at the University of Birmingham. As such, we are grateful for Dr. Blakelock for talking to us on this fascinating topic, and we are proud to be hosting this talk, and all of our future winter talks, with Peninsula Arts at Plymouth University.

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