MOSCOW, September 24 (RIA Novosti) - An amateur treasure hunter has stumbled across the largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver ever found buried in a Staffordshire field in central England, local media said on Thursday.
Terry Herbert from the town of Burntwood, who lives on disablement benefit, discovered the haul with his metal detector on farmland belonging to a friend. The 1,500 pieces made of gold and silver date back to the 7th century and comprise 5 kg of gold and 2.5 kg of silver.
"I have this phrase that I say sometimes; "spirits of yesteryear take me where the coins appear", but on that day I changed coins to gold," Herbert was quoted on the Telegraph website as saying. "I don't know why I said it that day, but I think somebody was listening and directed me to it."
"Maybe it was meant to be, maybe the gold had my name on it all along, I don't know. My mates at the [metal detecting] club always say if there is a gold coin in a field I will be the one to find it. I dread to think what they'll say when they hear about this," he said, adding the amount of treasure was "just unbelievable."
Experts have described the hoard, which could be as much as 1,400 years old, as one of the most significant finds in Anglo-Saxon history, the Birmingham Post said.
"Seeing the material for the first time was absolutely breathtaking," Duncan Slarke from the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery was quoted by the newspaper as saying. "I was there for 4 hours just looking at the material and the finder actually called me Duncan Wow - that was all I could say, wow."
"It was find after find after find of the most staggering quality," he said, adding research into the items, which were mainly battle-related, could be the basis of "never-ending study."
The find has been compared to the discovery of Sutton Hoo in 1939, which unearthed artifacts from Saxon burial mounds in England's eastern Suffolk County, the paper said.
"There is 5kg of gold found in the Staffordshire hoard and in Sutton Hoo it was less than 1 1/2 kg. In terms of quantity, it exceeds the best that we've got," Slarke told the Birmingham Post.
Experts are expected to estimate the treasure within a year. Terry Herbert will then receive his financial reward, expected to be at least 1 million pounds sterling ($1.62 million).
The collection will go on display at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery from September 25 until October 13.