Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Mythical Saxon Hoard

It seems absurd that the 2009 discovery of treasure in Staffordshire has been trumpeted by all the archaeologists and newspapers as ‘proof’ that the Anglo-Saxons accepted Christianity far earlier than was thought. A cursory examination of the finds reveals Celtic knotwork designs. The Christian inscription on the buried hoard indicates a ‘Christian Saxon king’. The finds are contemporaneous with the sacking of the court of Cynddylan, King of Powys at Wroxeter, and the taking of the other capital of Powys, Pengwern (Shrewsbury). The gold was taken from the destruction of British (i.e. Welsh) monasteries and churches, and its provenance to Welsh gold mines can probably easily be made. A similar thing happened on a TV documentary analysis of Irish gold - they could not link it to any Irish gold mines because it was stolen from Wales when the Irish were pagan and the Welsh were Christian.

Why does no academic realise that the Romans came to Britain to get at the largest gold and coppermines in Europe, at Dolaucothi and the Great Orme, mines worked by the Celts for centuries? Welsh slate, copper, gold, silver and lead was exported on a huge scale. Why does no English academic understand that there were three Roman legions stationed in Britain, compared to one in each of their other far-flung provinces. Of those, one was in York, safeguarding most of England and Scotland. The other two were stationed on the Welsh borders, at Caerleon and Chester, with the most extensive network of Roman roads in Europe emanating from them to other major forts at Carmarthen and Caernarfon.

There were 1500 artefacts, the greatest find since Sutton Hoo, found near Lichfield, with around 5kg and 2.5kg of gold and silver items. The largest cross was folded, indicating a pagan burial. A gold strip reads, in Latin, ‘Rise Up, Lord - May your enemies be scattered and those who hate You be driven from Your face.’ The objects are dated between 650 and 750 CE, which was around the time that the barbarian Penda and Aethelred of Mercia were invading Christian Wales. Ironically, Lichfield Cathedral houses the so-called Gospel of St Chad, in fact the Book of St Teilo, stolen from Wales and claimed as English - but that is another story.