The Pectoral Cross. Image courtesy Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

Saxon Hoard: a Golden Discovery will be shown on BBC2 on Thursday, 26 January from 8pm.

Historian Dan Snow uncovers the secrets of one of Britain’s most significant discoveries – the Staffordshire Hoard. Found by an amateur metal detecting enthusiast in 2009, the cache of 3,500 items offers an array of new clues into the Dark Ages, and the presenter pieces together the lives of the people who lived in these kingdoms.

Following the initial find, Alex Jones, director of Birmingham Archaeology and his colleagues were invited to excavate the site, Birmingham University said. Mr Jones said it was fantastic news for the region and raised the importance of heritage research. “Being a partner in one of the most exciting archaeological discoveries of our time is something we can all be proud of,” he said.

Experts have so far established that there were at least 650 items of gold in the haul, weighing more than 5kgs (11lb), and 530 silver objects totalling more than 1kg (2.2lb) in weight. Copper alloy, garnets and glass objects were also discovered at the site. Duncan Slarke, finds liaison officer for Staffordshire, was the first professional to see the hoard, which contains warfare paraphernalia, including sword pommel caps and hilt plates inlaid with precious stones. He said he was “virtually speechless” when he saw the items. “I saw boxes full of gold, items exhibiting the very finest Anglo-Saxon workmanship,” he added.

Source The Radio Times and BBC News.