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Staffs Hoard helmet pieced together

Painstaking work to piece together thousands of metal fragments from the Staffordshire Hoard has uncovered two more examples of 7th century "warrior splendour".

Researchers say the internationally important silver helmet and a previously unseen form of sword pommel were probably made in workshops set up by some of England's earliest kings.

Both items from the hoard, found in a field near Lichfield in 2009, have been put on display at Birmingham's Museum and Art Gallery.

Historic England has so far allocated £400,000 to help conserve the hoard, including work to clean the silver, gold and garnet objects and fragments.

Birmingham City Council and Stoke-on-Trent City Council, which jointly own the hoard, now aim to raise £120,000 for further work to assemble more artefacts from individual pieces of metalwork.

Chris Fern, project archaeologist, said: "The gold and silver war-gear was probably made in workshops controlled by some of England's earliest kings to reward warriors that served those rulers, when multiple kingdoms fought for supremacy.

"The skill of the craftsmen is equally thrilling to behold, with many of the finds decorated with pagan and Christian art, designed to give spiritual protection in battle.

"The newly recognised pommel is truly exciting. It combines multiple different styles of ornament, much in the same way as the earliest 7th century illuminated manuscripts do, like the Book of Durrow."

The pommel suggests the coming together of Anglo-Saxon and British or Irish high cultures, experts believe.

Duncan Wilson, Historic England's chief executive, said: "Since its discovery in 2009, the Staffordshire Hoard and the stories behind it have captured the public imagination.

"As technology and research methods develop we are able to discover more and more, and share the results, but more money needs to be raised to capitalise fully on this rich potential."

Members of the public can make donations to the conservation work at www.staffordshirehoard.org.uk/donate

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