WASHINGTON (Oct. 5, 2011)—Glittering gold from ancient England is set to dazzle Washington, D.C., audiences this fall when the new National Geographic Museum exhibition “Anglo-Saxon Hoard: Gold from England’s Dark Ages” opens on Saturday, Oct. 29. On display for the first and only time in the United States will be more than 100 artifacts from the Staffordshire Hoard, the largest and most valuable collection of Anglo-Saxon treasure ever discovered. The exhibition will run through Sunday, March 4, 2012.
On July 25, 2009, metal detector enthusiast Terry Herbert discovered the collection on farmland in Staffordshire, England. Herbert, later joined by a team of archaeologists, unearthed more than 3,500 pieces and fragments dating from 650 A.D. The hoard, valued at more than $5 million, is made up of intricately designed articles of war, including helmet cheek pieces and sword pommels, as well as religious crosses. Experts believe that the treasure could be loot from a battle in the ancient kingdom of Mercia, one of the most powerful and aggressive kingdoms of the Anglo-Saxon era.
The hoard is owned jointly by the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery and the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent. When the treasure returns to Britain in 2012, plans for new, permanent galleries for the hoard at these two museums will get underway.
“We are thrilled to be the exclusive U.S. venue for this exhibition,” said Susan Norton, director of the National Geographic Museum. “‘Anglo-Saxon Hoard’ not only provides a terrific trip back to a time period many are unfamiliar with, but is also a reminder of the importance of continued exploration. There are wonders to be found both in remote territories and in our own backyards.”
The exhibition is divided into six sections exploring the discovery, craftsmanship, religion, war, daily Anglo-Saxon life, and the ongoing conservation of the objects. Video clips from the National Geographic Channel’s coverage of the hoard will be featured, along with numerous interactives and hands-on activities. Among the more than 100 artifacts on display will be elaborate gold and garnet sword fittings, decorative elements for helmets, crosses and a gold strip bearing a biblical inscription in Latin.
Throughout the exhibition run, the museum will offer visitors opportunities to learn more about the discovery of the hoard and Anglo-Saxon culture. These include an archaeology workshop in which kids will search a sandpit with a metal detector while completing a field journal; demonstrations of Uncial calligraphy, the writing style of the time period; and re-enactors reading portions of “Beowulf,” one of the most important works of Anglo-Saxon literature. For a complete schedule of these events, visit www.ngmuseum.org.
The hoard is also the focus of a major National Geographic cross-divisional effort in the coming months. In addition to the museum exhibition, the National Geographic Channel will feature the hoard in a new television special “Secrets of the Lost Gold,” premiering Monday, Nov. 7, 2011, at 9 p.m. ET/PT, during the network’s “Expedition Week.” Additional information is available at natgeotv.com. The hoard also will be the cover story of the November 2011 issue of National Geographic magazine and will be a feature in the November 2011 issue of National Geographic Kids magazine.
On Oct. 18, 2011, National Geographic Books will release “LOST GOLD OF THE DARK AGES: War, Treasure, and the Mystery of the Saxons” (National Geographic Books; ISBN 978-1-4262-0814; $35 hardcover). On Nov. 1, Caroline Alexander, author of both the book and National Geographic magazine article, will moderate a National Geographic Live panel discussion that will begin with a screening of the television special “Secrets of the Lost Gold” at National Geographic headquarters in Washington, D.C. Tickets can be purchased by calling (202) 857-7700 or online at www.nglive.org.
The National Geographic Museum, 1145 17th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C., is open every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. It is closed Dec. 25. Admission is $8 for adults; $6 for National Geographic members, military, students, seniors and groups of 25 or more; $4 for children 5-12; and free (reservation required) for school, student and youth groups (18 and under). Tickets may be purchased online at www.ngmuseum.org; via telephone at (202) 857-7700; or in person at the National Geographic ticket office, 1600 M Street, N.W., between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. For more information on group sales, call (202) 857-7281 or email email@example.com.
Photography exhibitions in the museum’s M Street gallery and outdoors are free.