The Staffordshire Hoard Fieldwork, 2009-2010
By Alex Jones
Paper given at the Staffordshire Hoard Symposium, held at the British Museum, March, 2010
Summary: Two stages of fieldwork were undertaken at the site of the Staffordshire Hoard. The first, in July-August 2009, was solely concerned with the safe and systematic recovery of the hoard. Test-pitting was followed by excavation, which confirmed that the hoard was contained within the ploughsoil. The strategy for recovery involved the excavation of a total of 155 square metres, working outwards from the initial test-pit. Within each metre square, the ploughsoil was hand-excavated in spits and repeatedly scanned with a metal detector to ensure that all objects, however small, were recovered. A total of approximately 800 objects were recovered by test-pitting and excavation. No features associated with the hoard were identified. The few features identified, comprising an irregular possible ditch, a gully and possible post-holes, were all undated. A geophysical survey was also undertaken to attempt to set the discovery within its immediate context.
Although the first stage of fieldwork was successful in its sole aim – to safely recover the hoard – it left many questions unanswered. The second stage of fieldwork, undertaken in March 2010, attempted to place the hoard within its immediate archaeological context. This stage of fieldwork involved further geophysical survey, test-pitting and trial-trenching. The further geophysical survey identified a number of linear and possible pit-like anomalies of which a selection was tested by trial-trenching. Most were found to be geological in origin. Trenching also identified two lengths of an undated palisade trench. Also investigated was a re-cut field boundary, also recorded in the First Edition Ordnance Survey map. Most significant perhaps was the total absence of any finds which could be associated with the hoard – confirming that the hoard had been fully recovered in Summer 2009. None of the features identified in March 2010 could be directly associated with the hoard.