In July 2009 an amateur metal-detecting enthusiast made an astonishing find: 1,500 pieces of bejeweled gold and silver almost 1,500 years old, buried, lost, then forgotten. The treasure trove promises to shed unprecedented light on the most mysterious period of British history—the so-called "Dark Ages"—when the Saxons, Anglos, Celts, Picts, Jutes, and Vikings battled for control of the British Isles and a "mish mash of peoples evolved into a homogenous nation possessed with a strong cultural identity," according to New York Times bestselling author of the book, Caroline Alexander.
Alexander, author of the bestselling The Endurance and The Bounty, draws themes from the story of the spectacular treasure to explore the entire fascinating history of the Saxons in England; from the fall of Rome to the flourishing and seemingly incomprehensible spread of Saxon influence. Piece by piece, she draws readers into a world of near constant warfare guided by a unique understanding of Christianity, blended as it was with pagan traditions. Through heroic and epic literature that survives in poems such as Beowulf and the Legends of King Arthur, Alexander seeks to separate myth from reality and wonder, with readers, if the circumstances of the deposit of such a spectacular hoard have parallels in legendary tales. Peering through a millennia of mist and mystery, Alexander reveals a fascinating era—and a mesmerizing discovery—as never before, uncovering a dynamic period of history that would see its conclusion in the birth of the English nation.
Set in a landscape whose beauty endures, the story of the making of England emerges through a wealth of archaeological and written material. The story highlights the fluid nature of human societies and carries a surprisingly modern message of a successful, cohesive culture emerging from a diverse group of peoples.
Caroline Alexander is the bestselling author of The Endurance and The Bounty, and is widely recognized for her nonfiction writing. She is a frequent contributor to The New Yorker, Granta, Conde Nast Traveler, and National Geographic magazine.
Dr. Kevin Leahy, National Adviser for the Portable Antiquities Scheme at the British Museum, specializes in Medieval metalwork and is the expert who has been studying the hoard.