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Staffordshire Hoard discoverers still at war ten years later

Staffordshire Hoard discoverers still at war ten years later

Two men who uncovered £3.3million worth of Anglo-Saxon treasure – dubbed the Staffordshire Hoard – remain at war 10 years after they fell out over the discovery.

Terry Herbert, 64, discovered the ancient gold and silver haul on 75-year-old farmer Fred Johnson’s land.

Their find, on July 5, 2009, became an international sensation and was sold off to museums, leaving the men rich.  

But the duo fell out over the cash, with Mr Herbert claiming Mr Johnson wanted it all for himself.

He even said his find of 3,900 artefacts – Britain’s largest ever haul of Anglo-Saxon treasure – was a curse and blamed it on ruining his friendship with Mr Johnson. 

 The Staffordshire Hoard was found on land belonging to farmer Fred Johnson’s (pictured)

Terry Herbert, 64, (pictured) uncovered £3.3million worth of Anglo-Saxon treasure – dubbed the Staffordshire Hoard – on farmer Fred Johnson’s land

Mr Herbert, who was unemployed at the time, found the treasure using a metal detector bought in 1995 at a car boot sale for £2.50. Pictured: the location of the haul

Metal detector fan Terry made the find on farmer Fred’s Staffordshire land

Their find, on July 5, 2009, became an international sensation and was sold off to museums, leaving the men rich. Pictured: a reconstruction of a helmet found

Some of the artefacts uncovered in Fred’s field that went on to be valued at more than £3m

Some of the artefacts uncovered in Fred’s field that went on to be valued at more than £3m

At an event to mark the 10th anniversary of the discovery, Mr Johnson admitted he and his former friend had failed to bury the hatchet.

He said: ‘It’s wonderful treasure. I just don’t want to talk about Terry.

‘I would rather concentrate on the positives, like all the people this discovery helped me meet.’

Asked whether he regretted losing Mr Herbert as a friend, he added: ‘My only regret is that I didn’t keep a diary and address book.

‘Terry was never a friend, so I haven’t lost any friends. He hasn’t got in touch.

‘I think people should go to see and enjoy it. I think enough has been said about that [their feud].’

Mr Johnson, who drives a Land Rover Defender and owns John Deere tractors, lives alone in a new bungalow on the land where the treasure was found.

He said: ‘I haven’t spent all the money yet and I won’t say what on. But I’ve made some sensible investments.

More of the £3.3m Staffordshire Hoard, including (top row, left to right) a gold strip with a biblical inscription and a hilt fitting; and (bottom row, left to right) a gold sword fitting, The Folded Cross and a scabbard boss

But the duo fell out over the cash, with Mr Herbert claiming Mr Johnson wanted it all for himself. Pictured: visitors view some of the pieces uncovered

Mr Herbert, who was unemployed at the time, found the treasure using a metal detector bought in 1995 at a car boot sale for £2.50 

‘The money was a plus but seeing the treasure coming out of the ground was a wonderful experience.

‘I was there when the piece with the inscription [an inscribed piece of gold alloy which might’ve been attached to a shield] came up.

‘I wish there had been more pieces with inscriptions that could’ve shed more light on where it all came from.

‘It was really thrilling and the money was secondary. They have people working on it full time in the museum.’

Mr Johnson said he never tries looking for any remaining treasure and he is busy on this arable farm.

He said: ‘It [his land] has been gone through like a minefield. There is nothing left. Not many members of the public tried to find anything.

‘Some people would write to me asking permission but I’d chuck the letters in the fire.’

Meanwhile Mr Herbert moved from a council flat in Burntwood, Staffordshire, to a plush bungalow nearby.

He refused to attend the anniversary event which was organised by Staffordshire County Council.

The Staffordshire County Council archaeologist at the time Stephen Dean said the 5kg of pure gold and 2.5kg of silver was mainly on helmets, swords and shields and most probably belonged to royalty or nobles

The hoard was valued at £3.285 million and Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery and the Potteries Museum Art Gallery jointly bought it

Mr Herbert, who was unemployed at the time, found the treasure using a metal detector bought in 1995 at a car boot sale for £2.50.

The Staffordshire County Council archaeologist at the time Stephen Dean said the 5kg of pure gold and 2.5kg of silver was mainly on helmets, swords and shields and most probably belonged to royalty or nobles.

For five days he scanned a 5m by 3m patch of field and found more and more gold and silver.

He informed the Finds Liaison Officer for the Staffordshire and West Midlands Portable Antiquities Scheme and Mr Johnson gave permission for the land to be excavated.

On September 24, 2009, the South Staffordshire Coroner announced the find to be treasure and it was made public.

The hoard was valued at £3.285 million and Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery and the Potteries Museum Art Gallery jointly bought it.

There were hours-long queues at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery where the jewels were displayed. 

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