Britain’s most spectacular Anglo-Saxon treasures may well have been captured on a series of Dark Age battlefields – during bitter conflicts between rival English kingdoms.
…The hoard was made up of golden fittings from up to 150 swords, gold and garnet elements of a very high status seax (fighting knife), a spectacular gilded silver helmet, an impressive 30cm-long golden cross, a beautiful gold and garnet pectoral cross, a probable bishop’s headdress – and parts of what is likely to have been a portable battlefield shrine or reliquary.
…The ecclesiastical treasures and secular/military items appear to have been treated in a potentially disrespectful way before they were buried. They had been broken and/or folded and deliberately bent out of shape.
…Given the probable mid-seventh century date of the burial of the treasure, it is therefore possible that it was war booty captured by the pagan Mercian king, Penda, from armies led by Christians, such as the East Anglians.
One possible explanation is that the treasure was ritually buried as a Mercian pagan war trophy – perhaps even as a thanks offering to a pagan deity for delivering victory.