The Find That Could Change History; GOLD STRIKE TREASURE HUNTER TO SCOOP MILLIONS FOR BIGGEST ANGLO-SAXON HOARD

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Byline: Rashid Razaq

AN amateur treasure hunter searching his friend's farm with a metal detector has discovered the largest ever hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold.

The 1,345 items including gold and silver crosses, sword decorations and precious stones could rank as one of the most important finds in British history.

Experts say it could net the finder, 55-year-old Terry Herbert, a "seven figure sum".

Archeologists believe the haul could change our understanding of the Anglo-Saxons, who ruled England from the fifth century until the Norman conquest in 1066. Roger Bland, head of portable antiquities and treasure at the British Museum, told an inquest in Staffordshire that the significance of it was "only beginning to dawn" on the small number of experts who have examined it.

Mr Bland told the coroner: "It is at least as significant as any of the major discoveries of this period.

"It is assumed that the items were buried by their owners at a time of danger with the intention of later coming back and recovering them." Mr Bland said the hoard -- thought to date back to between 675 and 725AD -- was unearthed in what was once the Kingdom of Mercia.

It was discovered by Mr Herbert in July on private farmland near his home in Burntwood, Staffordshire. It contains about 5kg of gold and 2.5kg of silver, far bigger than previous finds -- including the Sutton Hoo burial site unearthed in 1939 in Suffolk.

It may take more than a year to value the collection, but Mr Herbert said he intends to split any reward 50/50 with his farmer friend, who owns the land.

Leslie Webster, former keeper at the British Museum's department of prehistory and Europe, said: "This is going to alter our perceptions of Anglo-Saxon England as radically, if not more so, as the Sutton Hoo discoveries. …