Yesterday's thin sunshine found me up in the field, head down, kicking at molehills with the toe of my boot. Why? Looking for gold of course - inspired by the 'Staffordshire Hoard' Exhibition at the Potteries Museum in Stoke on Trent. I imagine a large percentage of the 45,000 others who have also visited it have their heads down too hoping to spot buried treasure - not in our field of course (that would be silly).
At the door we receive the first of 3 hand stamps - quite what the purpose of stamps 2 and 3 were I don't know. They're a good topic of conversation and we discuss celtic knots and fugitive 'inks'.
Then with the final stamp we were in the exhibition itself and only slightly disappointed to find that of the more than 1500 items unearthed only about 80 are on view. Those objects are miniscule too - the banners and photographs which illustrate the exhibition have led us believe that we would be seeing huge golden artifacts, big treasure. However, there is very little larger than a matchbox; much is crumpled and incomplete. Most of the exhibits are still encrusted with soil and are as they were when a metal detecting enthusiast found them in July 2009. There is speculation that because the Hoard contains no 'feminine' or domestic items - many of the items adorned weapons and armour - it may be spoils of war. The workmanship is extremely fine - the 7th century gold and silversmiths must have been very skilled craftsmen indeed.
Soil or no soil, the glister of gold is unmistakable, it's brightness undimmed by 1300 years underground. One piece was discovered on the surface, turned up by the plough. Imagine stumbling across that by chance - and chance it would be - like finding the proverbial needle in a haystack.
Which is why I've been looking - as I'm sure there's treasure in these hills somewhere. I've not much to show for it though. The molehills have given up 3 pieces of clay pipe stem so far: