Friday, September 25, 2009

A Real-Life Treasure Hoard

A little light posting this Friday morning...

So apparently un in Staffordshire, England someone this summer discovered and documented a massive hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold treasure. The quantity, as well as the quality, of the items is apparently remarkable and the likes of which have not been encountered before.

Here is a link to the Staffordshire Hoard Website.

Here is a link to the Wikipedia Article on the Hoard.

Here is a link to the first of 25 Photo Gallery Pages.

GMs, if you're running a historical or fantasy campaign and you'd like some examples of "ancient buried treasure", look no further than this site for some great inspiration. Some of these pieces are absolutely gorgeous looking.

3 comments:

The Devil's Janitor said...

Amazing find, absolutely amazing. This WILL redefine some history as we know it.

satyre said...

It's been compared in significance as being another Book of Kells - an awesome discovery.

1d30 said...

Thinking about this in context of D&D.

What's interesting to me is that the hoard was just 11 pounds of gold and 3 pounds of silver. It appears to be all in the form of jewelry and other quality craftwork, some pieces with precious stones.

At first, I thought, "110 GP and 30 SP". But then I realized it was all jewelry. In D&D the weight of jewelry isn't well-defined (the 1E DMG gives a pretty hefty weight and doesn't itemize many types) and appears to be disconnected with the value of the jewelry.

That said, there are about 1,400 pieces. About 860 are under 3 grams and about 510 are under 1 gram. Which leaves about 30 larger pieces. I'm rounding here, The Wiki has tighter numbers but those will change anyway as the hoard is cleaned up.

The value of the hoard, which The Wiki states is over a million pounds, seems low to me for something of such significance. Then again, it also looks like the state seized ownership of the goods according to its own laws, so the dudes should be happy to get anything.

I found a price of 10 pounds per gram recently. The silver is relatively worthless. Which means the hoard is worth almost 250,000 pounds melted down and stripped of stones. What are the stones worth, out of their settings?

Take that and multiply it by H for its historical and archaeological value, and by J for its jewelry value based on workmanship.

The issue to me is, unless the sum of J and H is <= 4, the state is screwing the adventurer and landowner.

Perhaps the jewelry value may not be that important, or inextricably linked to the historical value. after all, an 11-pound lump of gold is of some historical significance but not anywhere near as much as 11 pounds of jewelry.

But consider some ancient but not extraordinary pottery shards worth several pennies in material value, but worth dozens of dollars in historical value. The J+H multiplier would be well into the double digits.

Of course, a D&D adventurer generally finds very old hoards sometimes. But unless there's a sage willing to buy all the loot at some J+H multiplier the adventurer should just sell it off piecemeal to whoever will buy at current market prices, then sell the rest to a mint in exchange for new coins.

Regardless, the hoard you mentioned really ought to be valued at far more than the price they're giving them.