LONDON: Part of the biggest hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver ever found in a country field will go on display at a museum on Friday.
The Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery will host few selected items from the collection until October 13.
Terry Herbert , 55, an unemployed metal detectorist unearthed the trove of at least 1,350 items, including five kilos of gold and a smaller amount of silver in July near his home in Burntwood, some 15 miles north of Birmingham.
The haul, which is potentially worth a fortune, was officially declared 'treasure' on Thursday by a coroner, who has the legal right to decide the status of such finds.
It is believed to date from the seventh century AD, and may have belonged to Saxon royalty. The treasure includes sword hilt fittings inlaid with precious stones, helmets, crosses and a strip of gold bearing a Biblical inscription in Latin.
"This is absolutely phenomenal. When I first saw the material I was absolutely staggered," said Duncan Slarke, Staffordshire's Finds Liaison Officer, who was the first professional to see the hoard.
"To see the volume and the quality of this Anglo-Saxon precious metalwork was absolutely stunning and I was literally speechless."
Presenting the find at a press conference at the museum, archaeologist Kevin Leahy said none of the experts involved had seen anything like it before.
"These are the best craftsmen the Anglo Saxons have got, working with the best materials, and producing incredible results," he said.
Herbert -- who spent five days digging up treasure before calling in expert archaeologists -- described what happened on the day he made the find.
"I have this phrase that I say sometimes; 'Spirits of yesteryear, take me where the coins appear', but on that day I changed coins to gold," said the Herbert, who took up metal detecting as a hobby 18 years ago.
"I don't know why I said it that day, but I think somebody was listening and directed me to it... This is what metal detectorists dream of, finding stuff like this. But the vast amount there is is just unbelievable."
After five days scouring the field with his trusty 14-year-old detector, and digging up ever more treasure, his emotions turned to fear at the scale of his find -- so he eventually called in the experts.
He said: "I was excited when I started digging up the gold but it was frightening in the end. I was getting frightened about other people getting onto the field, night hawkers.
"It was like a burden on my shoulders, it became a worry," he said.
The treasures were found surprisingly close to the surface: some at such a shallow depth that they appeared to have been struck by a plough, in an area about 20 yards long in a cultivated field.
"I think what happened was that the plough just nicked the top of the deposit," said Roger Bland, the Head of Portable Antiquities and Treasure at the British Museum.
"I think if it had come back again the next year we would have seen quite a bit of damage."
While the value of the treasures has not yet been decided, it is likely to make Herbert a rich man, and he is expected to share the money with the farmer in whose field it was discovered.
"It's been more fun than winning the lottery," he said. "People laugh at metal detectorists. I've had people go past and go 'beep beep, he's after pennies'. Well no, we are out there to find this kind of stuff and it is out there," he said.
One expert told him it was like finding Tutankhamen's tomb, he said. "I just flushed all over when he said that. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up, you just never expect this."