Shropshire Star

Author pens debut novel inspired by story behind Staffordshire Hoard

An author from Telford who was inspired by the story of the Staffordshire Hoard has penned her debut novel – an historical fiction that imagines what could have happened to the treasure back in AD 675.

Author Ruth Burn, with her book 'The Morning Gift'

Ruth Burn has released her debut novel after having visited the Staffordshire Hoard exhibition many times, and becoming fascinated by the story behind it.

The Staffordshire Hoard is the largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver metalwork yet found, and Ruth was inspired by the possible stories behind its location.

The hoard was discovered in 2009 in a field near the village of Hammerwich, near Lichfield. The location was in the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Mercia at the time of the hoard's deposition.

Ruth, from Preston upon the Weald Moors, in Telford, has now released 'The Morning Gift: The troubled quest of an Anglo-Saxon princess' based on the treasure and the people involved with it.

"This is my first book so it was quite exciting," Ruth said. "The inspiration for it was that I had visited the Staffordshire Hoard exhibition several times and got quite intrigued by the story behind it.

"At the time it was said to date from AD 675 but now they think the treasure might have come from a bit earlier. During lockdown this was a great project.

"The work is of historical fiction but based on real people and events. The plot follows a troubled royal marriage during the course of one year in AD 675, and how the treasure might have been lost."

The book is set during a time where Mercia and Northumbria have been at war for a long time. An unexpected romance kindles between King Aethelred of Mercia and Osryth of Northumbria, who decide to marry.

Aethelred gives Osryth a wedding gift of valuable treasure gleaned from the battlefields of the past. She decides in secret to take the treasure along with the remains of her long-dead uncle to a shrine in Bardney in Lincolnshire.

Osryth faces many challenges and setbacks on her long journeys to places such as Whitby, Lincoln and later York. The loss of the gold, silver and jewels causes a rift in her marriage.

The book asks whether the treasure will ever be found and will the couple ever be reconciled?

Ruth, who has a legal background, added: "The Staffordshire Hoard was such a huge thing, and still nobody really has quite worked out exactly what happened and the story behind it. So this is a story that explains one of my theories.

"I really enjoyed writing the novel, especially during lockdown. You sort of have to convince yourself, this is what actually happened, to enable me to write the story.

"I did a post graduate degree years ago so I had to write a big thesis, so I am used to writing for big projects. Writing a book is something I've always wanted to do and lockdown actually enabled me to do that."

The book is available from Waterstones, WH Smith and all good bookshops.

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