The story of the discovery of the largest 1,300-year-old Anglo-Saxon treasure in history in a muddy field and the eternal feud between the two men who found it

It was the find of a lifetime and made them both millionaires.

But when jobless Terry Herbert discovered the largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon treasure in history in farmer Fred Johnson’s muddy field, it also sparked extraordinary tensions between the two men.

Now, despite each receiving an equal share of the money from the £3.3million treasure, their relationship has soured so badly that Mr Johnson, 67, has banned Mr Herbert, 56, from his farm.

That was then: Terry Herbert with some of the 1,500 pieces which made up an Anglo-Saxon hoard – valued at £3.28 million, according to the British Museum said

Off my land: Fred Johnson labelled Terry ‘greedy’ and said: ‘I never want to see that fella on my land ever again – he’s banned’

Both men have also spoken of their regrets at making the find.

The rift began when Mr Herbert revealed a desire to search for more treasure on Mr Johnson’s land.

Reacting with fury, the farmer said: ‘I wish I’d never met the man. It has caused me nothing but bother, all this.

‘I never want to see that fellow on my land ever again. To be honest, I got fed up with him from the start. I was fed up of his greed.

‘From the moment he found the hoard all he wanted to talk about was how much money we were going to get for it and that, no matter what we do, we shouldn’t accept the first offer. I couldn’t have cared less.’

Valuable: A hilt fitting, which was part of the hoard found by Mr Herbert

Decorative: A scabbard boss, found the 14-year-old metal detector

It was 18 months ago that Mr Herbert’s find on Mr Johnson’s land in Brownhills, Staffordshire, was announced.

The 1,300-year-old haul included beautiful gold sword hilts, jewels from Sri Lanka, exquisitely carved helmet decorations and early Christian crosses.

Within days former coffin factory worker Mr Herbert, using an 18-year-old metal detector that cost £2.50, had filled 244 bags, including gold objects alone weighing more than 11lb. Archaeologists believe the loot was buried at the site by a king or warlord who was killed before being able to retrieve it.

Mr Johnson said at the time that he was ‘not happy’ with Mr  Herbert because they had ‘agreed to keep it all low-key’, adding: ‘It  is not about the money for me, it’s an incredible find for the country and that’s what is more important.’

The Staffordshire Hoard was  valued by the independent  Treasure Valuation Committee at the British Museum and purchased by the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery.

Going for gold: The hoard included a battered 7th-century golden cross

Mr Johnson and Mr Herbert received their shares of the money at the end of 2009.

Mr Johnson is building a new house on his farm while Mr Herbert has moved from his council flat in Burntwood, Staffordshire, to a luxurious bungalow nearby.

But despite apparently having much to be grateful for, the  simmering ill-feeling between the two has erupted into an all-out slanging match.

Yesterday, Mr Johnson said: ‘It’s not like we were ever friends  anyway.

‘He was just very persistent so I let him on my land.

‘Sometimes I just wish one of  the poor veterinary students had found it instead, because it would have set them up for life rather than me.’

Mr Herbert responded by  claiming Mr Johnson was unhappy that he was forced to split the cash.

He said: ‘I think Fred wanted all of the money and is now resentful he has had to share it.

‘He’s acting like a child and cutting his nose off to spite his face.

‘It does hurt my feelings that he has taken this stance.

‘Now, I’m not sure there is anything we can do to patch things up. Sometimes I wish I’d never found that hoard.’

He claimed that five years before he dug on the field where he found the hoard, he was ‘warned off’ and told Mr Johnson ‘would want all of anything that was found’.

‘But when I eventually went on there and found the hoard, Fred could not have been less interested at first,’ he said.

‘Fred wanted everything kept quiet at first, even though I told him it was not realistic.

‘But the next minute he is all over the TV, so I decided to let him have all the glory in the end. He has always had a bad attitude and this just sums him up, I’m afraid.’



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