"Rise up O Lord, and may thy enemies be dispersed and those who hate thee," reads the Latin inscription on this strip of gold--a fitting bit of Bible verse for a war-torn place and time, Britain in the Dark Ages (roughly A.D. 500 to 1000).
The silver gilt strip bearing a Biblical inscription in Latin is one of the most significant and controversial finds in the Staffordshire Hoard.
Rivet holes show that it was originally fastened to another, larger object. We are not yet sure what this was, but it might have been something like a reliquary or the cover of a Bible. A decorative stone, possibly a garnet, was set into the now empty mount at one end of the strip, whilst an animal head adorns the other end.
Incised into each face of the strip is a verse from the Latin Bible (Numbers 10:35). The text is slightly different on the two sides, but it is clear that the outer side is the most important one since the incisions for the letters have been filled with a dark, silver compound known as niello. There are two spelling mistakes in the Latin.
This suitably warlike outer inscription reads (mis-spellings bolded and underlined):
'Surge domine et disepentur inimici tui et fugent qui oderunt te a facie tua'
The text should read:
'Surge domine et dissipentur inimici tui et fugiant qui oderunt te a facie tua'
When translated, the inscription reads “rise up, o Lord, and may thy enemies be scattered and those who hate thee be driven from thy face”.
Michelle Brown, Professor of Medieval Manuscript Studies, has suggested the style of lettering dates from the seventh or early eighth centuries. The relatively crude lettering may have been the work of someone more used to writing on wax tablets.