Warrior Treasures: Meet Jenni Butterworth, Project Coordinator

A selection of the Staffordshire Hoard will be shown in Leeds as part of the Royal Armouries ‘Warrior Treasures: Saxon Gold of the Staffordshire Hoard’ temporary exhibition, running from the 27th May until the 2nd October 2016. Here, Programme Coordinator Jenni Butterworth talks about her involvement in the project so far and her favourite elements of the hoard. Discover more at our exhibition conference day, Saturday 11th June, find more details on our micro-site http://warrior-treasures.uk/

IMG_1231I am the Programme Coordinator for the Staffordshire Hoard- I help the two museums that look after it with administration of the collection. I’ve done this job for over three years, but I’ve been lucky enough to be involved with the hoard on and off since it was discovered- I worked on the very first television programme made about it in 2010. It was a real privilege to interview the people who had been involved in the discovery- the farmer and the finder, and the archaeologists who were called in to deal with this extraordinary treasure. For everyone involved, it was a once in a lifetime event- tremendously exciting, but a huge responsibility as well.

I can still remember the very first time I saw the hoard in 2010- it was a few months after it had been discovered, and it was laid out so a number of experts could view it. The objects were still muddy and gathered together in bags and boxes. It was mind-boggling, the sheer number of items as much as the incredible craftsmanship and the gold and garnets. I remember thinking that the hoard was a bit like a comet. There were some fabulous, bright and shining objects at the front- the ones I’d seen pictures of in the newspapers. But there was also a very long ‘tail’- thousands of broken bits and small items that were much less glamorous but just as interesting. I wondered then how it would ever be sorted out!

Today, the ‘tail’ is a lot smaller than it was in 2010- lots of those broken fragments have been reassembled into larger objects- thanks to the amazing work of the conservation team and the archaeologists. The damage to the objects happened before they were buried and the way they are broken gives us vital information about the hoard- so every broken fragment is carefully recorded by the scientists and the conservation team before it is rejoined.


Xray plate SH_L80a_2013. ©Barbican Research Associates/ Lincolnshire Archives. All the hoard objects have been x-rayed. This plate shows small filigree items, some of which have since been joined to larger objects.

There are still a lot of small objects remaining, and my particular favourites are the rivets, pins and nails. There are quite a lot of objects which still have their pins and nails attached, and you can see them on some of the mounts and pommels in the Warrior Treasures exhibition if you look carefully.

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K16 with pin and mounting tab still attached (2 views)

The way the pins are bent has prevented them from falling out of their housing. Maybe they were bent when the pommel was levered off the sword hilt.

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K16 with pin and mounting tab still attached (2 views)

But there are many gold and silver nails for which we’ll probably never know which object they came from originally- because lots of objects have similar pins, it would be hard to be sure which pin came from which object exactly. Kayleigh has a ‘rivet box’ in which they all reside. I’m not sure she’s as fond of it as I am…


These tiny pins and rivets really remind me that the objects we have in the hoard only tell us part of the story. Originally, the objects were all attached to other, bigger composite items like swords, and these pins help us understand how they were all fixed together. There are astonishing range of pins of all shapes and sizes, each presumably to do a very specific task.

A selection of pins and nails (x3). The scales show how small some of these objects are.

A gold nail isn’t a very functional object though- gold is so soft that striking it with a hammer wouldn’t work- the craftsmen must have drilled a tiny hole into the bone or horn fitting first to hold the gold nail. We know from scientific analysis that various glues and cement-type fillers were used in the assembly of the objects, so maybe they were used to help hold the pins in place. The pins and nails also show us the attention to detail shown by the smiths who crafted the objects too- many are tiny works of art in themselves. The Saxon craftsmen were lavishing their skills on making the right nails and pins for the objects, just as much as on the fine filigree and garnet decoration.

Staffordshire Hoard - group shot

All images © Birmingham Museums Trust unless otherwise indicated.

To find out more about the Royal Armouries upcoming exhibition ‘Warrior Treasures: Saxon Gold of the Staffordshire Hoard’ please visit our exhibition microsite http://warrior-treasures.uk/

Join our Warrior Treasures exhibition conference Saturday 11th June to hear from leading experts in the field, who will explore the many aspects of this remarkable Anglo-Saxon find and explain how it is adding to our understanding of the people that made, used and buried this magnificent hoard. Please see full details and purchase tickets via this link https://www.royalarmouries.org/events/events-at-leeds/calendar/2016-06-11/warrior-treasures-conference-1





Warrior Treasures: The Grave of the Wollaston Warrior

As part of our blog series surrounding our upcoming exhibition ‘Warrior Treasures: Saxon Gold of the Staffordshire Hoard’  Claudia Rogers – PhD placement student at the Royal Armouries in Leeds – writes on the grave discoveries of the Wollaston Warrior. Discover more at our exhibition conference day, Saturday 11th June, find more details on our micro-site http://warrior-treasures.uk/

Claudia picThe Wollaston Warrior’s grave was first discovered in 1997 just outside the town of Wollaston in Northamptonshire. Alongside the scarce remains of the warrior himself, this seventh-century Anglo-Saxon grave contained a helmet (at the time, only the fourth Anglo-Saxon helmet to be recovered from England), a sword, knife, three iron buckles, a dress hook, and a copper alloy hanging bowl, with one surviving decorative mount.

During my PhD placement at the Royal Armouires in Leeds, I’ll be helping with the upcoming exhibition ‘Warrior Treasures: Saxon Gold from the Staffordshire Hoard’ – a collection of gold and silver military ornaments unearthed by an amateur metal-detectorist in 2009. In this exhibition, the Wollaston Warrior’s grave goods will be displayed alongside the small but stunning objects of the Staffordshire Hoard. Whilst the Warrior’s grave goods may not be as dazzling to the eye, they’re a precious collection of great archaeological and historical importance, and, I think, rather captivating in their own way.

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This is the Warrior’s small knife.

I’ve spent the first part of my placement in the Collections department, undertaking research on the Wollaston grave goods. After receiving object handling training, it was a pleasure to view the objects in stores for the first time. A number of the goods were quite hard to ‘see’, due to the state of their preservation: I was quite reliant on labels on the artefact’s cases when it came to identifying the knife and buckles, which were encapsulated in centuries of natural deposits. The copper alloy hanging bowl (see below) however, was instantly recognisable, with its striking green-blue copper colouring almost glowing. Unfortunately, the bowl (like many of the artefacts) was damaged in the grave before its discovery, most likely due to the shallowness of the grave itself. Although it was sad to see the bowl in various pieces rather than intact, I was amazed that I was handling an artefact that had been buried for over 1300 years – it’s incredible such a delicate object has survived at all.

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This is the largest buckle of the three. Found next to the scabbard, it likely functioned as part of the suspension system for the scabbard.

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This beautiful object is a basal escutcheon, a mount attached to the underside of the bowl for decoration. It originally featured about 24 squares of millefiori, a kind of ornamental glass.

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After viewing the grave goods, I was intrigued to learn more about who the Wollaston Warrior actually was. As the archaeological findings and excavation report established*, his skeletal remains are very fragmentary and poorly preserved, which really limits what we can find out about him. Most likely, though, he was a lightly-built adult who died before he reached the age of 25. Following the examination of his skeletal remains, Wollaston’s mystery man has been resting peacefully in Northamptonshire archaeological stores.

We can also learn more about the Warrior from the grave goods themselves, which indicate that the grave belonged to a male of high status. The hanging bowl, for example, was made from one sheet of bronze, requiring the talents of a highly-skilled craftsman. The bowl would have originally been suspended from three hooks and decorated with escutcheons: these embellishments would have been made of brass or high-tin bronze – rare alloys used sparingly to adorn high-status objects in the early Anglo-Saxon period. This bowl, then, certainly reflects the standing of the Wollaston Warrior, although it remains unclear what uses the bowl had. Historical research into early medieval hanging bowls generally focuses on their Romano-British origins, for which they’re often associated with Christianity and liturgical contexts. How the Anglo-Saxons adopted them for use, though, is still largely uncertain. Accordingly, what the Wollaston Warrior used his hanging bowl for remains a mystery (for the time being).

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The Hanging Bowl: Notice the holes along the rim section here – this is one of the points where the bowl would have been suspended from.

Along with researching the historical context of the Warrior and his grave, I’ve completed a number of different tasks during my time in the Collections department, as well as having the privilege of taking part in planning meetings and other ‘behind the scenes’ things. I found that one of the most challenging jobs was to draft exhibition labels for the hanging bowl, buckles, and dress hook – something completely new to me. Writing object labels definitely encouraged me to think about what’s most important about each of these precious artefacts, but trying to tackle all the key points about the artefact in question – age, production, physical description, state of preservation, purpose… – in less than 60 words made for an exasperating afternoon of word counting and calculations. Yet, despite the maths-related trauma, it was an enjoyable lesson in prioritisation and writing concisely; I hope it’s worth it in the end! I’ve certainly been kept on my toes.

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The next part of my work placement will be with the Interpretation team, focusing on the staging of the ‘Warrior Treasures’ exhibition. I’ll keep you posted with how I get on!

*Ian Meadows, An Anglian Warrior Burial from Wollaston, Northamptonshire (Northampton: Northamptonshire Archaeology & Northamptonshire County Council, 2004 [digital edition 2010])


An exciting new library acquisition…

Stuart Ivinson, Assistant Librarian at the Royal Armouries, Leeds, writes about an exciting new addition to our literary collection. 

The library at the Royal Armouries in Leeds has recently acquired a rare and beautiful addition to it’s Special Collection of historical fencing manuals. The book in question is a first edition, published in 1765, of Domenico Angelo’s  The School of Fencing, with a General Explanation of the Principal Attitudes and Positions Peculiar to the Art. (London: Printed for S. Hooper.)


The book was first published in England in 1763 under the French title L’Ecole d’armes avec l’explication generale des principales attitudes et positions concernant l’escrime. The 47 engravings that illustrate the work were produced from original drawings by the artist James Gwynn (Royal Academy). The illustrations were taken from life, and Angelo himself was the principal model.  The 1765 edition is the first in English, and the only edition to have parallel English and French text on each page. It is also the only edition to be illustrated in colour; Gwynn’s illustrations being re-used and hand-coloured for the new edition.


Angelo (full name Domenico Angelo Malevolti Tremamondo) was born in Livorno, Italy in 1717, the son of a merchant. He probably began learning to fence in Italy, but later studied the French style under the fencing master Monsieur Teillagory in Paris, after being sent to study international trade by his father in about 1744. Whilst in Paris Angelo met and fell in love with the celebrated Irish Actress Margaret Woffington, who was then on tour, and travelled to London and then to Dublin with her in the early-1750s. After their affection came to an end Angelo moved back to London, where he met and married Elizabeth Johnson in 1755.

In London Angelo gained the patronage of the earl of Pembroke and quickly established a reputation as a fencing master and opened his own School of Arms in Carlisle House, Soho, in 1761. Such was his reputation that he numbered many wealthy gentlemen amongst his clientele, including several members of the Royal Family. With the great and good of the gentry as his pupils, Angelo’s place in society was assured. His school was also noted at the time for accepting female students, including actresses from the London theatres.

In 1763 he produced his great work L’Ecole d’armes. It was financed by subscriptions from over 200 of his wealthy clients, and dedicated to Princes William Henry and Henry Frederic (younger brothers to King George III), who were both pupils. The English translation, The School of Fencing, was produced in several editions, though none were as lavish as the first edition of 1765. It is thought that he was assisted in translating the text into English by his friend the famous French-English diplomat, spy, and transvestite the Chevalier d’Eon, another former pupil of Monsieur Teillagory.


The School of Fencing primarily teaches the use of the small-sword and fencing foil, with brief sections on the use of weapons for the off-hand, including dagger, cloak and lantern. There is also a section on the use of the small-sword against the military sabre (or broad sword, as Angelo terms it). In its day the book was recognized as a clear and concise guide to fencing, and the author was lauded for his emphasis on fencing being a gentlemanly exercise and accomplishment, as well as a skill of self defence. Indeed, so good was the work deemed to be, that Denis Diderot used it – in its entirety (with redrawn engravings in black and white) – as the fencing section of his famous Encyclopedie.

In 1780 Domenico Angelo handed over the running of his school to his eldest son Henry and retired to Eton, where he died in 1802. Our copy of his book was purchased From Peter Harrington’s Bookshop, Chelsea, London, and is now available to view in the library at the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds (alongside a copy of the second English edition of 1787). Considering its age, the book is in very good condition. The colours of the engravings are as bright as when they were made, although a couple of them have pencil marks added; suggesting that at least one reader in the past has thought that the postures depicted in some of the illustrations aren’t quite right!

Henk Pardoel’s work Fencing: a bibliography, (2005) cites only seven other known copies of the first English edition in public collections world-wide, with only one other in Great Britain (at the Bodlean Library, Oxford).

To book an appointment to visit the library in Leeds, please contact enquiries@armouries.org.uk, or call 0113 2201832.

Warrior Treasures: An introduction to the Staffordshire Hoard by Pieta Greaves

Pieta Greaves is Staffordshire Hoard Conservation Coordinator at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. The items of the Staffordshire Hoard will be shown in Leeds as part of the Royal Armouries ‘Warrior Treasures: Saxon Gold of the Staffordshire Hoard’ temporary exhibition, running from the 27th May until the 2nd October 2016. Discover more details via our micro-site, including our conference day Saturday 11th June http://warrior-treasures.uk/. Here, Pieta introduces the Staffordshire Hoard and discuss the importance of its discovery. 

Pieta Greaves in Conservation 14The Staffordshire Hoard is the most spectacular Anglo-Saxon find since the excavation of the Sutton Hoo ship-burial (Suffolk) in 1939. It was discovered in July 2009 by a metal detectorist, a mix of gold, silver and garnet items weighing over 6kg. Detailed conservation and research of its around 4000 fragments  is not yet complete, but most of the collection consists of fittings from weaponry. These were stripped from swords and seaxes (single-edged fighting knives), at least one helmet and other items, and probably represent the equipment of defeated armies from unknown battles, of the first half of the 7th century. The decorative styles within the hoard fall into a few major types: the gold filigree work, cloisonné garnet decoration, niello (a black silver or copper sulphide compound) and the silver gilt foils.


The hoard laid on one table

Although fragmented, damaged and distorted, the hoard’s remarkable objects represent the possessions of an elite warrior class, stunning in their craftsmanship and ornament. Why it was buried, perhaps before c675 AD, we’ll never know.  Significantly it was discovered close to a then major routeway (Roman Watling Street), in what was the emerging Kingdom of Mercia. Warfare between England’s many competing regional kingdoms was frequent. The Staffordshire Hoard bears witness to this turbulent time in our history.

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A selection of objects from the Staffordshire Hoard

The large-scale conservation and research project into the treasure was launched in 2010, funded by the owners and Historic England. The ground-breaking work has uncovered internationally-significant objects that link us to an age of warrior splendour and are enabling experts to increase knowledge of 7th century Anglo-Saxon England.


Sword pommels and hilt plates

The conservation team at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, with Curatorial and Registrar expertise at The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, have been  working together to enable experts and specialists from across the UK and Europe to carry out specialist scientific analysis, investigative cleaning and X-ray photography of these amazing finds.

Blogs of the conservation and research work can be found on the Staffordshire Hoard website. We have also produced short films and podcasts with History West Midlands which can be seen and heard here and podcasts here.

The Anglo-Saxon specialist Chris Fern has been leading typological and stylistic analysis on the assemblage for the last 4 years, during which he has examined each item in the collection individually. He said: “The great Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf, once believed to be artistic exaggeration, now has a true mirror in archaeology… The Staffordshire Hoard links us with an age of warrior splendour. The gold and silver war-gear was probably made in workshops controlled by some of England’s earliest kings, to reward warriors that served those rulers, when multiple kingdoms fought for supremacy. The skill of the craftsmen is equally thrilling to behold, with many of the finds decorated with pagan and Christian art, designed to give spiritual protection in battle.”

Chris Fern (top right) and the conservation team, Lizzie Miller (top left) and Kayleigh Fuller (bottom).

Anglo-Saxon society would have valued the weapon blades themselves at least as much as the precious metal they contained, as evidenced by the poem Beowulf. The will of Prince Æthelstan in 1014 bequeaths to his brother, Edmund Ironside, what he described as Offa’s sword, which would have been already have been well over a century old by that date, the hoard itself contains some pommel caps that could have come from these heirloom swords. This raises many question of how and why the hoard came to be buried in a Staffordshire field: was it spoils of war, a royal treasure chest or a payment for services rendered? Further work by the research team will attempt to answer these questions.

Sam Richardson and Deb Klemperer from The Potteries Museum and project coordinator Jenni Butterworth.

The Staffordshire Hoard is owned by Birmingham and Stoke-on-Trent City Councils, and cared for on their behalf by Birmingham Museums Trust and The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery. It was acquired in 2010 with the generous support of the Art Fund and the National Heritage Memorial Fund, as well as public donations. It is currently undergoing one of the UK’s largest archaeological research projects, conducted by Barbican Research Associates on behalf of the owners and Historic England, who fund the project.

All images © Birmingham Museums Trust.

Meet the horse: Sonidor


Breed: Andalusian

Sex: stallion

Height: 16.1

Speciality: piaffe / passage

With his long and elegant limbs it’s easy to see how hundreds of years of intricate and careful breeding have made stallions like Sonidor the ideal choice for classical equitation. His flowing strides and exaggerated suspension give this horse all the grace of a dancer.


Meet the horses: Ocle

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Breed: Andalusian

Sex: stallion

Height: 15.2

Speciality: airs above the ground

12825325_1107887079255759_127032007_nOcle is a bold and confidant stallion. With extensive experience in film work and live performance, his courage and intelligence is easily admired! Trained to strike shields, gallop through flames and leap high off the ground in graceful airs above the ground, Ocle is a perfect example of the qualities desired in a war horse.

During the Royal Armouries Easter tournament, you will have the chance to see Ben of Atkinsons Action Horses working Ocle in ‘liberty’ (as seen below) which means he is controlling the horse without any reigns or restraints.To see this, purchase your tickets to the Easter Tournament here.





Meet the horses: Arthur


Height: 15.1

Sex: gelding

Breed: Andalusian

Speciality: airs above the ground


Gaze upon equestrian perfection, as Arthur coils muscle in the rhythmic dance that is the piaffe then leaps high, hind legs lashing out with bone shattering force – as you glimpse the violent truth of historical equitation! Performing in the long reins so he is free of saddle and rider, allow your eyes to feast on nature’s most intricate and awe inspiring design that is the horse.




Meet the Marshall: Lady of the Joust Kyle Van Dolah-Evans

Started riding: 3 years old in California12345636_1334318476595983_5073523824400523330_n

Started competing (show jumping/ eventing): 9

Top 10 young eventers in US by age 18

Moved to England: 2010

By day: Engineering planner

By Knight:

Performed at various displays (usually side saddle) for English Heritage, The Royal Armouries, and Destrier. Served as Lady of the Tournament for the Royal Armouries last year, and co-organizer of The Arundel International Tournament since 2013.

Started in tournaments in 2009 as ‘Master of the Horse’ for The Tournament of the Phoenix in California, came back as the ‘Lady of Honour’ (head of judging panel for that tournament, working with a Marshall) in 2010, 2011, 2012.

Kyle is the co-organizers of the Arundel tournament, and has been one of the lady judges for the past four years, judging the horsemanship and chivalry of the competitors.  In 2016 she will be the Marshall.  This position is traditionally held by the individual champion of the previous year, unfortunately the 2015 champion is unable to join us, so Kyle has graciously agreed to step into the role.  Kyle will be the first Lady Marshall in Arundel’s history.  She will be the head judge, supreme voice of authority on the field.  Kyle is well qualified to fill this role, having judged tournaments in the USA and England since 2009.  In addition to her tournament experience, she is an accomplished rider, having ridden and competed as an eventer since she was a young girl.  These days she often expresses her equestrian prowess  sitting side saddle, displaying more gumption than sense as she has been known to leap over dining tables, run relay races, throw javelins, charge at a quintain and fire a bow and arrow, all while riding side saddle.

Kyle 11 Armouries Tournament-1201 Armouries Tournament-13210356157_808922069183410_5457134923532182043_nKyle 511117262_808919059183711_211848918002520527_n21267_1030598516969331_8640527725909935847_nKyle 6

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Meet the Jouster: Andy Deane ('Old Iron-arm')


Andy Deane as individual champion at Arundel International Tournament 2014

Age: 51

Height: 180cm (5’9)

Weight: 82kg

Jousting since: 1993

Personal best/highlight: Leading the Royal Armouries team to victory a record breaking three times in a row for the coveted Sword of Honour in Leeds.

Motto: Fortis Labore (Strong work)

Strength: Experience.

By day: Visitor Experience Team Coach, Royal Armouries

By knight: (biography/career information)

As a young man-at-arms, in 1985, Andy strode out in front of an audience for his first ‘Trial by Combat’. Nervous, and with sword and shield in hand, he fought hard and well. That was it – he was hooked. As a boy Andy only ever wanted to be a knight, and that first combat gave him the thirst to practice all the martial skills of the medieval warrior. Having ridden horses since the age of four, to joust was the ultimate goal, and in 1993 Andy experienced the thrill of his first tournament as a jouster. In 1995 he joined the famous ‘Royal Armouries’ jousting team in Leeds, and had the honour of being captain of that team for many years. During this time Andy had the privilege of clashing with nearly all the top world jousters, past and present. Since that first combat thirty years ago, Andy has travelled across Europe, Asia, Canada and America performing and teaching the medieval martial skills needed by a knight to survive in tournament or battle.

Andy says “It is a privilege, once again, to represent the Royal Armouries at what is now the museums twentieth season of jousting here in Leeds. The truly international element of this years expanded tournament has ramped up my excitement at the prospect of crossing lances with some of the biggest, most aggressive Jousters ever seen in the museums arena.”

Additional talents: Open water diving, up to 30 metres.

Will Andy lead #TeamEngland to victory? Get your tickets to the Easter Tournament here to find out!

Watch Andy train his next apprentice in this short film…

See Andy’s epic training routine below in our epic mini-film with Leeds Dock’s Primal Gym – ‘How To Train a Knight’.

Fortis Labore

Andy Deane’s colours

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Meet the Jouster: Stacy Van Dolah-Evans #TeamEngland


Age: 401 Armouries Tournament-161

High: 5’11

Weight: 12.5 stone

Armour: Burgundian Export 1475-1490

Motto: Mors Aut Gloria – Death or Glory

Jousting: 16 years

Strengths: experience in Jousting & Melee.

Won the Royal Armouries melee at the Easter Tournament 2015.

Weakness: NONE! (Perhaps overconfidence?)

Stacy is the producer of the International Tournament of Arundel Castle and also one of England’s finest jousters. Stacy has ridden horses since childhood at a competitive level, and progressed into mounted 15th century cavalry and tournament in 1999 when he joined the UK finest 15th century cavalry re-enactment group Destrier.

He holds a deep interest in military horsemanship throughout history, and particularly enjoys recreating British Cavalry of the 18th and 19th centuries. This has led him to ride with the Queen’s Royal Lancers Display Team at such events as Royal Military Tournament, in presence of HM the Queen.

Stacy regularly competes internationally and comes to the Royal Armouries in 2016, on the back of a successful season in 2015 winning the individual jousting champion and mounted melee in Poland & team champions at the Arundel International Tournament. Stacy has also been a holder of the Queen’s Jubilee Horn & sword of honour the Royal Armouries’ coveted jousting trophies.  Other jousting Tournaments he has secured victory is Tournois du Ly’sArgent in Quebec and Arundel international team champions 2013.  He is very much on form and will be focused on adding another tournament trophy to his cabinet.


Stacy’s coat of arms

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Stacy was the winner of the Royal Armouries melee at the 2015 Easter Tournament

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