May 20, 2010

Staffordshire Hoard saved from the nation

Posted at 1:18 pm in Similar cases

Following donations from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the Staffordshire hoard will be saved for the nation & displayed in a museum in the region where it was found. This is great news for the preservation of Britain’s cultural heritage, but yet again I find the difference in opinions about retaining our heritage to the importance of others retaining their heritage astonishing.

The Independent

Staffordshire Hoard ‘saved for the nation’
By Danielle Dwyer, Press Association

The Staffordshire Hoard has been “saved for the nation” after a cash boost from a Government heritage fund, it was announced today.

The collection – the largest ever find of Anglo-Saxon gold – was unearthed on Staffordshire farmland by a metal detector enthusiast last year and later valued at £3.3 million.

Today the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF), the Government’s fund of last resort for heritage items at risk, pledged £1,285,000.

The grant, added to the amount already raised during a nationwide fundraising drive, means that the hoard can now be purchased and displayed permanently in the UK.

The fundraising drive to ensure the hoard remained in the region where it was found was overseen by The Art Fund, an independent charity.

A spokeswoman said: “The Art Fund is delighted to announce that the Staffordshire Hoard, the largest archaeological Anglo-Saxon find ever unearthed, has been saved for the nation.”

Members of the public donated more than £900,000 towards the appeal, which also received financial support from Birmingham and Stoke city councils.

The campaign had been set a deadline of April 17, meaning it reached its target more than three weeks ahead of schedule.

The Art Fund’s director, Stephen Deuchar, said: “We have been absolutely bowled over by the enthusiasm and fascination the Staffordshire Hoard has sparked amongst the British public, as well as visitors from abroad.

“It is wonderful news that the National Heritage Memorial Fund has enabled the target of £3.3 million to be reached ahead of the deadline, and I hope that this will give the West Midlands a head-start with the next stage in fundraising for the conservation, research and display of the treasure.”

Historian and broadcaster Dr David Starkey helped to launch the fundraising campaign in Birmingham on January 13.

Reacting to today’s announcement, Dr Starkey expressed delight that the treasures would be saved for posterity.

“This is wonderful news for historians worldwide – the Staffordshire Hoard provides us with vital clues to our ancient past, and now we can set about decoding them,” he said.

Martin Mullaney, Birmingham City Council’s cabinet member for leisure, sport and culture, said: “Not only have we managed to raise the necessary £3.3 million to return the hoard to its rightful home a month ahead of schedule, but a staggering £900,000 of this has been raised by personal donations.

“I have been overwhelmed by the public response and can’t thank enough everyone who has given and supported our campaign in helping us bringing the hoard home.”

More than 100,000 people have so far viewed items from the hoard, which have been on display in Stoke-on-Trent, Birmingham and at the British Museum.

In addition to public support from people living as far afield as Japan and the United States, the campaign has received substantial donations from trusts and foundations.

However, The Art Fund emphasised that a further £1.7 million must be found so the hoard can be properly conserved, studied and displayed.

Plans for the future conservation and interpretation of the hoard include the creation of a “Mercian Trail” which would highlight the history of Mercia, the Anglo-Saxon kingdom which covered the West Midlands area.

The hoard was found last July in a field near Hammerwich, on the border between Staffordshire and the West Midlands, by metal detectorist Terry Herbert.

Officially declared to be treasure by the South Staffordshire Coroner, the hoard contains over 1,500 mostly gold objects, including some inlaid with precious stones, and is thought to date back to the 7th century.

Historians believe the collection, which may have once belonged to royalty, could alter perceptions of Anglo-Saxon England.

The £3.3 million raised to acquire the hoard will now be split equally between Mr Herbert and Fred Johnson, the owner of the field in which it was discovered.

Speaking last month, Mr Johnson said he felt privileged rather than proud that the hoard had been unearthed on his land.

“You can be proud of something you have done yourself – this was just an incredible stroke of luck,” he said.

Museums Assocation

£1.285m for Staffordshire Hoard

The National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) today granted £1.285m to Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery in Stoke-on-Trent, allowing the museums to jointly purchase the Staffordshire Hoard, worth a total of £3.285m.

But according to Ian Van Arkadie, head of community services at Stoke-on-Trent City Council, the hoard, which contains some 1,500 objects, may not go on display for as long as two years, pending research and conservation work overseen by the British Museum in conjunction with the two Midlands museums.

“We need to bear in mind that research and conservation may have to take priority in the short term,” he said. “But we would hope to put a small collection on display to maintain interest.”

Van Arkadie said the hoard would be split between the two museums, then rotated regularly. He added that they were also looking at the possibility of making short term loans to other local museums and that in the future consideration would be given to loans to other UK museums and overseas museums.

The Potteries museum is now looking to raise £500,000 to refurbish its archaeology gallery, where it will display the hoard.

Alongside the NHMF funding, a public appeal raised £900,000, a further £600,000 was donated by trusts and foundations, The Art Fund donated £300,000, and Birmingham City Council and Stoke City Council both contributed £100,000.

The hoard dates from around the 7th century and, in total, is made up 5kg of gold and 1.3kg of silver.

Historian David Starkey said: “The Staffordshire Hoard provides us with vital clues to our ancient past and now we can set about decoding them. I’m delighted that all the other funding bodies and the generous public have helped save these breathtaking treasures for posterity.”

Culture minister Margaret Hodge said: “This is fantastic news. The great thing about the NHMF, and the reason we fought so hard to maintain its funding for next year in a tight economic climate, is that it can move quickly to help save items at very short notice.

”The Staffordshire Hoard is a great example of this. Thanks to this grant, these superb items will be able to stay, and be enjoyed, where they belong: in the Midlands where they were discovered.”

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport awarded the NHMF an extra £5m as a one-off payment this year, which it will be allowed to carry into the next financial year.

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