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An intranational restitution claim from Anglesey

Along with international restitution claims, there are also many intra-national ones such as the Lindisfarne Gospels [1], where a local region wants artefacts returned that are typically in the country’s national museum many miles away.

Western Mail (Wales) [2]

Elgin Marbles tug-of-war repeated in Anglesey
Jan 18 2010 by Rhodri Clark, Western Mail

IT’S like the Elgin Marbles Part II – a geographical dispute about a priceless hoard of prehistoric treasure.

But this time international diplomacy is not involved – because the argument is between North and South Wales.

About 150 Iron Age artefacts were discovered in an Anglesey bog in 1943 and sent to the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff for safekeeping and display.

The Llyn Cerrig Bach collection remains the biggest Iron Age hoard ever found in Wales.

Now some islanders want the artefacts returned, for local people to see them without having to travel to Cardiff and back.

They say a permanent display of the treasures would help attract vital tourism to Anglesey, one of Wales’ poorest counties even without the closure of its aluminium plant and nuclear power station.

The museum plans to release some for a temporary exhibition in Llangefni, but Anglesey councillors Gwilym O Jones and Philip Fowlie want originals on permanent display locally.

“In the old days, when these were discovered, they were all taken to Cardiff. It was common sense then,” said Mr Jones, whose ward includes the bog where the treasure was found.

“Now we’ve got a gallery which has been upgraded to display work by Kyffin Williams, which is very valuable. According to the Government in London, the security of the gallery is up to requirements.

“I accept that these objects are of national and international interest. I accept that it’s important that some are in the National Museum in Cardiff, but there should be opportunities to bring some of these treasures back to Sir Fôn so they’re shown to the local people and visitors who come to the island.

He said one solution could be a permanent display in Llangefni’s Oriel Ynys Môn but with treasures rotating between Cardiff and Anglesey. When one group of objects returned to the capital, another group would replace it. A display of Llyn Cerrig Bach treasures could bolster the island’s appeal to history enthusiasts. Anglesey’s prehistoric remains include burial chambers, standing stones and hut circles. An exhibition on Neolithic life and death opens at Oriel Ynys Môn next month. The National Museum of Wales said it would not be returning original treasures for permanent display on Anglesey.

Richard Brewer, keeper of archaeology, said: “We have been working with staff at Oriel Ynys Môn in developing educational resources for schools on Anglesey, which will include production of high quality replicas of significant items from the Llyn Cerrig Bach collection as a long-term resource, so that people can learn more about its significance and of the history behind the objects.”

In coming years, staff at Oriel Ynys Môn intend to work with the museum to create a temporary exhibition of key original objects from Llyn Cerrig Bach, he said.

Eflyn Owen-Jones, whose father discovered the treasures, said she was campaigning to raise money for replicas of some objects for local display which would be useful because they could be taken to schools where they could be handled, rather than being kept in a glass cases. When the originals occasionally came for display at Oriel Ynys Môn, she was always pleased to be invited. She said her father, William Owen Roberts, was involved in dredging peat from the bog to extend RAF Valley’s runway. He used an old chain found in the bog to tow a lorry which had become stuck. It was later identified as a chain for an Iron Age slave gang.