December 1, 2009

British Prime Minister supports keeping Staffordshire Hoard near to where it was discovered

Posted at 10:26 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

Since its discovery, many officials have publicly expressed the imperative for the Staffordshire Hoard to be displayed in the area where it was discovered – with the suggestion that displaying artefacts near to where they belong is the sensible approach to take. Now it appears that in this particular case, both the Prime Minister & the Director of the British Museum support the display of the hoard in the area where it was discovered. Whilst these aims are admirable, they are entirely consistent with the British Museum’s stance on many disputed foreign artefacts in its collection, which arguably present a far stronger case, insomuch as that they were once integral parts of a building – they have a true bont to this context, rather than being loose items that could be easily relocated to any part of the country / world.

Birmingham Post

Gordon Brown backs case to keep Anglo Saxon hoard in West Midlands
Nov 11 2009 by Jonathan Walker

There is “a very strong case” for displaying the historic haul of Staffordshire gold in Tamworth, ancient capital of the kingdom of Mercia, Gordon Brown has told MPs.

But whatever happened to the 1,500 items of treasure, the aim was that they should be housed in the West Midlands, he said.

The items, which could revolutionise our understanding of the Dark Ages, were unearthed by unemployed Terry Herbert using a metal detector in a farm in Brownhills, Staffordshire, in July.

But archeologists kept the find a secret until September, so that they could remove every trace of gold without worrying about thieves or souvenir hunters turning up to grab a piece.

Since then, a lively debate about where the items, which include gold sword hilts and early Christian crosses, should be stored.

They have already been put on display temporarily in Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, and Birmingham City Council is working with Stoke City Council and other local authorities to try to find a permanent home for it in the region.

Campaigners in Tamworth are also calling for it to housed there. At the time the gold was hidden, between 675 and 752 AD, Staffordshire was the heartland of the kingdom of Mercia, of which Tamworth was the capital.

The town’s MP, Brian Jenkins (Lab), asked Mr Brown to back the campaign, speaking in the House of Commons.

The MP said: “He will be aware of the recent discovery in Staffordshire of the largest collection of Anglo Saxon gold ever found.

“Would he give his backing to a plan to create in this region a Saxon tourist trail?”

In his reply, Mr Brown light-heartedly suggested residents should only be allowed to examine the gold – not to spend it.

He said: “I think he makes a very strong case for the gold going to Tamworth, but I think the British museum is concerned to make sure it does remain in the West Midlands and available for people to see, if not use.”

BBC News

Page last updated at 18:29 GMT, Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Museum ‘wants hoard in Midlands’

The British Museum is keen to see a haul of Anglo-Saxon treasure, which was recently unearthed in Staffordshire, remain in the West Midlands.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown told the House of Commons the museum was concerned to make sure it remained in the region for people to see.

He was responding to Tamworth MP Brian Jenkins who said the gold should be kept in Tamworth – “the Saxon capital”.

The hoard was found by a man with a metal detector in a field in September.

Terry Herbert found the gold, which comprises 1,600 items including sword pommels, helmet parts and processional crosses dating back from the 7th Century, in a farmer’s field.

‘Seven-figure sum’

Mr Jenkins told the House of Commons the gold should be kept “in the Saxon capital of the kingdom of Mercia – the town of Tamworth”.

Some of the collection is currently on display at the British Museum where it is being valued.

Experts have said they believe it is worth a “seven-figure sum”.

Councils and government agencies have agreed to combine to raise the money needed to keep the hoard in the West Midlands.

Under the Treasure Act of 1996, Mr Herbert and the landowner will share the monetary value of the hoard, which has to be paid for by the bodies or organisations wishing to display it.

Council leaders from across the region, officials from the Department of Culture Media and Sport, as well as representatives from the regional development agency Advantage West Midlands and the Heritage Lottery Fund have all said they will help to raise the money needed.

An official evaluation is expected to be given at the end of November.

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