Dame Judi Dench joins Hoard campaign

By on 03/02/2010 in News

Dame Judi Dench has joined the glittering list of celebrities who have pledged their support to save the £3.3million Staffordshire Hoard for the West Midlands, independent charity The Art Fund announces today.

News of Dame Judi's support comes on the day that The Art Fund launches a new interactive element to its dedicated microsite www.artfund.org/hoard.

From the comfort of their own home, members of the public can now join the craze for treasure hunting that has been sparked by the find of the extraordinary hoard of Anglo-Saxon treasure in Staffordshire.  'Buy Your Dig Site' is a virtual map of the field where the Hoard was discovered.

For a donation of £5 individuals can try their luck by “digging” a square of the field to see if it reveals an item of the Hoard. Players can buy as many virtual squares as they wish to boost the campaign. Everyone who gives to the fundraising appeal to save the Hoard for the West Midlands by playing the game can elect for their name to appear when a mouse is hovered over the virtual piece of land which they have dug.

Dame Judi Dench said:  “It is essential that the Staffordshire Hoard should be kept and displayed in the area in which it was found.  It would have so much more meaning to visitors, and it would be a great boost for the area.”

Dame Judi Dench joins a growing list of stars backing the campaign to save the awe-inspiring Staffordshire Hoard for the West Midlands. Other supporters of the campaign include West Bromwich-born comedian Frank Skinner, ex-Rolling Stone and metal detector enthusiast Bill Wyman, and Tony Robinson, presenter of Time Team. The three major political party leaders have also pledged their support.

The Art Fund is spearheading the campaign raise £3.3million to save the Hoard before the deadline of 17 April. Comprising over 1,500 pieces of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver, the Hoard is the most valuable Treasure ever found on British soil. The campaign was launched in Birmingham on 13 January by historian Dr David Starkey. So far over £550,000 has been raised. If it is successful the Hoard will be jointly acquired by Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery and the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery in Stoke-on-Trent.

Throughout the duration of the campaign events and activities will be taking place in the West Midlands to raise funds to keep the Staffordshire Hoard in the region. More than 80 of the most significant artefacts from the Hoard, including an intricately decorated gold horse's head that has never been on show before, will be on display at the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent between 13 February and 7 March.

All donations should be given via the official campaign website www.artfund.org/hoard or by telephone on 0844 415 4004; Cheques can be sent to The Art Fund, Freepost LON 17186, PO BOX 2003, Kirkcaldy, KY2 6BR.

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Notes to editors:

Screengrab images of the interactive treasure hunting game are available on request.

The Campaign
The Art Fund is leading the campaign to jointly acquire the treasure for Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery and the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery in Stoke-on-Trent. We are working in partnership with the councils of Birmingham, Lichfield, Staffordshire, Stoke-on-Trent and Tamworth as well as Advantage West Midlands, Staffordshire University, British Museum, Museums Libraries and Archives Council and the Government Office for the West Midlands. If successful, the hoard will go on show in Birmingham as one of the proposed highlights of the UK City of Culture Bid Programme of events in 2013. A series of other displays will also be planned across the region, as part of a Mercian Trail that will explore the history of the Hoard. The exhibition at the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery between 13 February and 7 March will be one of the first events to mark centenary celebrations in 2010 of the federation of Stoke-on-Trent’s six towns.

The Staffordshire Hoard
The treasure was discovered in a field in the West Midlands in July last year by metal detectorist Terry Herbert. The find was reported to Duncan Slarke, Finds Liaison Officer of the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS), who contacted Roger Bland, Head of the PAS and Kevin Leahy, National Finds Adviser. Birmingham Archaeology carried out the excavation, funded by English Heritage, and this was completed within a month. The Hoard was sent to the Coroner of South Staffordshire and declared treasure on 24 September 2009. On 25 November 2009 the Treasure Valuation Committee reached its valuation of £3.3 million, and the museums interested in acquiring the Hoard were asked to confirm their intentions. The TVC then generated an 'invoice' to the museums, giving four months from this date for the money to be raised. This gave the 17 April deadline. The Hoard comprises over 1,500 items made of gold, silver and precious stones, and dates back to the 7th Century. Mostly military in nature, it is by far the largest find of Anglo-Saxon gold ever recorded, with over 5kg of gold and 1.3kg of silver. The craftsmanship and beauty of the pieces indicate possible royal ownership, and promise to transform our understanding of the lives of the Anglo-Saxon people, and the role the region then known as Mercia played in history.

In addition to the £3.3million needed to acquire the Hoard a longer term fundraising strategy is underway to raise a further £1.7million to ensure that it can be properly conserved, studied and displayed. This brings the total long term fundraising target to £5million. Any money raised in addition to the initial £3.3m will go towards that £1.7m needed.

 

The Art Fund
The Art Fund is the UK's leading independent art charity. It offers grants to help UK museums and galleries enrich their collections; campaigns on behalf of museums and their visitors; and promotes the enjoyment of art. It is funded from public donations and has 80,000 members. Since 1903 the charity has helped museums and galleries all over the UK secure 860,000 works of art for their collections. Other recent achievements include: helping secure Titian's Diana and Actaeon for the nation in 2009 with a grant of £1million; helping secure Anthony d'Offay's collection, ARTIST ROOMS, for Tate and National Galleries of Scotland in February 2008 with a grant of £1million and funding its nationwide tour with an additional £500,000 over two years; leading the successful £550,000 appeal to keep Turner's Blue Rigi watercolour in the UK, and spearheading campaign to ensure Dumfries House in Ayrshire and its contents were secured intact for the nation in July 2007. For more information contact the Press Office on 020 7225 4888 or visit
www.artfund.org.

The Art Fund is a Registered Charity No. 209174

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