Staffordshire Hoard on display again

By on 12/02/2010 in News

Media opportunity: 6-7pm, Friday, 12 February, The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent, ST1 3DW.

mid_skyscraper_120x600_3Media will have the opportunity to talk to Michael Wood, Councillor Hazel Lyth, museum collection officers, The Art Fund director Stephen Deuchar, and the landowner on whose land the hoard was discovered Fred Johnson. Media should ask for press officer Andrew Brunt on 07827 283403 and register their interest in attending as soon as possible.

As fundraising efforts continue, historian and broadcaster Michael Wood will today (Friday) unveil the largest exhibition of the most valuable collection of Anglo-Saxon treasure ever found.

Michael, who has made more than 80 documentary films and presented a programme on Beowulf on BBC4 last year, will launch a display of 118 intricately crafted artefacts of the Staffordshire Hoard.

The exhibition will take place at The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, in Stoke-on-Trent and will be open to the public from Saturday 13 February to Sunday 7 March. The exhibition will be the first time so much of the hoard will be displayed at once, and will include 40 treasures that have never been exhibited before.

Michael said: “This is the most important find from Anglo-Saxon England since Sutton Hoo in 1939. This treasure contains even more gold and what is so fantastic about it is that it was dug up in what was the Kingdom of Mercia, the forerunner for the Kingdom of England.

“The treasure is so intriguing because it suggests all sorts of approaches to such an important period in British history.

“Having studied Anglo-Saxon history since my youth, it is such a thrill to look at this treasure - their world has suddenly come to light in such a vivid way. The glittering, barbaric world of warrior kings who fought battles and rewarded their fighters with treasure.”

Michael, who is a pro-vice chancellor of Staffordshire University, will launch the exhibition in front of more than 300 civic dignitaries, business leaders and invited guests at the museum tonight.

The treasures will then go on public display for three weeks, and museum opening times have been extended to cope with anticipated bumper crowds. The museum will be open from 10am to 5pm seven days a week throughout the exhibition.

Michael added: “The treasures provide a window into Mercia, fragments of what was a great European kingdom. It is so tantalisingly fascinating for anyone who lives in the Midlands and Staffordshire.

“It is very moving to see these treasures, I would urge everyone to come and have a look at them.”

The exhibition will feature treasures that have never been seen before including a delicate filigree gold horse's head and gold snakes that have left experts baffled as to what they could have been used for. It will include garneted sword pommels, sword mounts with animalistic designs, and possibly an eyebrow adornment to a helmet. The exhibition will also feature crumpled gold crosses, a helmet cheek piece and a gold strip with a biblical inscription.

Councillor Hazel Lyth, cabinet member for economic development and culture, said: “This is a unique chance to look into our ancient past and we want to give people as much of an opportunity as possible to view these 1,400-year-old treasures.

“The hoard is a world class tourist attraction and has great economic and educational potential for the region. A partnership of authorities in the region is working hard to recognise these benefits.

“Our exhibition will be one of the first events to mark centenary celebrations in Stoke-on-Trent - 2010 is one hundred years since the federation of the city's six towns. We are thrilled that our celebrations will include a royal visit next week - Their Royal Highnesses the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall will visit the city on Friday 19 February, and will have the chance to view and hold items from the hoard - the first time royalty will have held the treasures in 1,400 years. 

“The exhibition is the first time the treasure will be displayed in Staffordshire, the county in which it was found, but it may also be the last time it is displayed if we don't raise enough money to acquire it. We urge people to give generously and support a huge fundraising campaign.”

Stoke-on-Trent City Council is working with Birmingham City Council to jointly acquire the Staffordshire Hoard. The hoard comprises over 1,500 artefacts and has been valued at £3.285m. The Art Fund is leading a public campaign to raise the funds to buy the treasure.

Stephen Deuchar, The Art Fund director, said: “At this vital stage of the campaign, it's so important that the people of and visitors to Stoke-on-Trent can now experience the beauty of the treasure first hand. We hope that those who want the hoard to stay in the West Midlands will feel compelled to donate to the campaign and make sure we bring the treasure home, once and for all.”

-Ends-

Note to editors

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. The Art Fund is 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.

For media enquiries, please call Andrew Brunt at Stoke-on-Trent City Council press office on 01782 232671.

www.stoke.gov.uk/news

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