Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Campaign to Save the Staffordshire Hoard begins

Historian David Starkey made a passionate plea for funds to keep the Staffordshire Hoard for the area where it was found. He was among several prominent public figures supporting the campaign, launched by The Art Fund charity, to raise the £3.3 million needed by 17 April to save this awe-inspiring find of Anglo-Saxon treasure for Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery and the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery in Stoke-on-Trent.

"Archaeological finds don't come any bigger than this," said Dr Starkey. "The Staffordshire Hoard is the largest and most valuable collection of Anglo-Saxon gold ever. But break it up or move it and its meaning is lost. It must stay here, together and intact, to be studied and displayed here in the West Midlands, the foundation of whose history it will now become."

The Art Fund’s new Director, Dr Stephen Deuchar, kick-started the public appeal by announcing an initial Art Fund grant of £300,000 and by unveiling the official donation website www.artfund.org/hoard. Birmingham City Council which runs Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery, announced that it is giving an initial £100,000 towards the campaign, and Stoke-on-Trent City Council which runs the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery will also give £100,000 bringing the sum already raised already to £500,000.

The battle to save the Staffordshire Hoard

Dr Deuchar said: “This is the most significant and beautiful treasure find from any era that has ever been unearthed in England. We are thrilled to be leading the public campaign and making an initial grant of £300,000 towards the £3.3 million total. For years to come the treasure will be a source of awe and inspiration for all to experience – and we – along with the rest of the nation – are very much looking forward to discovering its story.”

Tony Robinson, who presents the popular archaeology programme ‘Time Team’, was also on hand for the launch. He added: "To unearth such a collection of gold and silver is like something out of Indiana Jones. The hoard throws up so many questions - who owned it? Who buried it? Why? Once it's been properly examined there's little doubt it will reveal countless stories about our ancestors' lives in the so-called Dark Ages - but before we can begin to unravel its secrets we have to save it!"

Margaret Hodge, the British Minister for Culture and Tourism said, "Although there is a long way to go towards raising the target of £3.3m, I know how much the Hoard has captured the imaginations of local people, and so I am confident we’ll make it. The Hoard is incredibly significant to the understanding of our Saxon heritage and it is only right that it should be kept and displayed here in the West Midlands for future generations to enjoy.”

Once the hoard is bought, an extra £1.7m will be needed to ensure it can be properly conserved, studied and displayed.

Over the next 13 weeks events and activities will be taking place throughout 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 items never seen before, will be on display at the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent between 13 February and 7 March.

Click here to go to our Special Section on the Staffordshire Hoard