A host of prominent public figures are supporting the campaign, launched today by The Art Fund charity, to raise the £3.3m needed by 17 April to save the Anglo-Saxon treasure for Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery and the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery in Stoke-on-Trent. MLA's Roy Clare said: “The Staffordshire Hoard has fired the imagination of the public - since news broke of these amazing treasures our many partners have worked together to ensure a swift and positive launch of the campaign.”
Historian Dr David Starkey today made a public plea for funds to save the Staffordshire Hoard for the West Midlands. He is amongst a host of prominent public figures supporting the campaign, launched today by The Art Fund charity, to raise the £3.3m 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.
The Art Fund’s new Director, Dr Stephen Deuchar, kick-started the public appeal by announcing an 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.
Dr Starkey said: "Archaeological finds don't come any bigger than this. The Staffordshire Hoard is the largest and most valuable collection of Anglo-Saxon gold ever; it's the most important find for over half a century, and, in terms of the history of Middle England, the most important 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."
Dr Stephen 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 £3.3million 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.“
Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) Chief Executive Roy Clare said: “The MLA is committed to securing culturally significant items for the nation. The Staffordshire Hoard is a spectacular example. It has fired the imagination of the public and underlines the role of artefacts in developing awareness of our national history and identity. The find has focused attention on the interpretation of heritage collections; and raises the profile of museums as places of learning and inspiration. Since news broke of these amazing treasures our many partners have worked together to ensure a swift and positive launch of the campaign. It is essential to raise the funds to ensure that the Hoard is secured for Britain and for the West Midlands region in particular.”
Councillor Martin Mullaney, Birmingham City Council Cabinet Member for Leisure, Sport & Culture said: "I am delighted that The Art Fund has joined us in our efforts to raise the money required to secure this extraordinary piece of the nation's history. We know from the 40,000 visitors that came to Birmingham to see this extraordinary treasure, how passionately they feel that we must bring it back to the West Midlands for the benefit of all. Therefore, I can announce today that Birmingham City Council will be contributing an initial £100,000 towards the fund to help bring it back home to the region."
Councillor Hazel Lyth, Stoke-on-Trent City Council Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Culture, said: “We are pleased to announce capital funding of £100,000 to support the acquisition of this incredible treasure.
The Staffordshire Hoard is one of the most significant and important finds ever made in this country. And Stoke-on-Trent City Council is committed, along with Birmingham City Council, to do everything it can to save the treasure for the country and ensure it stays in the region it was found. The funding will be off-set by the tremendous long-term economic benefits this treasure will bring, in terms of attracting visitors and tourist spend; educational benefits; and a lasting cultural legacy. We welcome The Art Fund’s grant and Birmingham City Council’s funding. We are pursuing funding from other public funding bodies as well, and urge the public to support the campaign and make a donation.”
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.
All donations via the official campaign website www.artfund.org/hoard
Notes 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. 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 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 2.5kg 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.
Portable Antiquities Scheme
All finders of gold and silver objects, and groups of coins from the same finds, over 300 years old, have a legal obligation to report such items under the Treasure Act 1996. Prehistoric base-metal assemblages found after 1 January 2003 also qualify as Treasure. Treasure finds must be reported by law to the local coroner, which is normally done through the finders local Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) Finds Liaison Officer. The Treasure Process is administered by the British Museum. More information is available on www.culture.gov.uk or www.finds.org.uk
The PAS is a voluntary scheme managed by the British Museum on behalf of the Museums Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) to record archaeological objects (not necessarily ‘Treasure’) found by members of the public in England and Wales. Every year many thousands of objects are discovered, many of these by metal-detector users, but also by people whilst out walking, gardening or going about their daily work. Such discoveries offer an important source for understanding our past. More information can be found on www.finds.org.uk. The PAS is funded through Renaissance.
Renaissance is the MLA’s ground-breaking programme to transform England’s regional museums. Central government funding is enabling regional museums across the country to raise their standards and deliver real results in support of education, learning, community development and economic regeneration. The programme has received £300million since 2002, helping to make museums great centres of life and learning, which people want to visit.