Monday, October 05, 2009

Tamsworth and Lichfield make their claims for the Staffordshire Hoard

Representatives of the towns of Tamworth and Lichfield have come out to say that Staffordshire Hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold should be permanently displayed in their areas.

The Staffordshire Hoard, which consists of around 1500 items dating back to the 7th century. The announcement of its discovery has generated news around the world.

"Tamworth is the ideal place to host a permanent exhibition of the Staffordshire hoard, and I am very excited by the possibilities," said Leader of Tamworth Borough Council, Cllr Bruce Boughton.

"It is quite likely that the treasure came from Tamworth, perhaps being taken to safety during either of the two occasions when the Danes burned the town to the ground.

"As the capital of Mercia, Tamworth was the most important centre in the Midlands and I hope the excitement over the treasure rekindles interest in Tamworth's fantastic Saxon history."

Local historian and chairman of Tamworth Heritage Trust, John Harper, said: "Of course this amazing treasure is linked to Tamworth!

"I'm absolutely thrilled that the borough council is considering claiming it for the people of the town.

"Tamworth was of massive importance to Saxon England and it's only right and proper that a find of this importance comes to such an historically important place."

Meanwhile, Michael Fabricant, Member of Parliament for the town of Lichfield, believes that the hoard should be displayed at the Lichfield Cathedral.

"It would be excellent for some, if not all, of the gold - particularly those items with religious significance - to be shown alongside other religious articles in the cathedral," he said.

"We are all agreed that they should find a local home and I do not believe that either Birmingham or Stoke are 'local', as far as Lichfield and Burntwood people are concerned.

"If some of those items are to be permanently displayed in Lichfield Cathedral then it may be necessary to introduce, in due course, an entrance fee.

"That fee would help offset the huge costs recently incurred by the cathedral following the Heritage Lottery Fund's rejection of the Lichfield Inspires project."

Canon Pete Wilcox, from Lichfield Cathedral, said church leaders are 'thrilled' at the discovery. "Any permanent display of The Staffordshire Hoard must surely be as local as possible," he said.

"Even if the cathedral is unlikely to be the right place for that, to display some of the hoard alongside our own Saxon artefacts for a period of time would be a very exciting development."

Canon Wilcox said there is 'no evidence' that the hoard originated in the cathedral or was directly associated with St Chad.

But it consolidates scholars' belief, since the discovery of the Lichfield Angel in 2003, that eighth century Lichfield was a far greater centre of wealth and culture than previously thought.

"Our St Chad Gospels are also key evidence of this," added Canon Wilcox. "There are now three stunning local artefacts surviving from that period.

"No-one should look at our eighth century angel and gospel book without reference to the Anglo Saxon gold, and no-one should try to interpret The Staffordshire Hoard except in relation to the Chad Gospels and the Lichfield Angel."

Some items from the hoard are currently being displayed at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery until October 13th.