Thursday, October 01, 2009

Staffordshire Hoard should be kept in Staffordshire

Staffordshire County Council Leader Philip Atkins has vowed to have the Staffordshire Hoard exhibited in local museums once they are able to go on permanent display.

The Hoard is the largest ever find of Anglo-Saxon gold treasure, and is unparalleled in terms of size and quality.

It consists of over 1,500 items, probably dating from the seventh or eight centuries. The Hoard was discovered on farmland in southern Staffordshire in July this year.

Philip Atkins said: "This is a world class find, and possibly the most significant treasure discovery in the British Isles since the Sutton Hoo excavations of 1939."

"When the South Staffordshire Coroner, Andrew Haigh, formerly declared the Hoard to be treasure earlier today it cleared the way for the Hoard to be acquired by a museum."

"Staffordshire County Council will play a full role in this process in the best interests of the people of Staffordshire. This is our heritage and we need to do it justice".

"This will be a lengthy and complex process. It is also important to note that this will be a partnership effort. Our neighbouring authorities in Stoke-on-Trent and Birmingham have also expressed an interest in the acquisition. Other significant players in the process will include The British Museum and English Heritage."

Philip also paid tribute to the work by the county council's Historic Environment Team to recover the Hoard.

He said: "The security of the site was always of the utmost concern, but I was kept informed of progress throughout, as was the local county councillor.

"It has been a difficult and demanding task and required consummate professionalism working with colleagues from the Portable Antiquities Scheme. This effort has been fully justified. This is an outstanding discovery and places Staffordshire in the international spotlight."

Meanwwhile, problems emerged yesterday at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, where some of the Staffordshire Hoard items are being displayed.

A ticket system was put in place, in which people were given an allocated time to return to the exhibition - but this soon resulted in people were told to come back up to four hours later.

Musuem officials apologized for the problems, and said that they will now return to the old system where visitors would just wait in line to enter the exhibit. About 100 people are coming to see the Staffordshire Hoard items every half hour.