Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Money raised to keep Staffordshire Hoard in England

The campaign to keep the Staffordshire Hoard in England has successfully raised the £3.3 million needed to purchase the Anglo-Saxon treasure. The Art Fund announced today that the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) has pledged £1,285,000 to complete the effort.

The purchase means that the hundreds of items from the archaeological discovery will be kept at the Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery and the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery in Stoke-on-Trent. The Art Fund launched the campaign in mid-January and had already raised £2 million. They have now reached their goal three weeks ahead of schedule.

Stephen Deuchar, Director of The Art Fund, said: "We have been absolutely bowled over by the enthusiasm and fascination the Staffordshire Hoard has sparked amongst the British public, as well as visitors from abroad. It is wonderful news that the NHMF has enabled the target of £3.3m to be reached ahead of the deadline, and I hope that this will give the West Midlands a head-start with the next stage in fundraising for the conservation, research and display of the treasure."

National Heritage Memorial Fund is a government body set up in 1980 to provide financial assistance to preserve British historical treasures. They have funded many medieval projects, including the preservation of the Macclesfield Psalter and the Mappa Mundi.

Dame Jenny Abramsky, Chair of NHMF, said: "We’re delighted to be able to announce this news today. The Staffordshire Hoard is an extraordinary heritage treasure. It is exactly the sort of thing the National Heritage Memorial Fund was set up to save, stepping in as the ‘fund of last resort’ when our national heritage is at risk, as a fitting memorial to those who have given their lives in the service of our nation. We’re delighted, in our 30th anniversary year, to be able to make sure it stays just where it belongs, providing rare insights into one of the more mysterious periods of our history."

British Culture Minister Margaret Hodge added: “This is fantastic news. The great thing about the National Heritage Memorial Fund – and the reason we fought so hard to maintain its funding for next year in a tight economic climate – is that it can move quickly to help save items at very short notice. The Staffordshire Hoard is a great example of this. Thanks to this grant, these superb items will be able to stay – and be enjoyed – where they belong: in the Midlands where they were discovered.”

Historian David Starkey, who helped launched the Art Fund drive, said “This news from the National Heritage Memorial Fund is wonderful. The Staffordshire Hoard provides us with vital clues to our ancient past and now we can set about decoding them. I’m delighted that all the other funding bodies and the generous public have helped save these breathtaking treasures for posterity.”

With this funding goal reached, the Art Fund now commences a longer term fundraising strategy will now be underway to raise a further £1.7 million for vital conservation and research work to take place.

The Hoard will undergo a period of research and conservation before going on permanent display in Birmingham and Stoke-on-Trent. Both Museums are working closely with two major institutions to explore the potential of lending items for display at other venues.

The Staffordshire Hoard, containing over 1,500 objects predominantly of a martial nature, is believed to date from around the 7th century AD. In total, the Hoard is made up 5kg of gold and 1.3kg of silver - topping the record set by the Sutton Hoo find in Suffolk. Experts believe that, due to the high quality of craftsmanship displayed on the items, they may have been made for royal ownership. These riches provide new insight into the Anglo-Saxon people and a better understanding of the role the Mercia region.

Click here to go to our special Feature of the Staffordshire Hoard.

Sources: The Art Fund, National Heritage Memorial Fund