Mercian Gold coming home
A public appeal was launched in January to raise £3.3m in three months to buy the Staffordshire Hoard, the richest Anglo-Saxon archaeological find to date, and keep it in Stafforshire. Made up almost entirely of martial pieces, suggestive of war booty, historian David Starkey has referred to it as Anglo-Saxon "gangland bling". The exact spot where the Hoard was found has not yet been revealed, but it is rumoured to have been in a field near Swinfen, not far from Lichfield, the very heart of the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Mercia.
Comprising of over 1,500 individual items, mainly gold, although some are silver and many are decorated with precious stones; the quality of the craftsmanship displayed on many items of the Staffordshire Hoard is of an exceptionally high quality, leading to suggestions of high status ownership, perhaps spoils taken by the Mercian royal house of Penda, Wulfhere or Offa.
A number of items from The Staffordshire Hoard are to be exhibited for the first time ever next month (February) at The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, in Stoke-on-Trent. One such piece is an intricate Horse’s head which will go on display, the first time it will have been seen in public for over one thousand years.
The Horse's head artefact is just a few inches in length, yet contains remarkably delicate filigree gold designs. It is the latest stunning item to emerge from the Staffordshire Hoard; the largest and most valuable haul of Anglo-Saxon gold ever found, consisting of approximately 5 kg of gold and 1.3 kg of silver; in comparison less than two kilos of gold was found at Sutton Hoo.
The hoard was valued at £3.3m last November and that money will be shared by Herbert and the farmer who owns the field. The Art Fund charity has pledged £300,000 to the campaign, and Birmingham and Stoke- on-Trent city councils have also pledged £100,000 each. If secured, the hoard will go on display at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery in Stoke.
The horse's head along with around 80 other artefacts from the hoard including gold crosses, a strip with a biblical inscription and sword pommels that date back to seventh century battlefields, will be displayed at The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, in Stoke-on-Trent between 13 February and 7 March.
The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery will be open between 10am – 5pm Monday to Saturday, and 2pm – 5pm on Sundays during the exhibition.
For more information about events during the exhibition visit www.stoke.gov.uk/museum
The Staffordshire Hoard
Kevin Leahy and Roger Bland
£1 from every book purchased will go to the Appeal Fund
KEEP THE HOARD IN STAFFORDSHIRE
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