Birmingham museum chiefs are celebrating after securing the final £1.3 million funding to keep the largest haul of Anglo-Saxon treasure ever found, the Staffordshire Hoard, in the West Midlands.
It means that the 1,600 valuable items, found buried in a Burntwood farmer’s field last summer, will remain in the Midlands after the Birmingham and Stoke-on-Trent museums hit the £3.3 million fund raising target.
The £1,285,000 cash handout was last night rubber-stamped by Government-backed National Heritage Memorial Fund.
The Hoard captured the public imagination when its discovery was announced last October and crowds queued round the block to see the first exhibition at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. More than 100,000 people have seen been to see the treasure.
But no sooner has the gallery, along with Stoke’s Potteries Museums, hit the target to purchase the treasure, it must now raise a further £1.7 million to pay for exhibition facilities to properly tell the story of Anglo-Saxon Mercia to visitors.
City Cabinet member for Leisure, Sport and Culture Martin Mullaney said: “It is great achievement to secure the hoard for the West Midlands region. Not only have we managed to raise the necessary £3.3 million to return the hoard to its rightful home a month ahead of schedule but a staggering £900,000 of this has been raised by personal donations. I have been overwhelmed by the public response and can’t thank enough everyone who has given and supported our campaign in helping us bringing the Hoard home.”
Television historian Dr David Starkey who compared the ancient battlefield booty to modern-day “gangland bling” when he launched the fund-raising campaign two months ago, welcomed the announcement.
He said: “The Staffordshire Hoard provides us with vital clues to our ancient past, and now we can set about decoding them. We’re delighted that The Art Fund, the NHMF, all other funding bodies and the generous public have helped us save these breathtaking treasures for posterity. “It’s now vital that we think ahead towards a future conservation of the Hoard, and displays that will match the excitement of the find.”
Dame Jenny Abramsky, chairman of the Art Fund, added: “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.”