Dear Editor, Whilst it was good to read of the intention to take the Anglo-Saxon Hoard on an international roadshow, I do believe that a more strategic approach to the future of the hoard is needed, one that will help to stimulate the West Midlands regional economy and help to bring the world here.
The discovery of Anglo-Saxon gold in South Staffordshire represents an unparalleled opportunity to celebrate the Mercian Kingdom and to provide a substantial and much-needed economic stimulus to the West Midlands region.
Heritage tourism is big business. A Mercian heritage centre located in or near Tamworth – the old capital of Mercia – to provide a home for the hoard would be an exciting focus for such tourism with all of its associated spin-off benefits.
One can anticipate keen academic interest with a centre for the study of Anglo-Saxon civilisation, a burgeoning hotel and catering sector, growth in employment in leisure and tourism-related occupations, demands for skills training and education. The economic impact can scarcely be overestimated, bringing together heritage tourism with further and higher education.
The social benefits, increasing confidence and optimism, would also be substantial. We have only to look at Sutton Hoo and the Mary Rose at Portsmouth to begin to imagine the effect on the region.
Keeping the hoard as a museum exhibit, whilst valuable in itself, inevitably limits its broader economic and social potential. I believe that urgent steps need to be taken now to promote a Mercian heritage centre, to secure local support and to begin addressing resource issues. Such a centre could even act as a gateway to the West Midlands – its cultural, historical and industrial heritage selling the achievements of this region, from Penda and Offa to Shakespeare, the Lunar Society and the Industrial Revolution!