Thursday, 26 November 2009

The Staffordshire Hoard

Lord Mayor's Blog 28
Also known as the Anglo-Saxon Hoard or the Mercian Hoard - the best name in my view - was recently valued at some £3.285m.
Conservators tell me that there are some 1,800 pieces rather than the 1,600 previously mentioned. The extra pieces were in clods of earth not previously opened.
The even better news is that there almost certainly is an Anglo-Saxon helmet that it is hoped to re-assemble from the pieces. As well as the already identified cheek plate, this can be deduced from the patterns on the pieces (making up a line of marching men amongst other designs). When reconstructed, the helmet should be in better condition than the famous Sutton Hoo helmet (which had been degraded by being deposited alongside iron).
Now the money must be raised to keep the find in Mercia. By the letter of the regulations there could be only four months in which to do this but it is likely that some latitude will be given. A similar sum will be needed to provide for further conservation work, analysis and proper display, so fund raising will go on for some time.
Birmingham will take the fund raising lead in partnership with Stoke. While nothing is determined as yet, one school of thought is that five museums will be involved in the display which will also include museums in Lichfield, Tamworth and Stafford. The five display elements could be themed - for example with Birmingham concentrating on the European dimension of Anglo-Saxon culture, Stoke concentrating on a Mercian focus, Stafford on the excavation, Tamworth on the royal aspect and Lichfield on the religious dimension. This seems very reasonable.
The Hoard itself could be back in the Midlands quite early in the New Year and elements will be on display at locations including Birmingham as focal points for fundraising. There is likely to be a fundraising launch in the near future although the main big push is likely to be early in the New Year.
It is likely that Birmingham’s close connection with JRR Tolkien will be most advantageous. Tolkien described himself as a Birmingham man and was Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford for many years. In The Lord of the Rings, the land of Rohan is an Anglo-Saxon culture with horses (Rohan itself may be based on the plain between the Malvern Hills and Bredon Hill). The Hoard is just what the Riders of Rohan would have been kitted out with. References in Beowulf to buried treasure are also significant.
As Lord Mayor of Birmingham I hope to be fully involved in the fund raising endeavours and hopefully the enormous two handed sword kept in the Lord Mayor’s Parlour will come in handy in this connection - for promotional rather than warlike purposes I hasten to add! Watch this space!


Muuranker said...

Let us know where and how to donate, please.

I'm looking forwards to making a tour of the five exhibitions.

Anonymous said...

Wanted to contribute in your fund raising endeavour. How can I donate for the same? Please provide a link to submit online.

- Herman Swan
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