Discovery of Anglo-Saxon treasures provides golden opportunity for Birmingham
Even when the daily news agenda appears full of unremitting gloom and doom, there just occasionally is something that happens to lift the human spirit and help us forget for a while the woes of modern life.
The astonishing discovery in a Staffordshire field of the largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold ever found falls into this category. Words like staggering and amazing are widely over-used, but on this occasion it is difficult to over-estimate the importance of the treasure that has lain hidden under the earth for 1,500 years.
Experts are already comparing this to the discovery of Tutankhamen’s tomb and the Sutton Hoo burial site. The key question now, of course, is what happens next to the artefacts that everyone in this country will want to see?
For Birmingham and the West Midlands this is, excuse the pun, a golden opportunity to cash in on the inevitable tourist trail.
It seems likely that the hoard will find a permanent home jointly between Birmingham Art Gallery & Museum and the Potteries Museum, potentially bringing huge economic benefits to both Birmingham and Staffordshire. It is of course extremely fortuitous that this has dropped into our laps, but the councils must start planning now to make the most of an extraordinary piece of good fortune.
In Birmingham’s case, a permanent display of the Anglo-Saxon treasures will probably necessitate a complete re-think of plans to improve the art gallery and museum. Something on a far grander scale will be required now to cope with the huge influx of people likely to flood into the city centre expressly to witness one of the greatest historic collections of all time.