David Starkey joins bid to keep Staffordshire hoard in West Midlands
A public appeal to raise the £3.3million needed to keep the Staffordshire Hoard of Anglo Saxon treasure in the West Midlands will be launched today.
TV historian Dr David Starkey will make an impassioned plea to find the cash that would ensure the treasure stays in the region where it was discovered last year.
So far, just £500,000 has been donated towards the amount and campaigners hope the rest will be found from public contributions before the April 17 deadline.
A website has been launched for history lovers to make online payments towards the fund.
Dr Starkey, a familiar face on TV programmes, will visit Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery to get the drive under way.
He said: “Archaeological finds don’t come any bigger than this.
“The Staffordshire Hoard is the largest and most valuable collection of Anglo-Saxon gold ever – it’s the most important find for over half a century, and, in terms of the history of Middle England, the most important.
“But break it up or move it and its meaning is lost.
“It must stay here, together and intact, to be studied and displayed here in the West Midlands, the foundation of whose history it will now become.”
Metal detector enthusiast Terry Herbert made the discovery in a field in Burntwood, Staffordshire, belonging to farmer Fred Johnson last July.
The collection of 1,500 gold and silver pieces are thought to date from the 7th Century.
When the pieces were exhibited at the Birmingham museum, more than 40,000 people queued up to see them, many who stood in line for up to five hours.
The hoard was then moved to the British Museum where it was valued by a panel of experts.
The Art Fund Charity has already pledged £300,000 towards the cost of keeping the hoard in the Midlands.
And Birmingham City Council and Stoke-on-Trent City Council have each promised £100,000 – leaving a further £2.8 million to be found.
Birmingham City Council’s cabinet member for leisure, sport and culture, Coun Martin Mullaney, said: “People feel passionately feel that we must bring it back to the West Midlands for the benefit of all.”
More than 80 artefacts from the hoard will be on display at the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery in Stoke February 13 and March 7.
The donation website is at www.artfund.org/hoard