Page last updated at 13:34 GMT, Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Appeal to keep Anglo-Saxon gold hoard in West Midlands

Staffordshire hoard
"Archaeological finds don't come any bigger than this," said Dr David Starkey

Historian Dr David Starkey has backed a campaign to keep the UK's largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold in the region it was unearthed.

The appeal, launched at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, aims to raise £3.3m to buy the Staffordshire Hoard which was discovered last July.

Up to 1,500 artefacts were found in a field near Lichfield by metal detecting enthusiast Terry Herbert.

"Archaeological finds don't come any bigger than this," said Dr Starkey.

He added: "It's so important, and the figures - 1,500 objects, 5.5kg of gold - it's big, big, big."

Historian Dr David Starkey: "It transforms the history of the Midlands"

Dr Starkey said it transformed the history of the Midlands from being an Anglo-Saxon "obscure Brummie slum" into the "centre of England".

He added: "It's only six months since these things were found. They've barely been conserved. All the study, all the work has got to start right here."

Dr Starkey, who is also a television and radio presenter, said breaking up the collection or moving it would "lose its meaning".

He added: "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."

If successful, the hoard would be jointly acquired by both the Birmingham museum and the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery in Stoke-on-Trent.

The campaign, being led by The Art Fund charity, aims to raise the money by 17 April.

Birmingham and Stoke-on-Trent city councils and The Art Fund have together donated £500,000 to the cause.

The hoard was valued in November after being declared to be treasure by the South Staffordshire coroner.

Minister for Culture and Tourism Margaret Hodge said: "It is only right that it should be kept and displayed here in the West Midlands for future generations to enjoy."

Once the hoard is bought, an extra £1.7m will be needed to ensure it can be properly conserved, studied and displayed.

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