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The Staffordshire Hoard

Staffordshire Hoard
Museums across Britain are bidding to host the Staffordshire Hoard permanently

The UK's largest haul of Anglo-Saxon gold, the Staffordshire Hoard, was found in a farmer's field in Staffordshire in July 2009.

The find has more than 1,500 items, most of which are gold, with some silver.

But, already, interested parties are squabbling over where the collection will be housed.

Leading museums across Britain are bidding to host the collection, including Hanley's Potteries Museum.

The treasure was valued at £3.285m and declared the 'property of the Crown', which means that Terry Herbert, who found it with his metal detector will not be allowed to keep his find.

But Terry, and Fred Johnson, who owns the farm where it was discovered, will be compensated.

This was found in the West Midlands and it has to stay in the region.
West Midlands Minister Ian Austin

But what happens to the treasure in the long run?

The fact is that a significant collection like this will be a huge tourist attraction.

More than 65 thousand people went to see it during the two weeks it was on display in October 2009 at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, making it the most successful exhibit in its history.

The Staffordshire Hoard is comparable to the other great Anglo-Saxon collection, at Sutton Hoo, and many museums across the UK, if not the world, would love to house it.

Hopeful museums

Anybody interested in displaying the Hoard permanently must also pay for the privilege, by raising the money to pay for it.

While a museum in the Midlands would be the hot favourite, how will it find the cash to buy it, house it and secure it, especally during a recession?

So where should it be stored?

The contenders
Queues to see the Staffordshire Hoard

But who might have it? Here are the main contenders.

  • The City Museum in Stoke on Trent. The City Museum is the archaeological centre for Staffordshire, and the local authority is anxious to make sure its claims are to the fore.

But Stoke is a distance from the Tamworth/Lichfield area, the district of the find. There are museums there but they are too small to take the Hoard - should they be enlarged? Or a new one be created?

After all, Tamworth was the centre of the Mercian kingdom and this is (in all probability) Mercian gold.

  • What about Birmingham Museum? They were first on the scene, and hosted the first exhibition of the find. The site has all the facilities to house the treasure properly, and the security.

Or would a more famous museum want it? It's a nationally-significant collection, so a central museum set up for huge numbers of visitors might have a claim too...

  • The British Museum might want to house it 'temporarily' while a suitable Midlands venue is found - after all, it was displaying the Hoard in late 2009.

Or should the collection be broken up, and shared among the museums with the strongest claims? Would that be fairest?

So - let the debate commence! Who do think should house the gold? Does the treasure have a rightful home where it should end up? Click on the have your say tab above to tell us what you think.

The campaigns
Staffordshire Hoard
The treasure has been declared the 'property of the Crown'

In the meantime, smaller, local museums in Staffordshire (including the Shire Hall in Stafford) are rushing to make sure they have accreditation to house just a few items should the chance arise.



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