Historian Dr David Starkey today made a passionate plea for funds to save the Staffordshire Hoard for the West Midlands . He is amongst a host of prominent public figures supporting the campaign, launched today by The Art Fund
charity, to raise the £3.3m needed by 17 April to save this awe-inspiring find of Anglo-Saxon treasure for Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery and the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery in Stoke-on-Trent.
The Art Funds new Director, Dr Stephen Deuchar, kick-started the public appeal by announcing an initial Art Fund grant of £300,000 and by unveiling the official donation website www.artfund.org/hoard. Birmingham City Council which runs Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery , announced that it is giving an initial £100,000 towards the campaign, and Stoke-on-Trent City Council which runs the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery will also give £100,000 bringing the sum already raised already to £500,000.
Dr David Starkey 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 ever. 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."
Dr Stephen Deuchar said: This is the most significant and beautiful treasure find from any era that has ever been unearthed in England . We are thrilled to be leading the public campaign and making an initial grant of £300,000 towards the £3.3million total. For years to come the treasure will be a source of awe and inspiration for all to experience and we along with the rest of the nation are very much looking forward to discovering its story.
The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Minister for Culture and Tourism said: I would like to pay tribute to The Art Fund and its partners Birmingham , Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, Lichfield and Tamworth councils for ensuring the public fundraising campaign to save the Staffordshire Hoard has got off to such a flying start. Although there is a long way to go towards raising the target of £3.3m, I know how much the Hoard has captured the imaginations of local people, and so I am confident well make it. The Hoard is incredibly significant to the understanding of our Saxon heritage and it is only right that it should be kept and displayed here in the West Midlands for future generations to enjoy.
Councillor Martin Mullaney, Birmingham City Council Cabinet Member for Leisure, Sport & Culture said: "I am delighted that The Art Fund has joined us in our efforts to raise the money required to secure this extraordinary piece of the nation's history. We know from the 40,000 visitors that came to Birmingham to see this extraordinary treasure, how passionately they feel that we must bring it back to the West Midlands for the benefit of all. Therefore, I can announce today that Birmingham City Council will be contributing an initial £100,000 towards the fund to help bring it back home to the region."
Councillor Hazel Lyth, Stoke-on-Trent City Council Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Culture said: We are pleased to announce capital funding of £100,000 to support the acquisition of this incredible treasure.
The Staffordshire Hoard is one of the most significant and important finds ever made in this country. And Stoke-on-Trent City Council is committed, along with Birmingham City Council, to do everything it can to save the treasure for the country and ensure it stays in the region it was found. The funding will be off-set by the tremendous long-term economic benefits this treasure will bring, in terms of attracting visitors and tourist spend; educational benefits; and a lasting cultural legacy. We welcome The Art Funds grant and Birmingham City Councils funding. We are pursuing funding from other public funding bodies as well, and urge the public to support the campaign and make a donation.
Over the next 13 weeks events and activities will be taking place throughout the West Midlands to raise funds to keep the Staffordshire Hoard in the region. More than 80 of the most significant artefacts from the Hoard, including items never seen before, will be on display at the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery , Stoke-on-Trent between 13 February and 7 March.