Independent charity The Art Fund today announces that it will be leading a public campaign to save an unparalleled hoard of treasures, dating from Anglo-Saxon times, for the West Midlands.
Members of the public can now donate to save the Staffordshire Hoard via www.artfund.org/hoard
Comprising in excess 1,500 items, mostly gold and some decorated with precious stones, the Staffordshire Hoard has been valued at almost £3.3million - making it the most valuable treasure find ever recorded. Experts say that due to the high quality of craftsmanship displayed on the items, it is possible that they may have originally been made for royal ownership. They say the find will rewrite the history of the so-called 'dark ages'.
Through its public campaign, The Art Fund aims to raise the sum required for the treasures to be acquired jointly by Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery and The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent who are working with their partners, Staffordshire County Council, Lichfield District Council and Tamworth Borough Council.
The Art Fund, which is supported by its 80,000 members, is dedicated to saving valuable artworks, treasures and historic objects for the nation. It is now leading the way to help ensure these precious seventh century items remain in the region where they were found, for local people to see.
Andrew Macdonald, Acting Director of The Art Fund, said: "This awe-inspiring hoard really must be kept in the West Midlands where it was unearthed. Since we were founded in 1903, The Art Fund has led many successful campaigns to save treasures such as this, and our success is down to the support of members of the public who care as much as we do about preserving the nation's heritage."
Councillor Martin Mullaney, Cabinet Member for Birmingham City Council Leisure Sport and 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. In order to fundraise well need to involve major funding bodies as well as members of the public.
"Over 42,000 people saw the treasure when it was displayed at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery in September, and thanks to the generosity of the public we have already raised over £40,000 towards the fundraising total. Working closely with our partners, Staffordshire County Council, Lichfield District Council and Tamworth Borough Councils, we will do all we can to ensure that Birmingham and Stoke succeed in jointly acquiring the Hoard and returning these magnificent finds to Mercia."
Councillor Hazel Lyth, Stoke-on-Trent City Council cabinet member for economic development and culture, said: "Having support from The Art Fund is a major boost to an unprecedented fundraising effort. We know that there is huge public support for the Staffordshire Hoard, and we hope to welcome many thousands of visitors to see some breathtaking, never-before-seen artefacts from the collection when it goes on display at the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent between 13 February and 7 March 2010. But we also need to raise a huge amount of money to ensure the treasure can remain on display, in the region in which it was found."
The Staffordshire Hoard was first discovered in July 2009 near Lichfield, Staffordshire by a local metal detectorist. It was declared treasure by South Staffordshire Coroner Andrew Haigh on 24 September 2009.
In total, the Staffordshire Hoard is made up 5kg of gold and 1.3kg of silver - topping the record set by the Sutton Hoo find Suffolk, in 1938, which included 2kg of gold.