Culture Minister Supports Retaining Gold Hoard for the Region

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The campaign to keep the Staffordshire Hoard in the West Midlands received a boost yesterday when culture minister Margaret Hodge pledged her support.

Speaking at the Museum Association conference in London, she said the hoard, which gives a new insight into the 8th century Midlands kingdom of Mercia, could play a vital role in helping local people feel a sense of place.

She said: "The Staffordshire Hoard offers an incredible - and completely unique - insight into Anglo Saxon times. It may take many years or decades for it to give up all its secrets but, while this scholarly research goes on, the pieces must go on public show.

"And I firmly believe their permanent home should be in the West Midlands where people will be able to enjoy - and marvel at - their Saxon heritage for generations to come, because finds like this tell us about our past, and help to define our sense of place and identity - and I think the queues around the block of people eager to see the find where it is currently displayed in Birmingham is testament to that".

The hoard, consisting of about 1,500 mainly gold items, was discovered in a field near Brownhills in July by Terry Herbert, an amateur metaldetector enthusiast.

The find - the largest of its kind, which experts say will rewrite Anglo Saxon history - was made public last month.

Birmingham-based archaeologists have been involved in the retrieval of the hoard from the beginning, and a small selection of the finest items has attracted about 40,000 people to Birmingham Museum &Art Gallery since they went on display there on September 25, with opening hours extended to cope with numbers. …