Thursday, March 04, 2010

Staffordshire Hoard gets crowds, award

Over forty thousand people have visited the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery in Stoke-on-Trent, England, to see a fraction of the famous Staffordshire Hoard. It is another sign that discovery of Anglo-Saxon treasure is still drawing in massive interest.

A total of 1,852 people passed through the doors on Wednesday, taking the total number of people who have queued to see the Hoard to 41,447 over 19 days.  Over 3700 people visited the collection on its opening day in mid-February.

The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery is exhibiting 118 items from the hoard, including 40 artefacts that have never before been seen, such as a filigree gold horse's head, gold snakes, what is believed to be gold helmet eyebrow adornments, and detailed helmet fragments showing warriors and animals.

They are on display at the museum until Sunday. Last night the museum extended its opening hours until 8pm to enable more people to see the Hoard. By lunchtime, those in the queue endured waits of more than three hours.

Among those browsing the gold pieces was Judith Lambert, who was amazed at the quality of the items. The Alton resident said: "The quality of the workmanship is extraordinary. We are seeing something that is not just English craftsmanship, because some of the gems have come from across the world. "I queued for three hours to see the Hoard and it was worth every minute."

Councillor Hazel Lyth, Stoke-on-Trent City Council cabinet member for culture, added: "To reach 40,000 visitors is a remarkable achievement and is a demonstration of how passionate people feel about the Hoard.

"It shows a sense of pride from people who want to keep it here and feel a connection to it."

Meanwhile, the Staffordshire Hoard team has been awarded ‘The Best Rescue Dig of the Year, 2010’ by Current Archaeology.

Current Archaeology is Britain’s best selling archaeology magazine. The award, sponsored by Andante Travel, was given on the basis of votes cast by its readers, and was presented at the Archaeology 2010 Conference, held at the British Museum on 27 February.

The award was accepted by Dr Kevin Leahy, National Advisor, Early Medieval Metalwork, on behalf of the project.

On accepting the accolade, which was presented at the ceremony by Professor Brian Fagan of the University of California, Santa Barbara, Dr Leahy said: “This was very much a joint award, to be shared by the many people and organisations who had worked hard on the project.”

Dr Leahy also commented on how smoothly the project has gone so far, and paid tribute to the many people and organisations involved.

He added, ”Finally, thanks must go to the 40,000 people who queued for up to five hours to see part of the hoard during the short time it was on show in Birmingham and the tens of thousands who are queuing to see it now at the Potteries Museum. They are telling us that they care.”

The Staffordshire Hoard was first discovered by metal detectorist Terry Herbert in a field near Lichfield, Staffordshire in July 2009. Containing over 1,500 pieces, mainly gold and many inlaid with precious stones, the Hoard was valued at £3.3.m on 26 November 2009 and declared the most valuable treasure found on British soil.

Click here to go to our feature on The Staffordshire Hoard.