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Marking 10 years since the Staffordshire Hoard discovery

Tamworth-Castle-SaxonsThis week marks 10 years since the largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver ever found was unearthed in a field near Tamworth.

The discovery of the Staffordshire Hoard on July 5, 2009, near the village of Hammerwich, continues to have a significant impact on Tamworth, and in highlighting its importance as the centre of the Kingdom of Mercia, in Anglo-Saxon England.

Described as more than just a treasure; the hoard has provided a unique glimpse into life in 7th century England and the world of its warrior elite.

Tamworth Castle is one of a select locations allowed to display pieces from the 4,000-item hoard and a brand new interactive, dedicated Anglo-Saxon gallery is currently being developed to show off the stunning pieces in a more contextual setting.

The creation of the new ‘Battle and Tribute’ exhibition represents an investment of more than £750,000 into Tamworth Castle, including a £499,900 grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and will enable the Castle to display even more pieces of the Staffordshire Hoard.

Tamworth Castle’s journey with the hoard started in 2011 when it hosted a temporary touring exhibition of 50 star pieces of the hoard. Around 14,600 available tickets for that exhibition were snapped up immediately, attracting visitors from far and wide.

In 2012, it was confirmed that Tamworth Castle would continue to receive pieces of the hoard to display as part of the Tamworth Story on the top floor.

While the hoard is not currently on display as work takes place to prepare for the new Battle and Tribute exhibition, the Castle is looking forward to housing even more pieces in the future, along with other artefacts from the Castle collection that promote the town’s Anglo-Saxon heritage.

Tamworth was vitally important in Anglo-Saxon times as the principle royal and administrative centre of the Mercian kings. Established as a strong defensive settlement within the Mercian kingdom, the town was attacked and destroyed by the Vikings in 911. By 913, Lady of the Mercians and daughter of Alfred the Great, Aethelflaed, is known to have refortified Tamworth, paving the way for the construction of the motte and bailey Castle by the Normans more than 150 years later.

Cllr Jeremy Oates, Tamworth Borough Council’s Cabinet member for Heritage and Growth, said: “I remember the excitement of the announcement of the find before it was even labelled the Staffordshire Hoard, and now 10 years on, the story is still fascinating. The discovery has offered an incredible insight into the Anglo-Saxon period and has helped us to learn more about the power struggles, the battles and the bloodshed.

“It’s had a significant impact on Tamworth and Tamworth Castle as visitors come from all over to see the hoard and we are delighted to be able to showcase some of the pieces on permanent display, along with Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery.

“The individual pieces are astonishing and we’re looking forward to exhibiting them in a much more interactive setting which aims to bring to life some of those themes of battle and tribute.” Tamworth-Castle

For more information about the Staffordshire Hoard, visit www.staffordshirehoard.org.uk.

Tamworth Castle will be bringing this important part of the town’s history to life during the summer holidays with special Anglo-Saxon-themed activities on August 6, 7, 8, 13, 14 and 15. Visitors will be able to try archaeology, learn about our warrior princess Aethelflaed and discover Anglo-Saxon battle tactics. For more information, or to book tickets online, visit www.tamworthcastle.co.uk/events.

The Staffordshire Hoard is owned by Birmingham City Council and Stoke-on-Trent City Council on behalf of the nation, and is cared for by Birmingham Museums Trust and The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent.

NOTES TO EDITORS

The Staffordshire Hoard is owned by Birmingham and Stoke-on-Trent City Councils, and is cared for on behalf of the nation by Birmingham Museums Trust and The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery. The Staffordshire Hoard was acquired with donations from members of the public following a huge campaign led by the Art Fund, the national fundraising charity for art. The acquisition was also generously supported by the National Heritage Memorial Fund, Birmingham City Council, Stoke-on-Trent City Council, Wartski, and many other trusts and foundations, and corporate philanthropy. 

The Staffordshire Hoard is the most spectacular Anglo-Saxon find since the excavation of the Sutton Hoo ship-burial (Suffolk) in 1939. It was discovered in July 2009 by a metal detectorist, a mix of around 4,000 gold, silver and garnet items. Most of the collection consists of fittings from weaponry. These were stripped from swords and seaxes (single-edged fighting knives), at least one helmet and other items, and probably represent the equipment of defeated armies from unknown battles, of the late 6th and 7th century AD.

Although fragmented, damaged and distorted, the hoard’s remarkable objects represent the possessions of an elite warrior class, stunning in their craftsmanship and ornament. Why it was buried, perhaps before c.675 AD, is not certain.  Significantly it was discovered close to a major routeway (Roman Watling Street), in what was the emerging Kingdom of Mercia. Warfare between England’s many competing regional kingdoms was frequent. The Staffordshire Hoard bears witness to this turbulent time in our history. www.staffordshirehoard.org.uk.

More information about partners and funders can be found here www.staffordshirehoard.org.uk/partners_and_funders.