A grant of £1,285,000 from the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) will keep the glittering treasures of the Staffordshire hoard, the most spectacular heap of Anglo-Saxon gold ever found, in the region where an amateur metal detector found it last summer after it spent 1,300 years buried in a nondescript field.
The grant goes to Birmingham and Stoke-on-Trent museums, which will share the treasure, having raised the £3.3m necessary to pay Terry Herbert, who found the gold, and farmer Fred Johnson, the owner of the field where it was discovered.
Unusually for the fund, when the trustees met today there was no argument about the extraordinary quality of the hoard, or the merits of making the grant. Dame Jenny Abramsky, chair of the NHMF, said: “The Staffordshire hoard is an extraordinary heritage treasure. It is exactly the sort of thing the National Heritage Memorial Fund was set up to save, stepping in as the ‘fund of last resort’ when our national heritage is at risk, as a fitting memorial to those who have given their lives in the service of our nation. We’re delighted, in our 30th anniversary year, to be able to make sure it stays just where it belongs, providing rare insights into one of the more mysterious periods of our history.”
“Frankly they’d have been demented not to give the money,” David Starkey, the historian who led the £3.3m appeal, said, welcoming the announcement. He has labelled the 1,500 pieces of jewel-studded gold, which appear to have been wrenched violently off their original metal, leather and wooden mounts, “gangland bling”.