Tuesday 10 November 2009

This treasure stirs the West Midlands' Anglo-Saxon soul

The Staffordshire hoard has brought history to life in modern-day Mercia – and it is here that the collection has to return

From the Lindisfarne gospels to the Lewis chessmen, much of British heritage policy is about putting things back where they belong. Now we have a golden opportunity not to commit the original sin, and ensure the most fascinating find in a generation remains where it should.

The Staffordshire hoard, that stunning collection of 1,500 Anglo-Saxon gold and silver goods discovered near Lichfield, has just gone on display at the British Museum with the earth still on it – the hoard's final outing before the treasure valuation committee sets a price to be split between the finder Terry Herbert and the field owner. But once those experts have announced whatever millions are needed, the loot must be fast-tracked out of Bloomsbury back to the kingdom of Mercia.

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