Geologist Vicky To Analyse Hoard Garnets in Paris

Geology expert Vicky Tunstall is set to fulfil a professional “Ëœchance of a lifetime’ when she travels to Paris to analyse artefacts from the Staffordshire Hoard next week.

Vicky, who works as a regional geologist at The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent, will join a team of international experts to carry out tests on garneted items from the seventh century treasure, to try and determine which regions of the world they are likely to have come from.

“This is a fantastic opportunity to be this close to research that is so early in its development and which will draw together different scientific strands in order to better interpret the Staffordshire Hoard for a world wide audience.

“I am honoured to represent Stoke-on-Trent Museums in the research team and to be able to use world-leading technologies to analyse these wonderful treasures.”

The research will take place at the Louvre Museum, using money from a European CHARISMA research grant. Items from the hoard will be in Paris until 3 December, and the French experts in the team have undertaken similar research work on French gold and garnet artefacts from the same time period as the hoard.

Gold and garnet artefacts will be tested using three cutting-edge non-destructive methods ““ Particle Induced X-ray Emissions (PIXE), Raman spectroscopy and X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) spectroscopy.

“The research is a very complex process and it will take a good deal of time to analyse the results, but we hope it will provide crucial information as to the geological areas of the earth these items may have come from.”

Vicky’s role at the museum sees her travel across the West Midlands to advise and assist in caring for geological collections, particularly for museums which do not have geology specialists.

“This is a chance of a lifetime research opportunity and I am delighted that Vicky is able to apply her knowledge on such an important project.

“There is so much we simply don’t know about the Staffordshire Hoard ““ where it came from, why it was buried in Staffordshire soil, even what some of the artefacts actually are. It is a unique and stunning treasure, and we hope that by careful expert analysis we can begin to tell the story of this unparalleled collection.”

Stoke-on-Trent City Council has jointly acquired the Anglo-Saxon treasure with Birmingham City Council. It is valued at £3.3million ““ the most valuable treasure ever found.

A fundraising campaign has been launched to raise £1.7million needed to tell the story of the hoard through research, conservation and interpretation.

People can give money to support the Staffordshire Hoard via collection boxes at The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, or online at

Tony Walley – On My Stoke-on-Trent Soapbox

I haven’t had a good old rant for a while and while life in Stoke-on-Trent isn’t that bad, some of the issues attracting national press coverage is getting me slightly hot under the collar.

Asylum Seekers ““ A Home From Home?

Birmingham City Council, the country’s largest Local Authority, has decided that it will not house anymore Asylum Seekers in the future.

Birmingham City Council will not renew its five-year contract with the UK Border Agency, meaning not a single immigrant will be granted asylum there by the public sector after June next year.

The Councillor in charge of housing, Cllr John Lines, said that the move was not to save money, neither was it racist or political. He said it was designed to protect Brummies.

“Hundreds of Brummies, hundreds of my people are in B&Bs instead of council-provided homes. Why should that be? My people have got to come first.

“The asylum seekers arrive here, they have a blooming family and they keep having children – it’s a burden on the system.

“If people say I’m racist then I’d say we’ve got Brummies of all colours here, third or fourth generation Asians and blacks, but if you say I’m putting Birmingham people first, then, yes, I am.”

Cllr Lines is a Conservative Councillor and is the Cabinet Member for Housing and it seems that his concerns are spreading.

Wolverhampton are also considering ending their agreement with the UK Border Agency.

In the past year, some 1000 Asylum Seekers have been settled in Birmingham but the Agency has only paid for the housing of 200 of them.

Britain’s second city has an estimated 6500 homeless, some living rough on the streets.

To me it is refreshing for a mainstream politician to come out and make his city’s sons and daughters his No 1 priority. It matters not about creed or colour, it’s about looking after your own in times of need.

In Stoke-on-Trent , at the end of December 2009, there were 515 Asylum Seekers [not including their dependents] housed in the City. Most were living in accommodation not supplied by our City Council.

In a progressive society, we should give asylum to the most needy cases. All civil societies across the world should help shoulder the burden.

Asylum and Immigration are inevitable but must be kept to levels where the native population do not feel second best.

The Politics of the far right have prospered on the lies and myths their supporters have perpetrated that have gone unchallenged by our mainstream political parties.

At the last general election, immigration was forced to the top of the agenda. Politicians actually started to recognise [not that they didn’t know, they just chose to ignore it] that the issue was a real concern to Joe & Josie Public. It doesn’t make our society racist, it just means that our population have genuine concerns for theirs, and their children’s future.

If there is an ongoing debate on asylum and immigration, with our mainstream politicians taking the lead [Ed Miliband didn’t shy away from the issue during the Labour Leadership Contest], the move to the far right will become a distant memory of the past.

The politics of hate, division and intolerance can be put to bed once and for all!

Tuition Fees

My son voted for Nick Clegg’s “Ëœlets rid the country of tuition fees’ Lib Dems at the last election ““ Oh how we laughed!

The LibDem u-turn on this policy has to be one of the most shameful political episodes in our history.
How many voters [particularly the young ones voting for the very first time] were duped by this promise?

An independent review of student finance, which is due to come out tomorrow, is expected to recommend removing the cap on university fees altogether, which could see some “Ëœhigh performing’ universities charge up to £10,000 per year.

The report will recommend a fee of around £7000 from as early as 2012. Graduates that go on to earn high salaries will repay their student loans at a higher rate of interest.

The government says it can no longer afford the system: for every £100 a student borrows to defer the payment of tuition fees until after graduation, the government pays about £35. This, it says, is unsustainable.

Added to this, there has been a 16% year-on-year rise in applications for university.

If there is no revolt among the Liberal Democrats over this issue it will prove just what levels Clegg and his ilk will sink to, to get a modicum of power and to hold on to it at any cost.

My other concern is one of unfairness.

It is unfair that Scotland were allowed to abolish tuition fees back in 2000. This has created a division across the UK that can not be justified.

How can it be right for families in Scotland to benefit massively at the expense of every other young person across the United Kingdom.

Cameron should lead on his “Ëœwe’re all in this together’ mandate and force the Scottish Parliament to re-introduce tuition fees as a matter of urgency.

The other real danger in all this is that there will be a real possibility of creating a “Ëœclass’ mentality among the students of our nation.

The richest and most affable young men and women rather than the most able and talented will be able to fund the £10k for the Oxbridge courses.

Education has all been about inclusiveness for the past god knows how many years and that “Ëœevery child matters’ ““ That is of course until they are old enough to be forced to enter into a university culture that is built upon the ability to pay.

Isn’t it bad enough that we saddle our young graduates with massive debt before they have earned a penny? Now they will have to pay double for that privilege along with being ostracised from courses where the next band of politicians may come from.

Glittering gold shows full glamour of Staffordshire Hoard, one year on from its discovery

Glittering images of the most valuable treasure find ever discovered are today (Friday) being revealed for the first time ““ one year after it was first unearthed.

Mud encrusted gold crosses, garneted sword pommels and intricately designed helmet fragments dating back to the seventh century were found buried in a farmers field as part of the 3,500-piece Staffordshire Hoard.

The £3.3million collection, a completely unparalleled haul of gold and silver Anglo-Saxon military artefacts, was declared treasure on September 24, 2009.

Since then, Stoke-on-Trent City Council and Birmingham City Council, which jointly acquired the treasure, have begun the delicate process of researching and conserving the hoard ““ including cleaning some of the most significant artefacts, to dramatic effect.

And plans are being put in place for the hoard to go on display in the heartland of ancient Mercia ““ Lichfield, Tamworth and Stafford, the county town of Staffordshire. This will be a precursor to the Mercian Trail, which will see Birmingham, Stoke-on-Trent, Lichfield, Staffordshire and Tamworth display the Hoard, taking people on a voyage of discovery, and revealing the wealth of stories behind the gold.

“The world marvelled at the quantity and quality of this breath-taking collection when it was first discovered, and the detailed conservation and research work taking place will wow people again.

“The pectoral cross ““ one of the signature items of the collection ““ has been partially cleaned and looks incredibly beautiful, and to mark the first anniversary of the find, we are now showing this item along with 21 artefacts that have never been seen before at The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, in Stoke-on-Trent.”

Conservation work on the treasure will see garneted artefacts sent to the Louvre Museum in Paris in November for analysis, to help determine the origins of the jewels and when they were made.

“It is extraordinary that in the 12 months since the find was first announced people have come from far and wide to Birmingham, including a number of international visitors, to see the display of the hoard. I have also been staggered by local people’s generosity in helping the West Midlands to secure the hoard for the region and I am confident of their continued support.”

A team of leading Anglo-Saxon history and object experts has been recruited to research the treasure to provide insights into the art, wealth, power and politics of the time, as well as the region’s transition from Paganism to Christianity.

“The hoard was found in the district of Lichfield and we are eagerly anticipating learning more about the detailed history of the hoard, as the crucial programme of conservation and research unfolds. We’re delighted to be working alongside the team at Lichfield Cathedral, who will be exploring the possible links between the hoard and the cathedral’s priceless treasures including the St Chad Gospels and the Lichfield Angel, as part of next year’s touring exhibition, as well as uncovering more about what life was like in Lichfield during Anglo-Saxon times.”
“Our wish is to make the hoard as accessible as possible to people within Staffordshire who were such enthusiastic supporters of the fundraising campaign to raise the £3.3million to acquire the hoard. Staffordshire people have been enthralled by the hoard since its existence was first unveiled exactly a year ago. The displays would incorporate key items from the hoard and benefit from the latest research that is currently being carried out on the treasure.”
“It is amazing how much support the public has shown over the past 12 months since the discovery of the hoard, just a few miles outside our historic town. As the ancient capital of Mercia, I am delighted Tamworth will be included in the touring exhibition, meaning people living in and around the area will get to see the hoard; one of the most exciting finds in recent history. The touring exhibition could lead to tens of thousands of people discovering the fascinating history of Tamworth and its surrounding area.”

A huge public campaign raised the £3.3million needed to acquire the hoard ““ the most valuable artefacts ever to be declared treasure in the UK. A further fundraising campaign is required to raise the £1.7million needed to fully research, conserve and display the treasures.

To pledge support to the fundraising campaign, please visit

Newcastle under Lyme Chief Executive Moves For New Pastures

Birmingham City Council leader Cllr Mike Whitby has announced that Mark Barrow, the current Chief Executive of Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council, has been appointed as the new Strategic Director of Development for Birmingham City Council.

Mr Barrow will be responsible for providing strategic management to enable delivery of the city’s regeneration, development, planning, transportation strategy and climate change functions.

He will also ensure plans are implemented effectively and liaise with central Government and the private sector to secure new models for partnership working and funding.

In a statement Mr Barlow said, ‘I am really looking forward to playing my part in helping Birmingham establish itself as a city which is economically strong, culturally rich and physically attractive.

The city’s leadership has developed an exciting vision for the future, and I believe my skills and experience will perfectly compliment those already in place to ensure this ambition can be translated into reality.’

Poor Relations?

Why do the City Council feel it is ok to be treated as poor relations?

I was looking at the Staffordshire Hoard website a few days ago and one thing struck me, the size of the Stoke-on-Trent City Council logo compared to those of other councils.

According to the press release sent out by Birmingham City Council yesterday about the ‘new’ items being shown in Stoke & Birmingham, we are partnered with Birmingham in the bid to buy the hoard. If this is the case then why are Stoke not given what is known in the trade as, equal size and prominence, which means that the logos should all be similar size and not so that any one looks more important that any other.

If you look at the image below there is no way that the logos of all the organisations involved in the Staffordshire Hoard are of equal size and prominence.

The Stoke-on-Trent City logo is stuck at the end smaller than any of the other logos on there. All the logos apart from one have been converted to B&W (I assume to match the site) English Heritage for some reason are allowed to have their logo in colour.

Looking at the site and the logo, it does nothing to tell me that Stoke-on-Trent City Council is a major player in the race to raise funds to keep the hoard in the Midlands or better still in Staffordshire. It sort of says, well nothing really, it is like an after thought, ‘oh and don’t forget that other council, what’s it called again?’ You could argue that all the other councils have horizontal logos and Stoke-on-Trent has one that is square, so it will never be the same size, while this is true, it is possible to make the city council logo the same height as the rest of them. If you want to be uber geeky, you can look at the code behind the page and see that the Stoke-on-Trent City logo is around 20% shorter than the one to it’s left. (At this point I could also be pedantic about the logo itself, it says Stoke on Trent and not Stoke-on-Trent, which is quite significant, but that is for another time.)

Maybe it is just me but little things like this are significant, it’s like getting a scratch on your car, if you don’t fix it then when you get the next scratch or dent it doesn’t matter and then in a short space of time you are driving around in a rusty wreck. It’s all about brand promotion, the council need to start thinking like a big business and how they are going to promote brand Stoke-on-Trent. They don’t need to spend any money on changing the logo, just make sure that a common logo is used and it is used correctly at all times in-line with the brand guidelines.

I was able to sit in front of some councillors last week as part of a discussion about how the Council should deal with new media. Those of you who have met me know that I am not one to hold back if I have something to say. I made my views on how bad the city council are at promoting themselves and the city very clear. I cited the Staffordshire Hoard website as one example of where they had got it wrong. I didn’t expect them to change this website (it is more than likely out of their control) so I am not disappointed but it seems to be indicative that the general rule is to accept what is given.

We need to stop being the poor relations and stand up for our city and promoting the positive. Yes there are problems that need to be dealt with but we can’t drag our heads around because of that, we shouldn’t apologise for being Stoke-on-Trent, we should be shouting about the good stuff that we have.

This shouting needs to start with the council using every means possible to do just that and to start engaging with the people who live in the city. We also need to be promoting it to people who don’t.

Let’s stop being the poor relations and start showing people what Stoke-on-Trent is really like.

Prince of Wales to be first Royal to handle hoard in 1,400 years

The Prince of Wales will today (Friday) become the first Royal to handle the Staffordshire Hoard in 1,400 years.

His Royal Highness will be able to hold two artefacts from the largest collection of Anglo-Saxon treasure ever found ““ a highly detailed crumpled gold cross and a decorative gold stud with millefiori glass thought to be of Celtic origin.

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall will visit an exhibition of 118 items from the hoard at The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent. Experts believe the craftsmanship of the seventh century treasures to be of high enough quality to have belonged to ancient kings.

Their Royal Highnesses will visit Stoke-on-Trent to celebrate the centenary of the federation of the city’s six towns. The full day visit will also take in the city’s Bethesda Chapel, an 18th century chapel which has fallen into disrepair and is being salvaged by the Historic Chapels Trust; a civic reception at Stoke Town Hall; and visits to Emma Bridgewater and Dudson pottery manufacturers.

Stoke-on-Trent Lord Mayor Jean Bowers said: “This is a wonderful occasion for our city and we are delighted to welcome The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall to Stoke-on-Trent in our 100th year. Their visit is the high point of our centenary celebrations.”

Councillor Hazel Lyth, cabinet member for economic development and culture, said: “The Staffordshire Hoard has sparked the imagination of people from across the globe ““ the amount of treasures and some of the types of items have simply never been seen before.

“It is a wonderful glimpse into our ancient past and we are thrilled to give Their Royal Highnesses the chance to see and handle some of these treasures.”

The Prince’s ancestors date back to Anglo-Saxon times, most notably through Ealhswith, the wife of Alfred the Great. She was the granddaughter of the Mercian kind Wigmund and great-granddaughter of Wiglaf, both from the 820s and 830s.

The exhibition at The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery includes 40 items of the hoard that have never been seen before. In the first five days of the display the exhibition attracted 10,000 visitors, including people from Essex and Cornwall and visitors from as far afield as South Carolina in America, and Sweden. The exhibition will run between 10am ““ 5pm every day until Sunday 7 March.

The exhibition is supporting a huge fundraising effort to acquire The Staffordshire Hoard. The city council is working with Birmingham City Council to raise the £3.3m needed to buy the treasure. The money needs to be raised by 17 April. The Art Fund is leading a public fundraising campaign, and donations can be made via: or by calling 0844 415 4004.

A partnership of authorities, including Stoke-on-Trent City Council, Birmingham City Council, Lichfield District Council, Staffordshire County Council and Tamworth Borough Council, is working together to help research and interpret the hoard, and celebrate the heritage of the ancient Kingdom of Mercia in which it was found.

Margaret travels 3,000 miles to view Anglo-Saxon treasures

When Margaret Dawson visits the Staffordshire Hoard today (Wednesday) it will be the culmination of a 3,000 mile journey.
Margaret has swapped her home in Charleston, South Carolina, USA, to visit the exhibition of 1,400 year old Anglo-Saxon artefacts in Stoke-on-Trent.
Margaret will combine her visit to the city’s Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, with a trip to see her mum, also called Margaret, who lives near Coventry.
She said:
“The Staffordshire Hoard has received worldwide publicity and I read about it at home in the States on the internet.
“The artefacts are fascinating and I can’t wait to see them. I originally come from England and my mum lives here. I wanted to plan my trip to see both treasures – my mum and the gold!
“My house in South Carolina was built in the 1860s, and that is old by American standards. But it doesn’t compare to the age and history of the hoard.”
Margaret is a member of the Charleston Library Society, founded in 1748, and will display literature about the hoard at the library on her return to America.
A total of 118 items from the hoard, including 40 artefacts that have never been seen before, is on display at The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery everyday between 10am and 5pm until Sunday 7 March.
More than 6,000 people visited the exhibition in its first three days since it opened last Saturday, and queues yesterday (Tuesday) stretched for more than two hours.
Councillor Hazel Lyth, cabinet member for economic development and culture, said:
“The response from the public has been incredible. This is a world-class exhibition and I wish Margaret an enjoyable visit, she’ll be made to feel very welcome in Stoke-on-Trent.
“We are campaigning to keep the hoard in the West Midlands and such a response from local residents and visitors demonstrates how strong public support is for the treasure.”
Stoke-on-Trent City Council is working jointly with Birmingham City Council to acquire the £3.3m hoard. The treasure, which comprises more than 1,500 artefacts, is the largest and most valuable collection of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver ever found. The Art Fund is leading a public campaign to raise the money to acquire the hoard. A partnership of authorities including Lichfield District Council, Staffordshire County Council and Tamworth Borough Council is working to ensure the treasure is saved for the region.
To donate to the Staffordshire Hoard fundraising campaign visit
The exhibition at The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery is one of the first events to mark centenary celebrations in Stoke-on-Trent. This year is the 100th anniversary of the federation of the city’s six towns. This Friday (19 February), Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall will visit the city and the hoard exhibition as part of the centenary celebrations.

Dazzlingly Detailed Horse’s Head Is One Of New Staffordshire Hoard Displays

A dazzlingly detailed horse’s head will be one of a number of new items from The Staffordshire Hoard to be exhibited for the first time ever next month.


The intricate artefact is just a few inches in length, yet contains remarkably delicate filigree gold designs. It is the latest stunning item to emerge from the 1,500-piece collection of treasure – the largest and most valuable haul of Anglo-Saxon gold ever found.


It will be displayed at The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, in Stoke-on-Trent between 13 February and 7 March. The museum will exhibit around 80 artefacts from the hoard including gold crosses, a strip with a biblical inscription and sword pommels that date back to seventh century battlefields. The exhibition in Stoke-on-Trent will be the first time the treasure will be displayed in Staffordshire, the county in which it was found. It will also be one of the first events to mark centenary celebrations in the city – 2010 is the anniversary of the federation of Stoke-on-Trent’s six towns.


Councillor Hazel Lyth, cabinet member for economic development and culture, said:


“This year is a special year for the city and we are holding lots of activities to mark the 100-year landmark. We are thrilled to be welcoming the hoard back to the region as part of our celebrations. This is the first time the horse’s head will be seen in public in 1,400 years. It’s an incredible, unique opportunity to marvel at our heritage. The quantity of the collection and craftsmanship involved is breathtaking.


“We want as many people as possible to visit the exhibition and see our nationally important museum – we already hold several significant Saxon metal finds, as well as a tonne-and-a-quarter of Saxo-Norman pottery made in Staffordshire. We hold the national post-medieval pottery reference collection.


“The exhibition will also help the economy of our city, it will bring in tourist spend and encourage visitors to our city centre. We will be making all visitors extremely welcome, and have a string of events lined up while the exhibition takes place, from Anglo-Saxon re-enactments and making Saxon-style jewellery, to creating Saxon-inspired manuscripts and talks from hoard experts.”


The exhibition will support a huge fundraising effort to acquire The Staffordshire Hoard. The city council is working with Birmingham City Council to raise the £3.3m needed to buy the treasure. The money needs to be raised by 17 April. The Art Fund is leading a public fundraising campaign, and donations can be made via: or by calling 0844 415 4004.


A partnership of authorities, including Stoke-on-Trent City Council, Birmingham City Council, Lichfield District Council, Staffordshire County Council and Tamworth Borough Council, is working together to help research and interpret the hoard, and celebrate the heritage of the ancient Kingdom of Mercia in which it was found.


Dr Kevin Leahy is the national adviser for early medieval metalwork at The Portable Antiquities Scheme. He is says research into the treasure will begin fully once the treasure has been acquired, and that there are many intriguing questions to be answered. He Said:


“We have been looking into the context of the find, examining other finds from the same period to see where the hoard fits in. To me the most intriguing feature of the hoard is its unbalanced nature; it is almost entirely war-gear, mainly sword fittings. Where are all the feminine dress fittings? Why are there no fittings from the decorated belts that would have accompanied the swords? So many questions, examining the hoard will be a challenge and a privilege.”


The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery will be open between 10am – 5pm Monday to Saturday, and 2pm – 5pm on Sundays during the exhibition. For more information about events during the exhibition visit