Friday, June 17, 2011

The Saxon Princess Exhibition, Kirkleatham.

Today seemed like a good day to take the opportunity to go along to Kirkleatham Museum to visit the Saxon Princess Exhibition and we were not disappointed.

The collection of 7th Century treasures and everyday artefacts was found between 2005 and 2007 at the only known Anglo-Saxon royal burial site in the north-east of England. The collection went on show to the public for the first time at the end of May and has been hailed by archaeologists as containing some of the rarest artefacts discovered.

More than 7,000 people have visited the exhibition to view the spectacular finds in the two weeks since it was opened.

The finds were uncovered by Teesside archaeologist Steve Sherlock, together with members of the Teesside Archaeological Society, at a 109-grave site at Street House, Loftus. The Anglo Saxon objects discovered were clearly of national significance but it was the view of everyone involved that the finds should be displayed locally. This was the starting point for the aquisition of the ownership of the jewellery for Redcar & Cleveland Museum Service. After their discovery the objects were declared treasure by a coroner and, following a debate in the House of Commons, they were finally allowed to remain in Redcar & Cleveland and were purchased with the aid of a Heritage Lottery Fund grant.

Mr Sherlock said, "This is a spectacular discovery that has attracted the imagination and attention of people from all over the country."

Redcar & Cleveland Councillor Sheelagh Clarke, said: "The Saxon Princess exhibition is one of the most stunning attractions we have seen in the Borough for many, many years. To have so many people visit in a little over two weeks is fantastic and we look forward to welcoming many more."

Some of the pieces from the collection are associated with a rare bed burial in which a female body was laid out on a decorated wooden bed accompanied by fine gold jewellery.

The finds included a striking gold pendant - said to be "unparallelled" in the Anglo-Saxon world - which would have belonged to a princess, as well as glass beads, pottery, iron knives, belt buckles and other objects.

Some of the treasure from the Saxon Princess Collection

A further major part of the project was the making of a short introductory film about the Street House Princess. Used as the introduction to the exhibition it presents the visitor with a glimpse of Anglo-Saxon life.

This is an unparalled collection of finds from the Anglo-Saxon world and a visit to the exhibition is highly recommended.

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