International demand for glimpse of saxon princess' treasure

Published: 13th May 2011

Please note this is an archived Press Release

NEARLY 1,700 people have descended on an exhibition showcasing an East Cleveland town's links to ancient royalty in just one week.

Visitors have flocked to Loftus Town Hall - some from as far afield as Australia - over the past five days to view the stunning artefacts discovered at the burial site of an Anglo-Saxon Princess.

The finds were made in a farmer's field at Street House by Teesside archaeologist Dr Steve Sherlock and, after a lengthy battle to keep the treasure in the North-East, they are set to go on show at Redcar's Kirkleatham Museum from May 28.

But a week-long exhibition was set up beforehand to give the Loftus community the first chance to view the precious jewellery, which includes the princess' striking centrepiece gold pendant.

And it proved a massive success, as hundreds of people came through the doors to celebrate their community's links to one of the most significant archaeological finds in North-East history.

The rush to view the objects, which date back to 650AD, included an Australian couple who were planning to head on to Edinburgh from a stay in York, but made a detour to Loftus after being told about the exhibition by friends.

Kirkleatham Museum curator Alan Pearce said: "They arrived just as we were packing everything away on Thursday and the gentleman in particular was very excited about it.
"They'd made such an effort to get to Loftus that we were happy to get things back out to show them."

Pupils at four primary schools in the area also came to learn more about local history, don Anglo-Saxon costumes and try their hand at various games.

Now, Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council is turning its attention to the opening of the Kirkleatham Museum exhibition, which promises visitors a fascinating insight into the Anglo-Saxon world.

A host of activities, including battle re-enactments, are planned for the opening weekend.

Inside the museum, people will be able to see a film about the discoveries narrated by Teesside-born actor Stephen Tompkinson, while a 360-degree image of the excavation site can be viewed.

Visitors will also have the chance to look inside an Anglo-Saxon house and there will be costumes for children to dress up in. Replica jewels and pots can be decorated, while the museum's Lillies cafe is serving up Anglo-Saxon banquets.

Leader of the Council George Dunning said: "The interest in the princess' story has been absolutely phenomenal and it is demonstrated by us having 1,700 people coming to Loftus Town Hall to get a glimpse of the treasure. We've been overwhelmed by the demand.

"We are now looking forward to the opening of the permanent exhibition at Kirkleatham Museum on May 28, where admission will be free and we can promise a fantastic experience for all the family."

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