Lichfield Cathedral waves farewell to a golden summer as The Staffordshire Hoard On Tour Exhibition moves to Tamworth Castle

Wed, 24/08/2011 - 11:47

After a busy, exciting and thoroughly enjoyable three weeks, it is time for the Lichfield Cathedral community to say farewell to the largest collection of Anglo-Saxon gold in the world, as the Staffordshire Hoard on Tour exhibition is dismantled today and moves to its final destination on the tour, Tamworth Castle.

The exhibition has been seen by an astounding 14,728 visitors in the Cathedral Chapter House this month, as it was displayed alongside Cathedral treasures, the Lichfield Angel and the St Chad Gospels (which are approximately 50 years older than the Books of Kells). Over forty key items from the Staffordshire Hoard were housed in brand new glass exhibition cases and complemented by an interactive and very relevant display of Anglo Saxon replica items (including helmets and swords), National Geographic film footage, interpretation boards and iPads, all enjoyed by visitors this month.

The Cathedral community welcomed the exhibition visitors from July 31st for three weeks and due to the overwhelming demand to see the Hoard in the medieval Cathedral, the timed entry tickets were all issued before even the first visitor had been welcomed through the doors.

Visitor Martin Harris of Lichfield was in the first tour group that saw the Staffordshire Hoard at Lichfield Cathedral and commented:

“The exhibition is a beam of light shining out of the Dark Ages. I feel differently each time I see the Staffordshire Hoard, as it deepens your thoughts about the find each time. It is a lot more intricate than you think it will be”.

Barbara from Rolston on Dove (near Burton), also one of the first to see the exhibition said:

“It was too good to be missed – we couldn’t let the opportunity go by”.

Canon Pete Wilcox, Chancellor of Lichfield Cathedral commented:

The response to the Staffordshire Hoard on Tour at Lichfield Cathedral has been phenomenal and the community here have thoroughly enjoyed welcoming each and every one of the 14,728 visitors this month.

There are a great number of individuals that I would like to thank for helping to make this exhibition a reality, but I would especially like to thank the Staffordshire Hoard partners for all of their support and guidance, Lichfield District Council and of course the hard-working and enthusiastic volunteers who gave up their valuable time to ensure the exhibition was of a high professional standard, providing the best visitor experience possible.

As the tour moves on to Tamworth Castle, we hope that even more visitors enjoy getting the chance to see the Hoard as part of this very special tour. Here at Lichfield Cathedral, we are left feeling very proud of our ability to house a world-class exhibition and we look forward to working with the Mercian Trail Partners in the future, to ensure that the Staffordshire Hoard is preserved and displayed for future generations. We very much hope that this will not be the last time this incredible Anglo-Saxon find is displayed at Lichfield Cathedral”.

Oliver Woodman, Honorary Chaplain said of the exhibition:

“We anticipated great interest and enthusiasm; we had prepared a smooth leisurely visitor experience, which will stand as a fine example for the tour of the Hoard for future venues”.

The exhibition facts

·        14,728 visitors were welcomed by 200 volunteers over a three week period.

·        An estimated 12,600 extra hours of volunteer time was needed this year to accommodate the exhibition at Lichfield Cathedral.

·        Volunteer roles included gate keepers, marshals, book / coffee shop assistants and invigilators.

·        Every visitor was given a prayer card, which referenced Matthew 13.44 – ‘Jesus said, The Kingdom of Heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found’…  This passage was read during the Sunday Eucharist at Lichfield Cathedral and every church just days before the Staffordshire Hoard arrived.

·        On a typical timed entry tour, visitors were able to spend 20 minutes with the hoard in the Chapter House and then 20 minutes viewing the interactive exhibition and replica items.

·        £13,000 was donated to the Hoard Partnership to fund conservation and research plus future display/development of the Mercian Trail.

·        Visitors were treated to a selection of over 40 of the collection’s star items including:

The folded cross - one of the few non-warfare related items, which may have been used as an altar or processional cross during Christian worship or it may have decorated a bible.

The biblical inscription – a strip of gold bearing a Biblical inscription in Latin from the Book of Numbers, When translated the inscription reads “rise up, o Lord, and may thy enemies be scattered and those who hate thee be driven from thy face”.

Pectoral cross – a pendant cross or pectoral is a cross that would have been worn by senior clergy or by wealthy Christian lay people.

·        The exhibition was housed at Lichfield Cathedral only 4 miles from where the find was original found in a farmer’s field in the Parish of Hammerwich and just metres from a Roman road (Watling Street).  

Tamworth Castle and beyond…

The Staffordshire Hoard on Tour will now move onto the final of the three Tour venues, Tamworth Castle (located in the previous Capital of Mercia), following the two very popular appearances in Stafford and Lichfield. The exhibition will appear at the Castle from August 27th until September 18th, as part of the Tamworth Summer Festival including an Anglo-Saxon Festival this Bank Holiday Weekend. The exhibition makes a very relevant and logical location for the exhibition and will aim to explore the power struggles of the Anglo-Saxon era, the battles, the blows and the bloodshed.

Tickets for the weekend and Bank Holiday tours have now all been claimed and there are limited numbers of tickets remaining.

Councillor Steve Claymore, Cabinet Member of Economic Development at Tamworth Borough Council commented:

“Tickets are running out fast – I would urge anyone who hasn’t already got their tickets to go along to the tourist information centre before it is too late”.

Free tickets to see the Staffordshire Hoard on Tour are available from the Tamworth Information centre in the Philip Dix Centre on Corporation Street. For more information please contact 01827 709581 / 618 or email

Last month it was announced that one hundred artefacts from the Staffordshire Hoard will be displayed in Washington D.C.  from October 29th, for over four months. The exhibition will be displayed in the capital’s National Geographic Museum, while permanent displays will remain in Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent.

The Mercian Trail Partnership

The Mercian Trail Partnership brings together Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Lichfield Cathedral, Lichfield District Council, Tamworth Borough Council and Staffordshire County Council. The aim of the partnership is to tell the emerging story of the Staffordshire Hoard and the Anglo-Saxon history of the region, through a series of informative permanent and temporary displays and a programme of outreach activities aimed at residents and visitors alike.

There are more than 3,500 pieces in the hoard and around 25% of the total weight has been conserved and cleaned. The Staffordshire Hoard Mercian Trail Partnership needs to continue to raise money – this will help to continue to unlock the secrets of the hoard: the conservation, restoration and display of this precious treasure.

Dr David Symons, Curator of Antiquities and Numismatics at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery believes the response has been so positive to date because the Staffordshire Hoard is something the Midlands can claim as its own. Dr Symons commented:

“I think this is why people feel so strongly that it must stay in this region – they are passionate about the Hoard”.

For further updates on the plans for the exhibition visit

Lichfield Cathedral is open for worship Monday to Friday from 7.30 am to 6.15 pm, Saturdays from 8.00 am to 6.15 pm and on Sundays from 7.30 am to 5.00 pm. Please see the calendar on the Cathedral website for service details at

 Photograph courtesy of Lichfield Camera Club