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Crowdfunding helps save Shropshire’s prehistoric artifacts

Seven separate prehistoric hoards discovered in north Shropshire, U.K., will be secured for the public by Shropshire Museums thanks to fundraising efforts that included crowdfunding.

The Shropshire Council service secured grants and funding to acquire the hoards, which range in type and design and include jewelry, daggers, chariot fittings, spearheads, and razors and have been described as “nationally important.”

Shropshire lock ring

The crowdfunding campaign included support from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the Shropshire Archaeological and Historical Society (Pagett and Betton Fund), and The Friends of Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery.

“We are very pleased to have supported Shropshire Museums with £11,100 to help acquire these rare and nationally important Bronze Age hoards. It is entirely fitting that these items will be permanently displayed at Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery, close to where they were discovered. The hoards join over 1,000 heritage treasures across the U.K. that the National Heritage Memorial Fund has saved since it was formed in 1980,” said Dr. Simon Thurley CBE, chair of the National Heritage Memorial Fund.

Among the acquired objects is a lock ring, a unique package consisting of a lead sheet wrapped around two pieces of gold pieces of jewelry thought to be a devotional offering.

Other finds include one of the first iron axe heads made in Britain at the beginning of the Iron Age.

“It’s fantastic news that we will be able to keep these finds in the public domain and within Shropshire,” said Clare Featherstone, Shropshire Council’s head of culture, leisure, and tourism. “They suggest around 3,000 years ago north Shropshire was a place of great importance. Hopefully, further study of these finds by our museums’ team will help to explain why.”

The finds are on display at Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery until December 12, 2021, alongside the Shropshire Sun Pendant, or bulla, which was discovered in September 2018 and acquired by the British Museum in 2020.

The bulla has been described as ‘one of the most significant pieces of Bronze Age gold metalwork’ ever discovered in Britain; however, it was not an isolated find. The discoveries of the hoards over the past three years in the wetland landscape of north Shropshire suggest that the Sun Pendant was just one of a whole series of deposits and that this ritual was repeated for more than a thousand years.

“We are really excited to be able to help Shropshire Museums. Our grant will also help to fund their plans to develop a touring exhibition in 2022 to take these finds out to venues across Shropshire to ensure as many people as possible get to see these important discoveries,” said Martin Speight, chair of Shropshire Archaeological and Historical Society.

“We are currently working in partnership with the British Museum to create an exciting new Prehistory Gallery for Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery. Here we will be able to display these objects and share their stories with our visitors,” said Fay Bailey, Shropshire Council’s museums and archives manager.

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