Mildenhall Treasure snub to town

By Liz HearnshawMUSEUM officials have promised to “consider seriously” any request from Mildenhall to loan its world-famous treasure hoard.The pledge could see the Mildenhall Treasure, one of the country's greatest archaeological finds, returning to Suffolk for the first time since it was discovered by a farm worker in 1943.

By Liz Hearnshaw

MUSEUM officials have promised to “consider seriously” any request from Mildenhall to loan its world-famous treasure hoard.

The pledge could see the Mildenhall Treasure, one of the country's greatest archaeological finds, returning to Suffolk for the first time since it was discovered by a farm worker in 1943.

The 34-item collection of silver dishes, bowls and goblets, owned by the British Museum, is currently on a two-year tour of four museums across the UK.


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Although the closest it is coming to Suffolk is the Castle Museum in Norwich, community leaders in Mildenhall have welcomed the possibility of borrowing parts of the hoard for display at the town's museum.

John Taylor, chairman of the Mildenhall Community Partnership, said: “People were disappointed when the treasure did not come to Mildenhall, but it would be very good and very interesting to get it on loan.

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“It would also enable us to compare the genuine article with the replicas we have. I would certainly favour it and it would be nice to have it back here.”

The treasure, which prompted Roald Dahl to write a book with the find as its inspiration, was discovered by ploughman Gordon Butcher on land in West Row.

It was declared Crown property in 1946 and was later acquired by the British Museum - which has now loaned the hoard to museums in Cardiff, Manchester and Newcastle, as well as Norwich.

Peter Merrick, chairman of the Friends of Mildenhall Museum, said: “We would welcome loaning pieces very much and will look into it.

“It would be nice for the treasure to come home as the pieces are one of the top archaeological finds in the country.

“Before we got the replicas, we were trying to get hold of an original to display and the British Museum came and inspected our security. We passed, so we know we meet their standards.”

He added: “It would have been smashing to see the collection come here as part of the tour and even if we had only had one of the original bits, it would have been good fun.

“And I do think it is odd that it should be going to Norwich and not coming here. But I suppose the more the pieces tour, the better and any publicity for the town is good publicity.”

A spokeswoman for the British Museum said any request from officials in Mildenhall would be considered seriously.

“The museum policy is that anyone is welcome to apply for a loan. The trustees of the museum will then look at the request. Every single one is considered and treated very seriously. Mildenhall Museum is, of course, welcome to apply for a loan,” she added.

n The Mildenhall Treasure will be displayed at Castle Museum, Norwich, from July 25 until January 15, 2006.

liz.hearnshaw@eadt.co.uk

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