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25 April 2014

A Collections Registrar’s view of the hoard

Hello, my name is Sam and I’m the Collections Registrar at The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent.

Whenever the Hoard items have to move anywhere out of the museum it involves a lot of work and documentation. Firstly, the items are taken off display, photographed and their condition noted. Then the pieces are packed in their individual boxes and placed in a larger padded box together with a list of contents. Several lists and grids are then updated as to where the items have moved to and their condition. When the items reach their destination their condition is checked again to make sure that nothing has changed during transportation. But once back on display, it’s always worth the effort, and it’s satisfying to know that the collection is being tracked on its every movement, ensuring that we are caring for the collection for the future generations.

The Hoard packed on the table

The Hoard packed for the grouping exercise

For the recent grouping exercise my colleague, Deb Klemperer, and I carried out the above procedure for the items on display at The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery and at Tamworth Castle. The Birmingham Museum and Lichfield displays are arranged by the Birmingham Team using the same documentation process.

While off display we installed a temporary Anglo Saxon display from our collection at The Potteries Museum so there was something for our visitors to look at, and it was a great chance to have objects on display that are not often on show. Back in Birmingham, they had the challenging task of laying out all the Hoard items, which took them many hours.

Sam Richardson and Deb Klemperer with the hoard

Sam Richardson (left) and Deb Klemperer with the Hoard

Seeing the Hoard items laid out all together for the first time though, more than made up for all the condition checking. The vast table was covered from end to end with amazing artefacts. It really was quite an awe-inspiring sight and it may not happen again, so I feel very privileged to have been involved.

It was also a great opportunity to look at some pieces that I hadn’t seen before and also to see some items that are now clean and look totally different.

Also interesting were peoples’ reactions to seeing the all Hoard items together. Whether they were Anglo Saxon specialists or interested spectators, they all seemed to have a wide-eyed look of wonder on their faces as they entered the room and the enthusiasm was often palpable.

Chris Fern at work during the grouping exercise

Chris Fern at work during the grouping exercise

Chris Fern, the Hoard Project Researcher, has done an incredible job and ensured that the piecing exercise has been a successful one.  We now move on to the next stage of the Staffordshire Hoard adventure and I wonder what else we will discover?

Sam Richardson,
Collections Registrar,
Potteries Museum & Art Gallery