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Historical find set to return to Doncaster

An anglo saxon cross found by Andrew Wilson, of Stainforth is on display at Doncaster Museum. Picture: Andrew Roe

An anglo saxon cross found by Andrew Wilson, of Stainforth is on display at Doncaster Museum. Picture: Andrew Roe

A rare historical find, which would have been worn by Anglo Saxon VIPs, is set to go on display at Doncaster Museum.

A silver cross, found in Stainforth by resident Andrew Wilson, has been bought thanks to a grant from the Victoria and Albert Museum Purchase Grant Fund.

Match funding has been provided by both the Friends of Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery, and the Doncaster Civic Trust.

The pendant is one of very few ‘Carolingian’ finds in the UK with others being found in other historically-important areas such as York, London and Winchester.

Carolingian means of, or relating to, the dynasty that ruled in western Europe from 750 to 987.

Doncaster Council’s cabinet member for culture, leisure and tourism, Coun Bob Johnson said: “Doncaster Council’s museum service has worked hard to secure this very important and rare piece of Doncaster’s ancient history which, thanks to the generosity of the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Friends and the Civic Trust, now officially belongs to the people of Doncaster.”

He added: “It will shortly be placed on permanent display, in the By River and Road Gallery with a number of other key Anglo Saxon items and I am sure it will attract lots of visitors and help showcase our town’s impressive heritage.

“This cross pendant is unique, there being no parallel for it in Britain.

“In fact there have only been 22 recorded Carolingian metalwork artefacts found in England, most of which have been strap fittings or brooches.”

The cross would have been an expensive item, so the owner was likely to have been prestigious.

It was made using the latest jewellery-making techniques of the time - which involved twisting and soldering the metal.

The cross is the first object of its kind to be found in Stainforth - the town’s name deriving from Anglo Saxon and meaning ‘stony ford’.

Its discovery puts the town on the map for Anglo Saxon finds within the Doncaster area.

A spokesman for the museum added: “The importance and rarity of this object will also act as a source of pride and as an emblem of the heritage of Stainforth.”

Silver cross could have belonged to a visiting priest

The pendant comes from the time when Christianity was establishing itself in the British Isles and competing against the pagan religions of the Britons, and Anglo Saxons.

It is possible that it belonged to an envoy, perhaps a priest, who was visiting Britain on a diplomatic or religious mission.

He may have been an envoy from the court of the famous Frankish king Charlemagne, or an envoy of the Pope.

How it came to be lost in Stainforth is not known, but as Stainforth is a fording , or crossing point of the River Don, along an alternative route from Lincoln to York, the area would have seen many important travellers passing through it on official business.

 

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