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December, 2013

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Title:Rare Stainforth historical find comes home
Author:Doncaster Museum 
ID & Publication:20131211027 ~ 
 DMBC (4kb)

An Anglo Saxon VIP would have worn the beautiful silver cross which is now on show at Doncaster Museum.

The cross was found in Stainforth and has been bought thanks to a grant from the Victoria and Albert Museum Purchase Grant Fund and match funding from both the Friends of Doncaster Museum & Art Gallery and the Doncaster Civic Trust.

It shows Doncaster and Stainforth were at the epicentre of early Medieval culture – important nationally and in the wider world as the pendent was made on the continent.

The pendent is one of very few Carolingian finds in the UK with others being found in other historically important areas like York, London and Winchester. Carolingian means of or relating to the dynasty that ruled in western Europe from 750 to 987.

It would have been an expensive item and used the latest jewellery making techniques of twisting and soldering so the owner was likely to be prestigious.

The silver 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 the pendant belonged to an envoy, perhaps a priest, who was visiting Britain on a diplomatic or religious mission. Perhaps he was 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 we will probably never know, but as Stainforth is a fording (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.

Doncaster Council’s Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Tourism, Councillor 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 V&A, the Friends and the Civic Trust now officially belongs to the people of Doncaster.

‘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 during the life of the Portable Antiquities Scheme there have only been 22 recorded Carolingian metalwork artefacts found in England, most of which have been strap fittings or brooches.’

This is the first object of its kind from Stainforth (the name deriving from Anglo Saxon and meaning stony ford) and as such puts another important marker on the distribution map for Anglo Saxon finds within the borough. The importance and rarity of this object will also act as a source of pride and as an emblem of the heritage of Stainforth.

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Author: 'Doncaster Museum'   Area: 'Stainforth'
Title: 'Rare Stainforth historical find comes home'   Category 'History'
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