Appeal from Maidstone Museum for funds to buy historic Hollingbourne artefacts. – UPDATED.

 

Hollingbourne Parish Council has been asked to consider making a contribution towards the £5000 needed to purchase a number of historic artefacts that have been found in the village. Contributions are also welcome from local residents and charities. Please Read More for further information. UPDATE – It was agreed at the October Parish Council meeting to pledge £500 towards the cost of purchasing the artefacts.

The text of the request to the Parish Council from the Collections Manager at Maidstone Museum is as follows:-

As Collections Manager for Maidstone Museum I am responsible for the acquisition, care, research and access to the vast and varied collections we hold. I am contacting you regarding an exciting archaeological find from Hollingbourne which has been deemed a Treasure Case, and to see if the Parish Council would be interested in being involved in Maidstone Museum’s acquisition of the items. I have given a little bit of information here about the objects we need fundraising for and a little information about the Museum itself by way of an introduction.

The British Museum has recently asked Maidstone Museum to express interest in acquiring Treasure Case 2014 T90 which was excavated in Hollingbourne. It is for an assemblage of grave-goods probably belonging to an Anglo-Saxon (Kentish) woman of the late 6th-early 7th Centuries (c.575-625 AD). The Treasure Case has been designated as nationally important and you can view the list of finds in more detail, and images here: https://finds.org.uk/database/artefacts/record/id/768320.

This Treasure Case has been valued by the coroner at £10,000, so we will be applying to the Art Fund/Purchase Grant Fund for £5,000 of this (they will find a maximum of 50% of the purchase price if we are successful). We will be fundraising for the remaining £5,000 through applications to local funders such as local organisations, Parish Councils, and charities.

There are a number of reasons why we would like to make this acquisition:

Firstly, this assemblage would strengthen our current collection; our British Archaeology collection is very strong, the Anglo-Saxon collection is of international importance numbering roughly 2,000 objects, rivalled only by Liverpool for Jutish/Frankish material. The main Museum collection, of which these pieces would become a part, is coupled with that of the Kent Archaeological Society, which is of outstanding regional and national importance. The Kent Archaeological Society has been housed in Maidstone Museum since its inception in 1858 and we care for, store and exhibit their historic collection. Given the existing parallels between these pieces and those pieces already on display and in the collection, especially the Bifrons object, this acquisition would enable us to tell a more complete story of the Anglo-Saxon period in Kent.

Secondly, it fits with our collecting policy; Anglo-Saxon material is the only material that Maidstone Museums are still collecting County wide. Other collections are limited to Maidstone Borough. This decision was taken due to the current Anglo-Saxon collection being so strong. As Maidstone Museum is the only collecting institution based in the area of the find we would like to acquire the assemblage in order to keep the objects publically accessible as close to the find spot as possible.

Thirdly, these artefacts are of key importance to archaeologists’ developing understanding of Anglo-Saxon jewellery development in Kent. The disc-on-bow brooches unequivocally link the two types, disc brooches and bow brooches, that are prolific through Kent. There are only two other examples with the disc still attached to the bow (one from Howletts and one from Dover) both of which are held outside of Kent in the British Museum. Aside from the two disc-on-bow brooches the presence of discs, square headed bow brooches and silver pins in the same assemblage is also interesting. This potentially shows a transition, cross-over or hybrid of styles as archaeologists believe that square headed brooches went out of style around 560/570AD and silver pins had come into fashion by the 7th-Century. Clearly, this assemblage is very important in developing our understanding of Kentish high-status female Anglo-Saxon dress.

To give you a little more information about Maidstone Museum: Maidstone Museums is a Local Authority Museum Service comprising of three museums across two sites in the town of Maidstone; Maidstone Museum & Bentlif Art Gallery, The Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regimental Museum and the Tyrwhitt-Drake Museum of Carriages. We cater for 80,000 visitors and 9,000 children per year through our galleries, school workshops, events programme and research service.

If you could let me know if/how we can apply for funding, or if Hollingbourne Parish Council would be in a position for any other involvement, it would be very much appreciated. A similar fundraising project was undertaken a few years ago between the Museum and local community for the acquisition of the Boughton Malherbe hoard, the 3rd largest Bronze Age hoard found in the UK, and this resulted in talks with the community living near the find site, who contributed towards the acquisition and connected with the heritage around them.

We look forward to hearing from you,

Many thanks

Samantha Harris BA (Hons), MA

Collections Manager

Maidstone Borough Council

Maidstone Museum & Bentlif Art Gallery, St. Faith’s Street, Maidstone, Kent, ME14 1LH

t 01622 602855  www.maidstonemuseum.org  e samanthaharris@maidstone.gov.uk