The discovery of the Staffordshire Hoard in a muddy field near Burntwood has had a seismic effect in the world of archaeology and has led to claims that the history of the middle ages may have to be reconsidered. The response from Walsall Council to this remarkable and profoundly important find also needs some consideration.
The ever dependable YamYam has run a story ahead of the local dead tree press reporting on our long awaited civic reaction as to where the shiny treasure should be kept. It seems that our leader, the irrepressible Mike Bird, believes that Walsall is incapable of housing the trove. He says that Walsall does not possess the capability to care for and examine this momentous discovery when every archaeologist and historian in the country would sell their souls just to see this collection of gold.
The purveyor of corporate insignia has described suggestions that The New Art Gallery in Walsall should be the home of the Hoard as “irresponsible”, a word he seems to use as often as a sufferer from Tourretts syndrome uses the F word. Perhaps he has Coprolalia, a condition that results in the involuntary utterance of socially inappropriate and derogatory remarks. His performances in the council chamber might verify this and his mental state has to be questioned.
He was joined in council by Adrian Andrew, the deputy leader, in proposing that the government should pay to keep the Hoard in the Kingdom of Mercia. Councillor Andrew has overseen the death of the ancient Brownhills Market, also in the Kingdom of Mercia. Two other councillors signed the motion, David Turner, the invisible man of Brownhills and Alan Paul who, as the hippo has observed, has something of the Tommy Cooper about him.
Councils in Staffordshire, Lichfield, Tamworth and Birmingham and the Art Fund are campaigning furiously to keep the goodies in the Midlands and have already come up with over £800,000 to keep them here. Walsall has raised nothing – zilch – nada – zero.
Ethelred the Unready is regarded as one of the worst Kings of England. Unable to resist Viking attacks, he decided to pay the Scandinavian raiders to go away with Danegelt – a tactic that proved remarkably unsuccessful. Ethelred`s very name is an Anglo-Saxon compound word meaning “noble” and “counsel”. This was soon corrupted to mean bad council after his decision to try and buy his way out of trouble, hence Ethelred the Unready.
Councillor Bird may wish to contemplate his legacy when considering what he has achieved for Walsall. Unready or incapable – history will be the judge