Ancient treasures make a welcome return to the North East

Some of England's most precious cultural and historic treasures are to temporarily return to the North East

Alex Croom, keeper of archaeology, with the Regina Tombstone
Alex Croom, keeper of archaeology, with the Regina Tombstone

Meticulous preparations are being made to welcome back some of England’s most precious cultural and historic treasures as they temporarily return to the North East.

Their exhibition will form part of South Tyneside Council’s three year Treasures Programme, which celebrates the area’s cultural and religious identity. Thousands of visitors are expected to descend on museums across South Tyneside over the coming months to appreciate priceless historical treasures from the region.

The treasures have all been loaned from the British Museum and the British Library and range from gold jewellery to Roman antiquities. The oldest surviving edition of the Boldon Book will also be making the journey north.

Geoff Woodward, Manager for North and South Tyneside Museums at Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, said: “The book – the earliest surviving manuscript of the survey of the Bishop of Durham’s estates in Durham and Northumberland - was made in 1183, and is, quite simply, irreplaceable.

“The book is part of a much larger document, written in Latin and full of insights into everyday life at the time - such as people supplying chickens and eggs as part of their rent and that everyone was given 13 days holiday over Christmas.”

The Treasures programme will be made up of a series of themed exhibitions and began in May, at Bede’s World, in Jarrow, where a full sized replica of the Codex Amiatinus is on display as part of the Bede’s Great Bible exhibit. The Codex was one of three single volume Bibles produced for the Pope in Wearmouth-Jarrow between 690–716.

Originally housed in San Salvatore, at a monastery in Amiata, Italy, from which the text takes its name, it recently made an appearance at a church service in Jarrow, for which it was given a five man guard of honour from 205 Battery 101 Regiment Royal Artillery.

From July 19, Bede’s World will be hosting a double-header of North East history as it also opens its Banners of the North exhibit. This will include items such as a 15th century gold signet ring, believed to have belonged to the Percy family, and a gold pendant depicting St George slaying the dragon.

The mayor of South Tyneside, Coun Fay Cunningham, said: “South Tyneside has played a crucial role in all aspects of cultural and religious development throughout the ages and these treasures are testament to that.”

Also this summer, Arbeia Roman Fort and Museum will begin its stewardship of some of the region’s treasures of the Roman occupation, including the second century Shield Boss, found near the mouth of the River Tyne in 1866 and the Regina tombstone, among other significant discoveries made around the fort’s site. These will form The Glory of Rome: Arbeia’s Greatest Treasures exhibition.


David Whetstone
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