British Museum treasures on their way to Bede’s World in Jarrow

Bede's World in Jarrow is to stage a treasures exhibition with precious items being loaned from the British Museum

A gold amulet ring which may have been a lucky charm for its owner
A gold amulet ring which may have been a lucky charm for its owner

A historical treasure trove of gold jewellery and precious items with links to the North East is to go on display in the region later this month.

The items, which include rings, badges and pendants dating back to the Middle Ages, were all either found in the North East or belonged to someone who lived in, or visited, the area.

Now the items, on loan from the British Museum, are to return to the region for the Banners of the North exhibition, which opens at Bede’s World in Jarrow on July 19 as part of a three-year Treasures programme, highlighting the region’s heritage and identity.

Among the highlights will be a 15th Century gold signet ring, believed to have belonged to Henry Percy, 3rd Earl of Northumberland, who died in the Wars of the Roses Battle of Towton in 1461 - believed to be the battle with the highest death toll to be fought on English soil.

There will also be coins from the reigns of medieval kings Alexander III and Edwards I and IV, along with a Papal ring, of gilded copper alloy and glass, which bears the arms of the family of Pope Paul II.

Other items will include a 15th Century seal of the See of Durham, a gold amulet ring, a pilgrim badge and a gold pendant depicting St George slaying the dragon.

The items will form part of a larger exhibition looking at what life was like in the North between the 11th and 15th Centuries and the importance of saints, such as St Cuthbert and St George.

“Throughout the Middle Ages the North East was at the heart of cultural and religious life,” said Mike Benson, director at Bede’s World. “The exhibition will really give an indication of the way in which people here lived and the challenges they faced.”

To celebrate the opening of the exhibition, Bede’s World is also holding a folk festival over the weekend of July 18-20, which will be opened with a procession of miners’ banners from the area, followed by a ceilidh and sing along with the Deadly Ernest Ceilidh Band and South Shields Folk Club.

Throughout the summer, Bede’s World will also be holding workshops and talks from local residents and organisations along with a programme of family activities focusing on themes of medieval life, such as relics, cookery, warfare, heraldry, medicine and Fires of Faith.

The Treasures programme – which began in May with the arrival at Bede’s World of the only full size copy of the Codex Amiatinus bible created at the Jarrow monastery - will also include the earliest surviving manuscript of the 12th Century Boldon Book, due to go on display at South Shields Museum & Art Gallery, from July 17.

The Boldon Book was a Domesday book-style survey of what would become County Durham.

In addition, Arbeia Roman Fort, South Shields, will feature some of Britain’s best Roman finds along with the Second Century shield boss, found near the mouth of the River Tyne in 1866, in its The Glory of Rome: Arbeia’s Greatest Treasures exhibition.

“Seeing treasures such as these in the area which inspired them is truly awe-inspiring,” said the mayor of South Tyneside, Fay Cunningham. “It makes you very proud indeed have such a rich and diverse heritage.”

For further information about the full range of exhibitions and displays which make up the Treasures programme visit www.bedesworld.co.uk or www.twmuseums.org.uk.

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer