Today’s announcement of a multi-million pound city museum has sparked a campaign to bring Milton Keynes’ very own treasure trove back home where it belongs.
For almost half a century valuable archaeological finds unearthed before housing estates were built have been on display at either the British Museum or Aylesbury’s Buckinghamshire County Museum – because MK had nowhere secure to display them.
The treasures include the Milton Keynes Hoard, one of the biggest Bronze Age gold collections in Great Britain found by metal detectorists in a field near Monkston, as well as hundreds of Roman Silver coins dug up in Little Brickhill.
There is also a host of Roman finds from the historic Bancroft site, Roman coins from Walton, Bronze Age weapons from New Bradwell, Iron Age gold from Whaddon and Medieval pottery and funeral ware from Bradwell Abbey.
Other less valuable, but still historic, artefacts are hidden away from public view in a council storage vault in Bletchley.
More than 40 years ago a group of volunteers set up the Stacey Hill Collection with the aim of putting the city’s “rich historical heritage” on display to the public.
Still based at the same former farmhouse in Wolverton, and now called Milton Keynes Museum, it has this week been granted £7.5 million from the council, heritage lottery fund and arts council for a new museum building.
Director Bill Griffiths said: “This will give us a chance to bring home some of the very important artefacts that belong here but which – without a modern museum on this scale – have had to be stored or dispersed to other museums in the UK.”
But city experts say the new museum could be facing a tough battle. For although many of the artefacts are only on loan to other museums, there is no guarantee they will give them back.
Milton Keynes Heritage Consortium member Henk van Aswegen said: “The aim of everybody is to get these items back to Milton Keynes. But when another museum has things on a long term or permanent loan it can be an extremely difficult situation.
“Then there is the question of the temperature-controlled, highly secure facilities needed to display these items – and the money needed to pay for those.
“It’s not going to be easy, but people should certainly start campaigning.”