There's Anglo-Saxon gold in them there fields
Kate Simon is the Travel Correspondent of The Independent and The Independent on Sunday. She was Travel Editor of The Independent on Sunday from 2005 to 2011. Kate is also the co-founder of Little Black Book Creative (www.lbbcreative.co.uk), which offers editorial services, media relations consultancy and travel-writing training.
Sunday 22 July 2012
The largest and most valuable find ever of Anglo-Saxon treasure takes centre-stage this weekend with the opening of "Staffordshire Hoard: Dark Age Discovery" at The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery (01782 236000; visitstoke.co.uk; admission free) in Stoke-on-Trent.
The exhibition tells the story of the Hoard, estimated to be worth more than £3m, since its 2009 discovery in a field by Terry Herbert and his metal detector. The Staffordshire Saxon makes his first appearance, too. The 9ft-tall (2.74m) cast bronze resin statue, which stands in the museum's lobby, has been dressed and equipped as a warrior at the time of the Hoard, byits creator, artist Andy Edwards.
* Another local statue worth seeing is Perseus With the Head of Medusa, the only copy in existence of the 16th-century original by Benvenuto Cellini, which resides in the Loggia dei Lanzi in Florence. This 19th-century version has stood by Capability Brown's lake at the Trentham Estate (01782 657341; trentham.co.uk; admission £8.20) since 1847. But you'll need to be quick to see it in its usual surroundings this summer – the 4m-high sculpture is due to leave for the Royal Academy of Art in London by mid-August for a major autumn exhibition called "Bronze".
* While you're at Trentham, call in at the UK's only Monkey Forest (01782 659845; monkey-forest.com; admission £7.50), where you can mingle with the 140 Barbary macaques that call this 60-acre woodland home. And shake off your shoes at Trentham's Barefoot Trail — a short walk across materials such as mulch, pebbles and mud, inspired by a German wellbeing concept dreamt up in the 19th-century.
* For more spiritual invigoration, step out on the new Two Saints Way (twosaintsway.org), a long-distance footpath connecting the cathedrals at Chester, in neighbouring Cheshire, and Lichfield in Staffordshire.
* Alton Towers (0871 222 3330; altontowers.com; family admission for two adults and up to four children from £19.50 per person) has two new attractions for 2012. Its underground ride Nemesis Sub-Terra promises thrills that will chill, while Ice Age: The 4D Experience is the latest show in the Cloud Cuckoo Land Theatre.
* No trip to Staffordshire would be complete without visiting one of the potteries after which this area is named. Wedgwood Visitor Centre (01782 282986; wedgwoodvisitorcentre.com; admission £10) in Barlaston has just launched a new guided tour of its factory, while the Craft Demonstration Area is the place to see traditional skills in action, such as enamelling and figurine painting.
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