Countyfile: Staffordshire

There's Anglo-Saxon gold in them there fields

Kate Simon
Saturday 21 July 2012 20:05 BST
The £3m Hoard was found by a man with a metal detector
The £3m Hoard was found by a man with a metal detector

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;; 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;; 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;; 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 (, a long-distance footpath connecting the cathedrals at Chester, in neighbouring Cheshire, and Lichfield in Staffordshire.

* Alton Towers (0871 222 3330;; 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;; 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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