I see the childish posturing and infantile one-upmmanship over the Staffordshire Hoard still continues. I’ve made my feelings known about the saga of the Saxon loot before, but today, I noticed that somebody – and I assume it’s Staffordshire or Lichfield Council – have decided to spend a load of cash on new signs, the one above on the Lichfield Road at Sandhills. Pointlessly puffing the treasure’s discovery, apparently ‘…in the parish of Hammerwich’. I can see no particular justification for this ostentation. In this case, new posts have been erected and the superfluous signage has been added underneath the county boundary sign. I presume there must be other such notices at other locations, and to be honest, they’re causing me some confusion.
I could understand the waste of money on such a project if either council concerned had any to waste – but with ongoing reductions in public services, neither authority has much cash to play with. I’m puzzled as to the intention; any local knows where Hammerwich is and where the loot was found, and that the two aren’t the same place; anyone else would surely have to look up more information, as the sign isn’t informative enough to direct one to the location of the find. This particularly white elephantine erection seems just to be for civic willy waving – there has been long running friction over the location of the treasure and which civic authority can truly claim to be playing host. Found just a few metres over the border in Staffordshire, Brownhills folk often assert the gold to be their own, yet Hammerwich seem keen to claim their stake, too; in the early days Lichfield made a play, but the media soon settled on Staffordshire. This seems right to most people as Brownhills used to be in the venerable county before the creation of the West Midlands. Books, articles and other ephemera have now been produced proclaiming the Staffordshire Hoard, as well as a successful touring exhibition. There’s still some low-level protest, which would be more convincing if Staffordshire hadn’t have had to go cap in hand to Birmingham for a major portion of the funds to secure their golden egg.
When I first passed this sign this morning, something troubled me, but I couldn’t put my finger on just what. It wasn’t until researching the matter tonight that I found out just what: the sign is wrong. If one checks the parish maps on the Church of England website, the field where the Hoard was found isn’t in the parish of Hammerwich; it’s in the parish of Brownhills. You’d have thought they’d have checked before shelling out on signage…
Arguably, of course, the find was made in the ancient area of Ogley Hay, the existence of which predates both Hammerwich, Brownhills and the Domesday Book – but Japanese tourists would have a hard job finding Ogley Hay on a map and as the erector of this inflammatory, apparently incorrect sign demonstrates, we should never let the truth get in the way of a bit of publicity.