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Deal with Diözesanmuseum will enable artefacts to come home
A DEAL has been struck with a German museum which could see the Prittlewell Prince return home for the first time in a decade.
Council chiefs have brokered an agreement with a museum in Paderborn, which will allow the remains of the Anglo-Saxon aristocrat’s burial chamber, discovered in Priory Park in 2003, to go on display in the town.
The treasures have been locked away from inquisitive eyes for more than eight years while experts carry out painstaking conservation processes.
But the new agreement will see two separate exhibitions in Southend in eight months, with the first scheduled for May 2013.
Peter Vadden, the council’s group manager for culture, improvement and development, explained: “The council has been approached by the Diözesanmuseum Germany, to ask if we would be happy for a number of the Prittlewell Prince’s artefacts to be part of its major European exhibition.
“In return for the loan, the Diözesanmuseum will gift the air-conditioned show cases and displays to Southend Council to enable us to bring the Prittlewell Prince back to Southend on a temporary basis.”
Campaigners have been calling for the Prittlewell Prince to be returned to Southend for years.
Following their discovery, the treasures were whipped away by the Museum of London, which has automatic control over such artefacts, to ensure they did not deteriorate.
Apart from a brief exhibition in Southend’s Central Museum from February to March 2004, the remains have been kept in London ever since.
However, council bosses have been promised the artefacts will be returned to the town once the conservation and research process is complete next April – but only if it has a suitable home for them.
The council wants to build a new £35million museum on the seafront to house the treasures, although this plan has run into strong opposition from campaigners.
However, in the meantime, it cannot exhibit them without specialist cases and display tools, which cost thousands of pounds.
The deal with the Diözesanmuseum, which wants to borrow a small selection of the artefacts, would give the council the necessary equipment.
The treasures would then be displayed in Southend, in an as-yet-undecided venue, in May next year and January 2014 – before and after the planned July to November exhibition in Germany.
The move is expected to be rubber-stamped by the council’s Tory leadership at its meeting next week.
Mr Vadden said the Diözesanmuseum had also agreed to fund research which would compare a flagon from the Prittlewell Prince collection with the only other three flagons of its type in the world.
He added: “This will be paid for by the Diözesanmuseum and will enhance our research programme.
“Paderborn will also be the focal point for the Saxon Symposium next year, putting the Prittlewell Prince at the heart of discussions.”