Famous Peterborough treasures are reunited for grand exhibition

Treasures Exhibition at Peterborough Museum.  The Becket Casket EMN-180823-200727009
Treasures Exhibition at Peterborough Museum. The Becket Casket EMN-180823-200727009
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A momentous year for culture in Peterborough has become even better after internationally renowned ‘treasures’ made their way to the city for a superb new exhibition.

Collections from national institutions such as the British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum are now on display at Peterborough Museum in Priestgate.

Each one of the treasures has a connection with the city, but this is the first time they have been reunited.

Their return to Peterborough comes in the same year as the cathedral turns 900, while the city has also celebrated the installation of Antony Gormley sculptures on top of three buildings in the city centre, and the hosting of astronaut Tim Peake’s famed Soyuz spacecraft.

Exhibition curator Julia Habeshaw from Vivacity said the project had first been suggested 10 years ago, with two years of solid work helping to piece everything together.

“I think this is as exciting as it gets,” she said. “The objects are of international importance and to do with Peterborough’s history.

“People will be really surprised about the rich history Peterborough has.

“These objects have never been shown in Peterborough as a group so it’s a great opportunity and a fantastic visitor experience. We’ve had an amazing response so far with people really surprised by what they are seeing.”

Stunning artefacts include The Water Newton Treasure, a hoard of 28 vessels and plaques found in 1975 at Water Newton, the Roman town of Durobrivae,

It is the earliest known group of Christian church silver from the whole of the Roman Empire and its discovery is of international importance.

It is likely to have been used for Christian ceremony, probably Communion, in a church of some description.

There is also the Becket Casket, an ornately decorated casket commissioned by Abbot Benedict of Peterborough after the saint’s death, and believed to have held his relics, and the Manuscripts of Peterborough Abbey which were precious books for monks.

The exhibition is being supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund through a grant of £87,200 as well as by the Weston Loan Programme with Art Fund.

It runs until January 6, 2019.

Vivacity’s director of culture, Richard Hunt said: “This year has been a momentous one for Peterborough in terms of treasures.

“It just goes to show how Peterborough has been nationally important throughout history and continues to be so in 2018 when the city is celebrating the 900th anniversary of the cathedral.”

The exhibition is the first phase in Vivacity’s two-part ‘Treasures’ project for the city, and will be followed by a community focused exhibition entitled ‘Treasured People and Possessions’ in 2019.