In August 2010 Contemporary British Silversmiths member Shona Marsh was approached by Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery to make a replica of a damaged cross found in the Staffordshire Hoard in 2009. The objects in this Anglo Saxon hoard date from 700AD and its links to an early Christian society drew the personal attention of the Pope. Such was his interest that it was decided to present the replica cross as a gift to the Pope from the city of Birmingham during his tour of the UK.
Made of solid gold and found with garnets the cross may have been an altar or processional piece and it is thought that it was crushed in order to fit it into the hoard.
To create the piece Shona visited the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery to document and study the cross with the CAD team from the Jewellery Industry Innovation Centre who donated their time to the project. Segments were then constructed using CAD, and cast in silver along with the 5 settings for the garnets. The main frame of the cross was cut out of silver kindly donated by Cookson Precious Metals and the segments were then soldered together, gold plated and set with garnets. It was fitted into a hand made box created by local craftsman Chris Croton of Britain Clockcase Ltd.
Two more replicas will also be produced; one for the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery the other for the Stoke Museum where it will be displayed with the hoard cross. In its crushed condition, the original cross sitting alongside the replica will give a unique insight into how it would have originally looked.
On the 17th September Shona presented the cross to Councillor Alan Rudge, cabinet member for equalities and human resources and Birmingham lead for the Papal visit. Councillor Rudge said: “This is a great example of Birmingham businesses working together and supporting the city to produce a unique gift that is ‘Made in Birmingham’. When it goes to the Vatican with His Holiness it will undoubtedly be a reminder of this historic event in our great city. The production of the cross will also have a lasting legacy as we will have designs and skills to produce more modest versions to go on display in the future with the Staffordshire Hoard in Birmingham and Stoke.”
The cross was presented to the Pope by Councillor Rudge at the Beatification Mass of John Henry Newman on the 19th September 2010.