Rare Anglo-Saxon pendant voted favourite Art Fund work of 2018

An Anglo-Saxon pendant found in Winfarthing, Norfolk and acquired by Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery has been voted the nation’s favourite acquisition of the year.

Voters were invited to choose from a shortlist of 10 works of art and objects that Art Fund has helped UK museums and galleries to acquire in 2018, encompassing painting, sculpture and treasure.

Discovered in December 2014 by a metal detectorist, the seventh-century gold and garnet pendant is the highlight of a trove of artefacts unearthed in Winfarthing, near Diss.

The excavation, carried out by Norfolk County Council’s Find Identification and Recording Service, found the grave to belong to an aristocratic Anglo-Saxon lady who died between AD 650-675 and was buried among some of her most valued possessions.

The pendant was declared treasure under the 1996 Treasure Act and was purchased in 2018 by Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery with support from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, Art Fund and the Friends of Norwich Museums.

Dr Tim Pestell, senior curator of archaeology at Norfolk Museums Service, said: ‘We are absolutely thrilled that the Winfarthing Pendant has been named as Britain’s favourite work of art in Art Fund’s annual poll, especially so given the quality of this year’s shortlist which contained some truly remarkable works.

‘It’s intriguing to think what the pendant’s seventh-century creator would make of the lasting appeal of their masterpiece, well over a millennium after it was first crafted.

‘We’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone that voted for this unique treasure and we’re looking forward to it going back on display in the Anglo-Saxon and Viking Gallery here at Norwich Castle in spring 2019, after it returns from its loan to the British Library for Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms: Art, Word, War.’

Five thousand members of the public voted in this year's poll, choosing from a list of works ranging from Grayson Perry’s Posh Art at Victoria Art Gallery, Artemisia Gentileschi’s Self-Portrait as Saint Catherine of Alexandria at the National Gallery, Yinka Shonibare’s Earth at Wolverhampton Art Gallery and Leonora Carrington’s Portrait of Max Ernst at National Galleries of Scotland to an unknown artist’s Am Not I a Man and a Brother at the International Slavery Museum.

All those who voted were entered into a free prize draw to win a lifetime National Art Pass worth £1,850.

Previous winners of Art Fund work of the year include The Monarch of the Glen (c1851) by Edwin Landseer, acquired by National Galleries Scotland in 2017, and the Armada Portrait of Elizabeth I (1588), acquired by Royal Museums Greenwich in 2016.

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