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Ancient brooch returned to Museum almost 30 years after theft

Date Published: 13 September 2021
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An Anglo-Saxon brooch stolen from Rutland County Museum has been returned almost 30 years after it went missing.

The bronze-gilt Square-Headed brooch (originally discovered in Market Overton) was taken from the museum at night in 1995, along with eight other brooches and a Roman gold ring. The ring was recovered soon after the theft.

The brooch was sent by post to the Metropolitan Police anonymously at the end of last year. They checked where it could have been stolen from with the Art Loss Register, who were able to identify that it was a match with their record of the brooch stolen from the Rutland County Museum. Following this identification, the Metropolitan Police stored the brooch safely until it could be returned to the museum following the easing of COVID-19 restrictions. 

The brooch itself is part of a collection belonging to Oakham School and is on loan at Rutland County Museum as an important artefact and a significant piece of local history. It was welcomed back to the museum on Monday 2 August by representatives of Rutland County Council, the Metropolitan Police, The Art Loss Register and insurers Zurich. 

“The theft of these important artefacts was a huge loss to the County, and we are so pleased to have one of the items returned. These beautiful pieces of ancient craftsmanship provide an important link to our past. They belong on public display so that people have the opportunity to learn about our rich and unique local history. Special thanks must go to the Metropolitan Police, The Art Loss Register and Zurich, without whom it would not have been possible to secure the return of the brooch.” Councillor Lucy Stephenson, Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure at Rutland County Council

 “The Art and Antiques Unit is pleased to have played a part in keeping the item safe and facilitating its return. We are glad it has now been returned to the museum where it can be enjoyed and studied for years to come.” Detective Constable Sophie Hayes from the Metropolitan Police

 “We are delighted that our records were able to provide the link that meant the brooch could be returned to the Museum. The detailed long term records held on our database are an invaluable resource used by law enforcement agencies worldwide in support of their work, and it is great to see the positive impact of that collaboration rather closer to home.” James Ratcliffe, Director of Recoveries & General Counsel at the Art Loss Register

“It’s not often we are able to return a stolen item to a customer, particularly some 15+ years after the event, so to be able to return this piece of Anglo Saxon jewellery to the customer was very satisfying and great outcome for all in involved. Over recent years we have endeavoured to strengthen our subrogation/recovery capabilities and as part of that effort we have established a strong partnership with the Art Loss Register which has ultimately led to a number of recoveries for Zurich and our customers.”  Zurich Insurance UK spokesperson

Rutland County Council is appealing for people to be on the lookout for artefacts that may have been stolen from public collections – including the eight brooches still missing. Important artefacts without provenance may have been innocently bought by collectors at antique fairs, unaware that they belong to the whole community. Anyone with information about suspected stolen artefacts or artworks is urged to come forward to help return items to their rightful owners, so they can once again be appreciated by everyone.

Rutland County Museum is open to the public on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 10am to 4pm. Entry is free for adults and children of all ages. For more information, please visit: rutlandcountymuseum.org.uk.


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