MP calls for national treasures to tour the country

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Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery has called for the Lindisfarne Gospels to be loaned out around the country more often so people do not have to travel to London to see them.

The Gospels will be on show for three months in Durham City, a move welcomed by the Labour member.

But he feels they should be more accessible and more often.

”Everyone is delighted to be able to celebrate the Gospels’ return to the north east along with the wonderful exhibition that has been built up around them, and I am certain people of all ages will flock to see them,” he said.

“However, without being negative, I believe that we need to make sure iconic cultural artefacts like the Gospels are more accessible to people up and done the country on a regular basis.”

The Gospels are believed to have been written and illustrated by Eadrith, Bishop of Lindisfarne, between 687 and his death in 721 as a tribute to St Cuthbert.

They will be on display at Durham University’s Palace Green Library until the end of September, along with other Anglo-Saxon artefacts to help tell the St Cuthbert story.

Mr Lavery said the Gospels are not just one of the Christian world’s greatest treasures, they are an integral part of the cultural heritage of the north east.

“As such, the people of the north east see the Gospels as ours and have been upset at the flat refusal over many years of the British Library to allow even a temporary loan to the region.

“Given that such treasures belong to all the people of this country there should be a much greater requirement on our national museums to loan such artefacts to the regions.

“Museums do loan items but generally they are ones they see as being of lesser importance.

“The British Library should not expect people from regions such as ours to travel to London to see them.

“We have world-class museums in the region that are perfectly capable of housing these artefacts, and you can take the argument a stage further by asking why all national museums are in London.”

“We should be looking at creating national museum outposts up and down the country, especially in view of the government’s latest spending review that could spell dangerous times and even closure for museums around the country.

“Rather than seeking funds to extend or refurbish London sites, why not create outposts within existing museums where people can see the treasures they want to see and experience what other people are experiencing.

“The visit of the Gospels to Durham will prove an inspiration to people and groups to engage with their cultural heritage, so we need to make sure such iconic cultural artefacts are more accessible to people all over the country, regardless of whether or not they have the money to travel to London to see them.”