THE battle to keep ancient Anglo Saxon artefacts in the region could be heading to the House of Commons.

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP Ashok Kumar, is seeking a special House of Commons debate to secure the future of the rare collection of treasures unearthed in Loftus.

He hopes to be able to keep the treasures for public viewing at Kirkleatham Museum, near Redcar.

The find, recently unearthed by archaeologists from Tees Archaeology, includes gold and silver brooches, dating back to the seventh century that may have connections with the kings of Northumbria.

The excavation also uncovered a range of high status jewellery including glass beads, pottery, iron knives and belt buckles.

An aerial photograph, showing evidence of an Iron Age site, gave archaeologist Steve Sherlock the first clues to the buried treasure.

The excavations, which began in 2005 and continued under Mr Sherlock's supervision with help from Tees Archaeology and local volunteers, working four to six weeks every summer, have covered an area the size of half a football pitch.

Dr Kumar said: "This is a stunning find and gives us a vivid picture of life amongst high class Saxon families living in the seventh or eight century.

I understand from Tees Archaeology and Kirkleatham Museum that the next step is for experts from the British Museum in London to value and assess the importance of these finds and make decisions on their future.

"I believe it is essential that they are kept in this area, and not sent down to a London-based museum. I - and I believe everyone in east Cleveland - would want to see these treasures kept here so that local people and local schoolchildren can view them as part of their local heritage and as a visual aid to their understanding of the past.

"This is the only known Anglo Saxon royal burial site in the north of England. It is the most dramatic find of Anglo Saxon material for generations. We simply cannot afford to lose these precious reminders of our past. I will be seeking to call a special adjournment debate on this issue, so I can put before Culture Ministers the case for keeping these treasures here where they were found."