STUNNING Anglo-Saxon jewellery discovered on a North-East farm will not be lost to the British Museum, in London, it was pledged yesterday.

The Government quashed fears of a battle to display the Loftus Saxon treasures to parallel the bitter row over the Lindisfarne Gospels.

Instead, Culture Minister Margaret Hodge vowed that the collection, found at a burial site uncovered last year near Loftus, east Cleveland, would go on show in a North-East museum.

She said grants were available to help the museum, probably The Kirkleatham, near Redcar, meet the estimated £75,000 bill to buy them.

The find, unearthed by archaeologists from Tees Archaeology, includes gold and silver brooches dating from the Seventh Century, possibly connected with the kings of Northumbria. The excavation also uncovered high-status objects, 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.

But, amid fears the British Museum would claim the treasures, a Commons debate was sponsored by Dr Ashok Kumar, the Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland.

Warning of a repeat of the row over the Lindisfarne Gospels, Dr Kumar said: "The bond between a specific area and historical treasures which originate from that area are very strong."

In reply, Ms Hodge said: "The British Museum has confirmed it is always their understanding that treasure funds would be acquired by a local museum.

"The path is entirely clear for the museum in Kirkleatham to acquire the objects."

The Loftus Saxon treasures are estimated to be worth up to £150,000, Under Government rules, half the market value is paid to the finder and the other half to the landowner.

However, Dr Kumar said the landowner had waived his payment because of his wish to see them displayed locally.

The 109 burials, arranged in a rectangular pattern, are the only known Anglo-Saxon royal burial site in the North.

Welcoming the minister's comments, Dr Kumar said: "This is very exciting for people in east Cleveland, who would have been very upset if the treasures had ended up in a London museum."