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Cambridge museum close to buying wooden bust of Virgin Mary

Museum needs to raise just under £14,000 more to buy artefact Credit: Fitzwilliam Musem

Fundraisers at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge say they're just under£14,000 short of raising what they need to buy a 350 year-old wooden bust of the Virgin Mary.

The "Virgin of Sorrows" is just 34cm tall and has been on display there over the summer.

It is considered one of the finest examples of its kind. The tears are made from glass and the eyelashes from human hair.

The museum has until the end of the month to raise the £85,000 total they need.

Fundraising to buy statue is going well Credit: Fitzwilliam Museum

The thing about this bust is that it is not one of those lugubrious virgins with rolling eyes that one associates with Spanish religious art. Here instead is a strikingly simple, and arrestingly intense, portrait of a beautiful young woman.

– Tim Knox, Director of Fitzwilliam Museum

Bail extension for 24 arrested over rhino horn theft

24 people who were arrested as part of a national investigation into high-value museum thefts have had their bail extended.

The 20 men, two women and two teenage boys were arrested in September in connection with six crimes over a four-month period at museums and auction houses across England.

Chinese artefacts and rhinoceros horn were targeted in six incidents - two thefts and an attempted theft from Durham University Oriental Museum and further incidents at Gorringes Auction House in East Sussex, Norwich Castle Museum in Norfolk and the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge.

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Cambridge expert identifies rare Anglo Saxon coin

The coin of Aethelberht II Credit: PA

A Cambridge museum has helped identify a rare coin.

Experts at the Early Medieval Corpus of Coin Finds at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge recognised the coin was 1,200-year-old silver penny, minted during the reign of Aethelberht II.

The coin, the only one of its type to be discovered, is expected to fetch between £15,000 and £20,000 at auction.

It was found by Darrin Simpson, 48, from Eastbourne, East Sussex in March.

He said: "It was a bit of a shock really, I couldn't sleep for two nights after it was identified.

"The condition is really good. This is a unique coin. I doubt if I will ever find anything better."

The coin is only the fourth ever found from the reign of Aethelberht II, a shadowy figure who ruled East Anglia in the late eighth-century.

The coin found by Mr Simpson is the first to have Aethelberht's name and the title Rex (king) on the same side.

This declaration of independence by the East Anglian king could provide a clue as to why he was murdered by a neighbouring monarch.

The coin will be auctioned in London on June 11.

Museum theft arrests

Four more people have been arrested in connection with a national investigation into high-value museum thefts.

A 30-year-old man and two 17-year-old boys were arrested in London, while a 37-year-old man was arrested in Hull.

All four are being held on suspicion of conspiracy to burgle.

The latest arrests come a week after 20 people were arrested following a series of dawn raids across England and Northern Ireland.

The 18 men and two women have since been bailed until January.

Chinese artefacts and rhinoceros horn were targeted in six incidents - two thefts and an attempted theft from Durham University Oriental Museum and further incidents at Gorringes Auction House in East Sussex, Norwich Castle Museum in Norfolk and the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge.

  1. Matthew Hudson

Arrests after police museum theft raids

Police have carried out dozens of early morning raids in connection with a string of high profile museum robberies.

Millions of pounds worth of Chinese artefacts were stolen from the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge and a rhino horn was stolen from the Norwich Castle Museum last year.

Today 26 forces across the country and the Serious Organised Crime Agency carried out a string of raids, targeting suspected gang members. Matthew Hudson reports.

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Fitzwilliam Museum says arrests are major step forward

The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge Credit: ITV News Anglia

The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge has released this statement about the early morning arrests in connection with last years museum thefts

Tim Knox, Director said, "This recent action is a major step forward for all the institutions involved in the investigation.

We have been impressed with the support we have received from Cambridgeshire Police so far and would like to thank all the officers involved locally and nationally.

19 arrests after museum theft raids

Police carrying out early morning raids Credit: Cambridgeshire Police

19 people have been arrested across the UK as part of a combined operation following a serious of raids a museums, including the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge and Norwich Castle Museum.

17 men and 2 women are currently in custody following early morning raids across the UK.

Police carrying out early morning raids Credit: Cambridgeshire Police

Four men, aged 24, 41, 44 and 56 were arrested in Cambridgeshire.

Two men, aged 28 and 46 were arrested in Essex.

Five men aged 20, 31,35, 53 and 54 and two women aged, 28 and 54 were arrested in London.

Chinese artefacts stolen Credit: Cambridgeshire Police

A 60 -year-old man was arrested in Sussex, a 32 year-old man was arrested in the West Midlands and a 67-year-old man in Nottingham.

Three men have also been arrested in Northern Ireland.

All of those arrested are being held on suspicion of conspiracy to burgle, apart from the 54-year-old woman who was arrested on suspicion of perverting the course of justice.

The arrests are in connection with six crimes which took place last year where Chinese artefacts and a rhino horn were stolen.

The empty cabinet where the rhino horn was stolen from Credit: ITV News Anglia

Police carry out raids following thefts from museums in Norwich and Cambridge

Stolen chinese artefact Credit: Cambridgeshire Police

Police forces across the country are carrying out searches in different locations after a series of robberies at museums, including the Fitzwilliam in Cambridge and Norwich Castle.

Officers from 26 police forces and the Serious Organised Crime Agency are involved.

The national operation follows six crimes which took place over four months last year with warrants being issued in Cambridgeshire, Essex, London, Sussex, the West Midlands and Northern Ireland.

Chinese artefacts and a rhinoceros horn were stolen during the robberies.

So far there have been arrests in the West Midlands, with a man in his thirties being arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit burglary.

Police say much of the stolen material has been recovered, but several valuable items are still missing.

So far 8 people have been convicted and jailed for their roles in the break-ins, including the raid at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge.

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