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Remember how The Big Society was going to fill gaps in Heritage funding left by the retreat of the State through volunteers and philanthropy? It doesn’t seem to be working that way in the museums sector.

The Museums Association has just published a survey of the impact of funding cuts which provides grim reading….

  • 49% of responding museums experienced a cut to their overall income
  • 23% of respondents saw their overall income decrease by more than 10%
  • 37% of respondents cut staff
  • 21% of respondents cut staff numbers by over 10%
  • 47% of responding museums increased the numbers of volunteers and interns
  • 23% of respondents reduced the number of temporary exhibitions
  • School visits decreased at 31% of respondents
  • 28% of respondents reduced the free events on offer

On volunteers, sure enough the numbers of volunteers and interns increased but Mark Taylor, director of the Museums Association, highlighted the crucial reality that “they can never replace skilled, experienced staff”.

On philanthropy, contrary to government plans for an increase, only 28% of museums that took part saw a rise in income from individual giving – with 17% actually experiencing a fall. “The potential for increased philanthropy appears limited in many parts of the UK and for many museum subject areas,” said Mr Taylor. “Philanthropic efforts will never substitute for the loss of public funding.”

Thus it seems the word from the sharp end, devoid of spin, is that in the museum sector the whole basis on which The Big Society was floated has simply failed to come about. Undismayed, the DCMS commented “blah de blah de blah”….

Compiled by Sue Brooke.

KENT:

Dover Museum and Bronze Age Boat Gallery

‘In September 1992, archaeologists from the Canterbury Archaeological Trust working alongside contractors on a new road link between Dover and Folkestone discovered the remains of a large wooden prehistoric boat thought to be some 3,000 years old, belonging to a period known to archaeologists as the Bronze Age. It was a find of both national and international significance which will shed new light on early seafaring and woodworking skills in Northern Europe. The boat is now displayed in a glass case as the centrepiece of a whole floor in the museum devoted to archaeology.’

DoverBoat2

Public lectures are being held as part of the ‘Beyond the Horizon’ exhibition in the museum. They are free, open to all, and there is no need to book.

VENUE: all will be held at 7pm in the Theatre, Dover Discovery Centre, Dover, Kent, CT16 1PB except the lecture on 1st November, which will be held in Canterbury.

LECTURES:

DATE: 8th October 2013

TITLE: What about the Bronze Age in Flanders? An overview of convergences and divergences with England and Northern France

Jean Bourgeois, University of Ghent, Belgium

DATE: 1st November 2013

TITLE: Throwaway bronze? The curious practice of Bronze Age ‘hoards’

Canterbury Christ Church University, Canterbury (exact venue to be confirmed)

Anne Lehoerff, University of Lille 3, France

DATE: 12th December 2013

TITLE: Transmanche prehistory from the air

Paul Bennett

See the Dover Museum website for full details.

DEVON:

Plymouth and District Archaeological Society

 LECTURE: 1st October 2012

 TITLE: New Light on West Devon in the Early Middle Ages – Professor. Andrew Fleming.

 Andrew Fleming is a landscape archaeologist and landscape historian, who was taught at the universities of Sheffield and Wales (Lampeter). His recent interest has focused on the early medieval landscape of West Devon and the western borders of Dartmoor. His study of long-distance routes helps to understand how elites exercised control and how transhumanant livestock-herders moved through the landscape. His discovery of a high status enclosure at Walkhampton and its relationship to the early road network sheds new light on pre-Conquest history

Winter lectures are held on Monday evenings at 7:00 pm in the Devonport Lecture Theatre of the Portland Square Building, Plymouth University. Non-members are welcome to attend all lectures but are asked to contribute £4 towards our expenses. No need to book, just turn up.

CORNWALL:

Cornish Ancient Sites Protection Network

‘A charitable partnership formed to look after the ancient sites and monuments of Cornwall. Currently working closely with local communities and official organisations to protect and promote our ancient heritage landscape through research, education and outreach activities’.

Volunteers are always very welcome at the monthly clear-ups. These events are always a really good opportunity to get a bit more hands-on, whilst helping to clear an ancient site in the landscape. This not only allows for physical preservation of the site itself but helps it to be kept safe for others to enjoy in the future

OCTOBER CLEAN UP:

DATE: Tuesday October 15th 11am

VENUE: Carminowe Mill (SW6590 2440). Meet at Little Nanspean – on minor road from A3083 to Gunwalloe Cove.

*Please note that suitable footwear and clothing is needed although tools or any necessary equipment will be provided*

LONDON:

Royal Archaeological Institution:

The Royal Archaeological Institute (RAI) is a leading national archaeology society, with a history dating back to 1844. Its interests span all aspects of the archaeological, architectural and landscape history of the British Isles. Monthly Lectures take place from October to May and are held at Burlington House, Piccadilly, London. These are given by visiting speakers on recent research, current archaeological projects and new discoveries.

DATE: 11th to 13th October 2013.

RAI 2013 Conference – The Impact of Rome on the British Countryside.

Held in partnership with the University of Chester, the focus will be on ‘The impact of Rome on the British Countryside’, at the Riverside Innovation Centre (Riverside Campus).

The keynote speaker is Professor Nico Roymans (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam).

There will be a guided visit to various sites in North Wales on Monday, the 14th, led by Fiona Gale (Denbighshire County Archaeologist

BUCKINGHAMSHIRE:

Archaeology in Marlow’s (AIM) aim is to investigate and discover the archaeology and pre-history of Marlow Town and its surrounding parishes. The Warren Wood site comprises a double enclosure earthwork believed to be medieval in date but Neolithic artefacts and Iron Age pottery have also been found.

AIM would like to involve as many people as possible in practical archaeology and research and also to entertain them with talks on general and local subjects. Lists of activities to date are shown on the website pages covering projects and past events. Everyone is welcome to join and members enjoy research, fieldwork, training courses, talks and visits.

EVENT: Further investigations at Warren Wood, Little Marlow, Bucks:

DATE AND TIME: 13th Oct 2013 – 10:00

DATE AND TIME: 27th October 2013 – 10:00

COST: Free to members/£2 non-members

Numbers have to be limited, so please book your place in advance by emailing John Laker on johnlaker@thamesinternet.com or telephone him on 01628 481792.

SCOTLAND:

ROSS-SHIRE:

Groam House Museum. High Street, Rosemarkie, Ross-shire, Scotland IV10 8UF

An outstanding centre for Pictish and Celtic Art in Ross-shire. This unique display is focused on 15 carved Pictish stones which all originated in the village described as an important centre of early Christianity.

Museum opening times: From 29 March to 31 October 2013:

  • Monday to Friday, 11am – 4.30pm
  • Saturday, 2 pm – 4.30pm

Please note – space within the museum is limited so it is suggested that groups of over 12 people could contact the museum to arrange their visit. The museum can be visited via public transport using the Stagecoach 26A bus service from Inverness Bus Station.

WALES:

The Carmarthenshire Antiquarian Society

The Carmarthenshire Antiquarian Society was founded in 1905 and is one of the foremost County antiquarian societies in Wales. From its inception the founding members saw a need to record, publish and collect all things relating to the history, antiquities and natural history of ‘Carmarthenshire in particular, and West Wales in general’.

EVENT: Field Day Talgarth, Trefecca and Llanelieu

DATE AND TIME: – Saturday, 12 October, 11.00am

 We are now compiling diary dates for November and December. If there’s an event you’d like included, please Contact Us with the details.

Compiled by Sue Brooke.

LONDON: The British Museum, Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3DG

Life and death, Pompeii and Herculaneum.

28 March – 29 September 2013 . Advanced booking essential

http://www.britishmuseum.org/whats_on/exhibitions/pompeii_and_herculaneum.aspx

DURHAM:

English Heritage Event: Lindisfarne Gospels

Inscribed in Stone Exhibition: Date: From 1st May 2013 to 30th September 2013. Lindisfarne Priory from 10am to 6pm

Lindisfarne Priory is introducing a new display looking at the importance of the priory and its inhabitants around the time of the production of the gospels. The display will celebrate the loan of the famous Lindisfarne Gospels to the North East. By displaying intricately carved original and colourful replica ‘naming stones’, some dating back to the 8th century, the display will answer many questions for visitors who will be making the journey to the original and spiritual home of the sacred text.

http://www.lindisfarnegospels.com/

EXETER: Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery, Exeter, Devon EX4 3RX

25TH September 2013. Lunchtime lecture – An introduction to Dartmoor National Park. Orlando Rutter, Senior Learning & Outreach Officer at Dartmoor National Park.

To explore some of the natural and human influences that have shaped the landscape of the National Park at Dartmoor. This lecture will also look at some of the work of Dartmoor National Park Authority.

http://www.rammuseum.org.uk/whats-on/lunchtime-lecture-an-introduction-to-dartmoor-national-park

DEVON:

Devon Archaeological Society – Members event

The Devon Archaeological Society, founded in 1928, is an active and friendly organisation with a membership of over 800. The archaeology of Devon is without equal in England: it includes the rich historic landscapes of Dartmoor and Exmoor and extends in time from the Palaeolithic axes of the East Devon river valleys to industrial remains from the extraction of tin and other minerals.

Sunday 1st September 2013 – Ham Hill Hillfort – Niall Sharples is currently excavating one of the largest hillforts in Southern Britain, at Ham Hill, Stoke sub Hamdon in Somerset. (ST 485 165) The site has produced a wide range of prehistoric and Roman finds when Ham Hill stone was quarried but only small scale excavation work has previously taken place. It’s siting and ramparts are clearly visible on the south side of the A303. Niall has kindly extended an invitation to visit to members of the DAS. Note that this is not a formal Society activity and will not be covered by DAS insurance: members should come prepared for visiting a site with an uneven surface and with footwear/clothing suitable for all eventualities. The site tour will last until lunchtime. Please check:

http://devonarchaeologicalsociety.org.uk/das/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=186:01-sep-2013&catid=3:diary&Itemid=1

PLYMOUTH:

TOUR OF CROWNHILL FORT

Plymouth & District Archaeological Society (PDAS) consists mainly of amateur members with an enthusiastic interest in a wide range of archaeological disciplines. Visitors are invited to attend any of our regular meetings

Monday 2nd September 2013 – Crownhill Fort, one of the “Palmerston Forts” built in the 19th century to defend Plymouth against the threat of French invasion, is now operated by the Landmark Trust. Ed Donohue, Manager of the Fort, or one of his colleagues, will lead a private tour taking in the ramparts, tunnels and casemates. The tour is not suitable for anyone with walking difficulties; sturdy shoes are advised. If the weather is kind there will be a cannon firing at the end of the tour. Meet in the lower car park outside the Fort at 6.15 for a 6.30pm start, SX 487 591, PL6 5BX. Cost of £3/head to meet Landmark Trust charges, to be collected on the day

http://www.plymarchsoc.org.uk/index.html

CORNWALL:

Cornish Ancient Sites Protection Network

‘A charitable partnership formed to look after the ancient sites and monuments of Cornwall. Currently working closely with local communities and official organisations to protect and promote our ancient heritage landscape through research, education and outreach activities’.

Volunteers are always very welcome at the monthly clear-ups. These events are always a really good opportunity to get a bit more hands-on, whilst helping to clear an ancient site in the landscape. This not only allows for physical preservation of the site itself but helps it to be kept safe for others to enjoy in the future

SEPTEMBER CLEAN-UP – The next clean-up will be held on Tuesday September 10th 2013 at 12.00 midday. Chynhalls Point cliff castle (SW785 175]) Park near Coverack School, to be collected.

*Please note that suitable footwear and clothing is needed although tools or any necessary equipment will be provided*

http://www.cornishancientsites.com/lan.html

YORKSHIRE:

Ingleborough Archaeology Group (IAG) is based in Ingleton in the Yorkshire Dales and has as its core area of operations the Ingleborough massif and the surrounding valleys of Kingsdale, Chapel le Dale and Ribblesdale. The Group was founded in 1996 under the direction of Alan King, one of the most active archaeologists in the Yorkshire Dales. It has been described as one of the most active and successful local archaeology groups in the North of England and has been involved in a broad range of excavations, ranging from a nineteenth-century industrial building within the Ribblehead Construction Camps through to a Romano-British settlement near Ingleton to a Mesolithic site at Kingsdale Head.

Last summer walk – Saturday 21st September 2013 – Baildon Moor:

‘8000 years of landscape change with Gavin Edwards’

Meet 10.30am Baildon Top Car Park (SE1428 4069) or Ashfield Car Park – Settle 9.15am or Community Centre Car Park – Ingleton 9.00am for car sharing. Approx 4-5miles – moderate – mainly on paths and open fell. Please bring packed lunch. No dogs please.

http://www.ingleborougharchaeologygroup.org.uk/

LANCASHIRE:

Lancashire Archaeological Society – encouraging and promoting interest in archaeology and history, particularly of the County Palatine of Lancashire.

1st September 2013 – Visit to the landscape of Smithills Hall Estate, Bolton. Dr Alan Crosby.

Please see http://www.lancsarchsoc.org.uk/ for more information.

PETERBOROUGH: Flag Fen

In the early 1980s, English Heritage funded a series of small dyke surveys in the Peterborough region. It was during this survey that Flag Fen was discovered, home to a Bronze Age monument over 3300 years old.

Flag Fen is open daily from 10am-5pm (last entry at 4pm) from April to October and is a marvellous opportunity to see the reconstructions and the experimental archaeology.

http://www.vivacity-peterborough.com/museums-and-heritage/flag-fen/discovery/

NOTTINGHAMSHIRE/DERBYSHIRE:

MBArchaeology specialises in Community Archaeology, Education & Research. Based in Nottinghamshire / Derbyshire and offering educational talks, walks, workshops and courses on a whole variety of archaeological topics.

Derbyshire – full-day field visits that run throughout the summer to sites of historical and archaeological interest. Keep checking for events.

http://www.mbarchaeology.co.uk/upcoming-events/

BUCKINGHAMSHIRE:

Archaeology in Marlow’s (AIM) aim is to investigate and discover the archaeology and pre-history of Marlow Town and its surrounding parishes. The Warren Wood site comprises a double enclosure earthwork believed to be medieval in date but neolithic artefacts and Iron Age pottery have also been found.

AIM would like to involve as many people as possible in practical archaeology and research and also to entertain them with talks on general and local subjects. Lists of activities to date are shown on the website pages covering projects and past events. Everyone is welcome to join and members enjoy research, fieldwork, training courses, talks and visits.

Event: Investigations at Warren Wood, Little Marlow, Bucks:

Dates and times: 1st September 2013 – 10:00

15th September 2013 – 10:00

29th. September 2013 – 10:00

For more information: http://www.archaeologyinmarlow.org.uk/

SCOTLAND:

ROSS-SHIRE:

Groam House Museum. High Street, Rosemarkie, Ross-shire, Scotland IV10 8UF

An outstanding centre for Pictish and Celtic Art in Ross-shire. This unique display is focused on 15 carved Pictish stones which all originated in the village described as an important centre of early Christianity.

TALK: 5th September 2013 : The Nigg Old Trust Project, the re-display of the Nigg Cross-Slab and the Poor Loft. Dr Isabel Henderson, Caroline Vawdrey and David Alston

Museum opening times: From 29 March to 31 October 2013:

• Monday to Friday, 11am – 4.30pm

• Saturday, 2 pm – 4.30pm

Please note – space within the museum is limited so it is suggested that groups of over 12 people could contact the museum to arrange the visit

The museum can be visited via public transport using the Stagecoach 26A bus service from Inverness Bus Station.

http://www.groamhouse.org.uk/index.asp

GALLOWAY:

The Newbarns Project – From 1st – 30th September 2013

Archaeological excavation of three prehistoric kerb cairns containing numerous cremation burials and deposits from the Early Bronze Age through to the Iron Age, also one Neolithic Passage grave on two of the cairns. With evidence of sporadic occupation, from prehistory through the Iron Age (Roman). Anglian and Medieval settlement evidence.

Open from 10:00 to 17:00 hours daily except Sunday.

Tours available: No charge but contributions towards running costs are welcome.

Finds on display.

Amateur diggers are welcome – 1 day or 1 month – with tools supplied. Please wear sensible clothing especially boots, as the cairns are in a bog. All welcome – children must be accompanied by a responsible adult if under 16. The site is off the A710 Colvend to Sandyhills Road MR Nx8812 5505.

All enquiries to – Tel: 01556 680478 or e-mail e.penman2012@btinternet.com

Check out http://www.sat.org.uk for further details.

NORTHERN IRELAND: North Down Museum – Town Hall, The Castle, Bangor, BT20 4BT, United Kingdom

The story of the North Down area, from the Bronze Age to the present day.

Museum opening times:

• Tuesday – Saturday: 10.00am – 4.30pm

• Sunday: 12.00pm – 4.30pm

(Closed on Mondays, except July and August and Bank Holidays)

Accessible for people with disabilities. Admission is free.

http://www.northdownmuseum.com/

WALES:

National Museum of Wales

Cathays Park, Cardiff CF10 3NP

A static exhibition in The Archaeology Gallery – Origins: In Search of Early Wales.

This traces life in Wales from the earliest humans 230,000 years ago. Who were our ancestors, and how different were they from us? What has changed and what has caused these changes? A stunning and thought provoking exhibition where you get the chance to see things really close up.

Visit the Origins – In Search of Early Wales webpages http://www.museumwales.ac.uk/en/whatson/?event_id=2854

The Carmarthenshire Antiquarian Society

The Carmarthenshire Antiquarian Society was founded in 1905 and is one of the foremost County antiquarian societies in Wales. From its inception the founding members saw a need to record, publish and collect all things relating to the history, antiquities and natural history of ‘Carmarthenshire in particular, and West Wales in general’.

Monday, 9 September – 13 Friday, September – Field Excursion: Warwickshire

http://www.carmants.org.uk/meetings.html

Wrexham County Borough Museum

Regent Street, Wrexham, LL11 1RB

Inside one of Wrexham’s landmark buildings, Wrexham County Borough Museum is the starting point for discovering the eventful history of this region on the English-Welsh border.

The museum’s displays and collections tell the stories of Wrexham County Borough and its people from prehistory up to the present day.

DUE TO RUN THROUGH SEPTEMBER – The Mold Cape – a unique ceremonial cape of gold, made during the Early Bronze Age, around 3,700 years ago. Probably one of the finest pieces of Bronze Age craftsmanship and gold-working technique in Europe, made with great skill from a single sheet of thin gold. It is unique in design with the embossed shapes copying strings of beads. Normally a highlight exhibit at the British Museum, the Mold Cape is on display at Wrexham Museum from 7th. August 2013.

Opening Times: Monday – Friday: 10.00am – 5.00pm

Saturday: 10.30am – 3.00pm

Closed Bank Holidays and Sundays

http://www.wrexham.gov.uk/english/heritage/wrexham_museum.htm

National Roman Legion Museum. Town Centre, Caerleon, Gwent.

Almost 2,000 years ago, the Roman Empire dominated the civilised world. Wales was its furthest outpost and, in AD 75, a fortress was founded at Caerleon that would guard the region for over 200 years. The National Roman Legion Museum displays a remarkable collection of finds from Roman Caerleon, the base of the second Augustan Legion.

FREE ENTRY

Location: Follow the ‘brown helmet’ signs from the M4 (westbound junction 25, eastbound junction 26). For satellite navigation purposes use the post code NP18 1AE (recorded as ‘High Street’).

More information: http://www.museumwales.ac.uk/en/caerleon/visit/

Compiled by Sue Brooke

SURREY:

Epsom and Ewell History and Archaeology Society – is the local history, archaeology and conservation society for the Epsom and Ewell area of Surrey. Its aims are to encourage interest in the archaeology and history of the area, working to ensure the preservation of local buildings and other objects of historical significance.

Illustrated talks on archaeological and historical subjects. The Society meets on the first Wednesday of each month: St. Mary’s Church Hall, London Road, Ewell – meetings begin at 8.00pm

http://www.epsomewellhistory.org.uk/

DURHAM:

English Heritage Event: Lindisfarne Gospels: Inscribed in Stone Exhibition: Date: From 1st May 2013 to 30th September 2013. Lindisfarne Priory from 10am to 6pm

Lindisfarne Priory is introducing a new display looking at the importance of the priory and its inhabitants around the time of the production of the gospels. The display will celebrate the loan of the famous Lindisfarne Gospels to the North East. By displaying intricately carved original and colourful replica ‘naming stones’, some dating back to the 8th century, the display will answer many questions for visitors who will be making the journey to the original and spiritual home of the sacred text.

http://www.lindisfarnegospels.com/

COUNTY DURHAM:

The Bowes Museum: What is Archaeology?

Thursday 1st August 2013. Explore how Archaeologists unearth the past with Marc from Archaeosoup, and get the chance to handle and analyse artefacts.

Children must be accompanied by an adult, for whom normal admission applies. Booking required. See website for further details.

The Museum is in the market town of Barnard Castle, County Durham situated in the heart of the Pennines in North East England.

CORNWALL:

Cornish Ancient Sites Protection Network

‘A charitable partnership formed to look after the ancient sites and monuments of Cornwall. Currently working closely with local communities and official organisations to protect and promote our ancient heritage landscape through research, education and outreach activities’.

Volunteers are always very welcome at the monthly clear-ups. These events are always a really good opportunity to get a bit more hands-on, whilst helping to clear an ancient site in the landscape. This not only allows for physical preservation of the site itself but helps it to be kept safe for others to enjoy in the future

AUGUST CLEAN-UP – The next clean-up will be held on Tuesday August 13th 2013 at 12.00 midday ‘Three Brothers of Grugwith monument’ (SW7616 1978) Participants are asked to meet at the lay-by just past the Zoar Garage, on the B3293.

*Please note that suitable footwear and clothing is needed although tools or any necessary equipment will be provided*

http://www.cornishancientsites.com/lan.html

 PETERBOROUGH:

Flag Fen

In the early 1980s, English Heritage funded a series of small dyke surveys in the Peterborough region. It was during this survey that Flag Fen was discovered, home to a Bronze Age monument over 3300 years old.

Flag Fen is open daily from 10am-5pm (last entry at 4pm) from April to October and is a marvellous opportunity to see the reconstructions and the experimental archaeology.

http://www.vivacity-peterborough.com/museums-and-heritage/flag-fen/discovery/

NOTTINGHAMSHIRE/DERBYSHIRE:

MBArchaeology specialises in Community Archaeology, Education & Research. Based in Nottinghamshire / Derbyshire and offering educational talks, walks, workshops and courses on a whole variety of archaeological topics.

Derbyshire – full-day field visits that run throughout the summer to sites of historical and archaeological interest. Keep checking for events.

http://www.mbarchaeology.co.uk/upcoming-events/

PORTLAND – DORSET:

The Portland Archaeology Group was set up by archaeologist Susann Palmer to research and excavate the archaeology of this rather special part of Dorset. We are a small group based on the Isle of Portland in Dorset who are passionate about the Isle’s rich heritage . The main excavation site which the group first started on in 1967 was a Middle Stone Age site known as Culverwell (from the nearby natural spring Culver Well). The excavations took place over some 30 years, made possible by the purchase of the site by Susann and a dedicated team working their summer holidays on this beautiful southern tip of Portland. The preservation of part of this important site has made it possible to view the hearths, living and working areas. This can be seen from a wheelchair accessible walkway.

The Culverwell site is about 8500 years old and is known worldwide for being the first, (at the time of discovery), for showing that Mesolithic man was not a wandering hunter / gatherer but actually spent some considerable time in this location, evidenced by shell midden material accumulated over approx 25 – 30 years and analysis showed that the materials was gathered in all seasons of the year. It was also important for the hard evidence of a living area and hearths and a storage or cooking pit. It is also the first known use of the famous Portland stone as building material.

August 4th 2013 2 – 4pm – Culverwell open day with guided tour and hut reconstruction utilising materials that were available at the time. Free admission

August 26th 2013 2 – 4pm – Culverwell open day with guided tour and hut reconstruction utilising materials that were available at the time. Free admission

Parking at Culverwell is free for duration of visit and the site is located on Portland Bill Road south of the village of Southwell and mid-way between the village and Portland Bill. For open day visits in poor weather conditions please check web site or call 01305 783701 or 01305 861576 before travelling to the site as site can get waterlogged

http://www.portlandarchaeology.weebly.com

SCOTLAND

Groam House Museum – An outstanding centre for Pictish and Celtic Art in Ross-shire. This unique display is focused on 15 carved Pictish stones which all originated in the village described as an important centre of early Christianity.

TALK: 15 August 2013 – Groam House Museum in the Digital Age – Chris Moule, Green Envelope Media

Museum opening times: From 29 March to 31 October 2013:

  • Mon-Fri, 11am – 4.30pm
  • Saturday, 2 – 4.30pm

Please note:- space within the museum is limited so it is suggested that groups of over 12 people should contact the museum to arrange a visit. The museum can be visited via public transport using the Stagecoach 26A bus service from Inverness Bus Station. http://www.groamhouse.org.uk/index.asp

NORTHERN IRELAND

North Down Museum – The story of the North Down area, from the Bronze Age to the present day.

Exhibition: Putting Bangor on the Map

North Down Museum has the only complete Folio of Plantation Maps in Ireland, the Raven Maps. These have been digitised and you can see the digitised maps with their additional content and the originals in the Plantation Room.

Town Hall, The Castle, Bangor, BT20 4BT, United Kingdom

Museum opening times:

  • Tuesday – Saturday: 10.00am – 4.30pm
  • Sunday: 12.00pm – 4.30pm
  • (Closed on Mondays, except July and August and Bank Holidays)

Accessible for people with disabilities. Admission is free.

http://www.northdownmuseum.com/

WALES:

National Museum of Wales

Cathays Park, Cardiff CF10 3NP

A static exhibition in The Archaeology Gallery – Origins: In Search of Early Wales. This traces life in Wales from the earliest humans 230,000 years ago. Who were our ancestors, and how different were they from us? What has changed and what has caused these changes? A stunning and thought provoking exhibition where you get the chance to see things really close up.

Visit the Origins – In Search of Early Wales webpages

ALSO:

DISPLAY: The Mold Cape.

The Mold Cape is a unique ceremonial cape of gold, made during the Early Bronze Age, around 3,700 years ago. Probably one of the finest pieces of Bronze Age craftsmanship and gold-working technique in Europe, made with great skill from a single sheet of thin gold. It is unique in design with the embossed shapes copying strings of beads.

Normally a highlight exhibit at the British Museum, the Mold Cape is on display at the National Museum Cardiff, before opening at Wrexham County Borough Museum on 7th August 2013.

http://www.museumwales.ac.uk/en/whatson/?event_id=6735

A personal view by Alan S.

Whilst I’m aware that the British Museum is about much more than what the public see, I have to say that although the floor staff were very helpful, friendly and accommodating (I was pushing a wheelchair user) and are a credit to the institution, my recent visit to the BM was nevertheless very disappointing.

I fondly recall many educational visits there as a child, but it seems the whole purpose of the place has changed significantly. Granted, entry is still free, but at every turn the visitor is bombarded with requests for money: Suggested donation £5, Become a Member £50, Buy a sandwich £4, Buy a colour map £2, Buy a guide book (various prices), Buy a postcard (£1.20?!!) and many more souvenirs. It would have been very easy to have emptied my wallet before I’d even seen an exhibit!

And the types of exhibit have changed too. No more the interpretive panels explaining about an artefact on display, now all details of selected exhibits are available via ‘multi-media guides’ (only £5) – only minimal information is available at the point of display for most items. And the information given has also changed in a very noticable way. Information is largely restricted (on the majority of the exhibits I examined) to a short description; ‘flint blade’, ‘bronze sword’ etc followed by the source of the object and how it was aquired. And whilst the objects which have been in the museum for a considerable time were invariably uncovered during an archaeological dig and donated by a named finder, many of those in the last 30-40 years have been ‘discovered by a metal detectorist’ – often unnamed – and ‘purchased with the help of the Heritage Lottery Fund’ or similar grants.

The contrast in the lack of information on show, compared with my recent trip to the Museum of the Iron Age in Andover where a full story was told, was simply staggering.

Whilst I’m sure that there is an element of education remaining (preserved for organised school tours in the Clore Education Centre perhaps?), I have to wonder exactly what it is that’s being taught. I certainly came away with the impression that Greed is Good, and the bad old days of Empire and Colonialism are still with us – the vast majority of the older displays having been brought to Britain from overseas. The ‘British’ Museum?

But the place was packed with tourists and guided tours and the donation boxes were stuffed with money, so maybe the old saying that money attracts money is true? Bling certainly (and sadly) seems to be popular, but I can’t help but think we’re losing something in the process. Visitors willingly in many cases being prepared to part with their money, but for what? It seems to me all we’re doing is encouraging further rape of the archaeological resource by offering ever increasing amounts of money for dug up treasures.

Howard Carter’s “Wonderful Things..” indeed!

It’s always sad when for whatever reason a museum has to close its doors to the public. However, as with all things, there are right ways to do things, and wrong ways.

The Lackham Agricultural and Countryside Museum, in Wiltshire, was closed in 2009 due to lack of funds. Since that time, an extensive collection of over 4000 objects has been ‘mothballed’, but now the museum is taking the step of trying to trace the original owners who donated the various items in order to offer the items back. The full story is on the BBC website and is an example of trying to ‘do the right thing’.

Less satisfactory is Stamford Museum in Lincolnshire. It was closed in 2011 and while some of the exhibits were relocated to the Discover Stamford area at the town’s Library the rest are in storage and available only by prior arrangement. Stamford was the home of the famous antiquarian Dr William Stukeley and there are many objects associated with him that ought to be on display – including his framed sketches of the druidic temple he constructed in his garden nearby.

Worst of all, let’s look at the Church Farmhouse Museum, in Hendon North London. The London Borough of Barnet, the owners of the Museum, closed it on 31 March 2011 as part of their austerity measures and made the staff redundant. There were stories at the time of parts of the collection being disposed of in a skip. Some items have been offered to other museums outside of the borough.

Church Farmhouse Museum, Hendon

The only other museum in the borough, Barnet Museum, is itself under threat having had its funding withdrawn, and is only still open as the council cannot prove ownership of the building which houses it. It now transpires that, not being satisfied with trying to sell off the listed property for development, (PDF link) the council are looking to auction off the remaining items from the collection in October.

Bosses at Barnet Museum, in Wood Street, Barnet, have accused the council of betraying people’s trust by selling off hundreds of items donated to the museum by local residents.

Barnet Museum archivist Dr Gillian Gear said she was “disappointed” that she had not been given the opportunity to claim more items from the axed museum before they were sent away for auction.

“We have collected our own stuff and a very limited number of domestic items,” she told the local press. “But I was advised by the council that everything else was spoken for and found a good home. I didn’t realise it was going to be sold off and not remain in Barnet. I’m very disappointed. It is a bad sign if people cannot trust a local council.”

A petition has been hastily organised on the local council website, objecting to the auction. Notable signatories include several Labour Councillors as well as several members of RESCUE, the British Archaeological Trust. We would urge all who feel the auction is morally wrong to sign as soon as possible.

“Here in Barnet artefacts and records tracing the history and heritage of our borough used to be available to view in two museums. That was until the current council administration closed Church Farm House Museum as part of the ‘One Barnet’ programme. Many people will be surprised and shocked at the vast collection of artefacts from this Museum that the council is now disposing of by auction.

Some may have a substantial monetary value and others not, but how we value our history and heritage for the benefit of future generations has clearly reached rock bottom. Respecting our heritage, preserving it for future generations, and appreciating our past should be common sense and the duty of those we elect to be the custodians of our history. It will be a very sad day when all these items are sold or disposed of.”

We ask that the council advertise by public notice for donors to reclaim any items they donated to the Museum and that any remining items are either offered to Barnet Museum or are re-housed for viewing or for archive in Barnets Libraries so that generations to come can enjoy and learn from them.

You can sign the Petition here

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Archaeologist goes deaf!
An archeologist was declared clinically deaf the other day after giving a speech in which he rejoiced that the Ashmoleon Museum had raised the necessary £7.83 million to save Manet’s Portrait of Mademoiselle Claus for the nation. Culture Minister Ed Vaizey had placed a temporary export ban on it and made it available to be bought by a British public institution for just 27% of its market value of £28.4 million.

The archaeologist was halfway through saying it might be a good idea to reduce Treasure rewards by the same amount when he was knocked off his feet by a mighty shout of “NO!” from almost eight thousand heroic artefact hunters.

“Sorry, no can do” Mr Vaizey later shouted down the poor chap’s ear trumpet. “We’d love to, but we have to settle for policy inconsistency when it comes to national treasures. It’s horses for courses, see? There’s heroics, and then there’s hero-oiks. Get it?”

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QR at the BM
We’ve featured the idea of iBeaken QR codes in the past, so kudos to the British Museum who are using the codes to run youth workshops in their Anglo Saxon gallery gallery.

Groups of young people, guided by Digital Learning Programmes Manager Shelley Mannion, whirl through the exhibit with Samsung phones, scanning iB codes in order to fulfill a variety of challenges. Shelley creates iBeakens in the morning, prints out the codes and runs her sessions the same afternoon. It’s that easy and fast!

How long now before we see these more widely used in the UK?

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National Trust to allow “intellectual baboons” to retain a toe-hold!
There has been an unholy row over the National Trust having given in to pressure to mention creationism in the same breath as science when presenting its exhibition on the formation of the Giants Causeway. (Richard Dawkins said they shouldn’t have given “any consideration whatsoever to the intellectual baboons of young Earth creationism”!)

Under massive public pressure the Trust said it would review its presentation. Its taking an age and confidence it will do what is needed isnt high. Professor Brian Cox has neatly signalled how they should approached the issue: “I don’t mind creation stories presented as mythology, but to suggest there is any debate that Earth is 4.54 billion years old is nonsense”. Yet its hard to see how the Trust can go back on their claim that the Giant’s Causeway has been and still is a focal point in the debate about the age of the earth. Their Project Director has even “refused to classify creationists in the category of those who believe in Finn MacCool mythology

So its official, for everyone, forever (unless they say they were entirely wrong), The National Trust believes there’s a DEBATE about whether the earth is 6,000 years old, just like there’s a debate about the existence of fairies. And the idea of the Earth being created in seven days isn’t to be categorised as mythology and isn’t to be put in the same category as “myths” about giants!

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For more Cheers and Boos put Cheers in the search box.

Moral Maze
Detectorists are getting upset about contaminated green waste being spread on fields. Quite rightly, if it’s a danger to food (although their interest is also to do with the fact it makes detecting impossible!). It seems they’ve got themselves into a moral muddle though. They’re putting in a Freedom of Information request to find which farms have taken the worst waste but on the other hand they’re all desperate not to specify any such farms they know about in case the farmer withdraws their permission to detect! What to do? Tell the authorities they’ve seen a threat to public health or keep quiet so they can carry on artefact hunting? Don’t hold your breath waiting to see which.

They do sometimes say hilarious stuff though….. “On the way home tonight spotted fields next to A303 in Amesbury getting the stuff delivered. If not stopped our hobby is doomed….”  Next to the A303 in Amesbury eh? So that’ll be in the Stonehenge World Heritage site or right next to it then. Perfect detecting territory then…..

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Museum vandalism
Apparently, mindless vandals have smashed up the garden of Wiltshire’s Richard Jefferies museum. You might wonder why. Ironically, Jefferies himself gave an explanation long ago that seems to fit nowadays:

“Never was the distinction so sharp between the poor—the sullen poor who stand scornful and desperate at the street corners—and the well-to-do ….. It is not confined to the millionaire….. Those who only see the drawing-room side of society, those who move, too, in the well-oiled atmosphere of commercial offices, are quite ignorant of the savage animosity which watches them to and fro the office or the drawing-room from the street corner….. How easy it is to point to the sobriety and the good sense of the working class and smile in assumed complacency! What have the sober mass of the working class to do with it? No more than you or I, or the Rothschilds, or dukes of blood royal. There the thing is, and it requires no great sagacity to see that the present mode of dealing with it is a failure and likely to be worse. If you have gunpowder, you should not put it under hydraulic pressure. You should not stir it up and hold matches to it to see if it is there.”

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Big AND clever!
Jug juggling! See here.

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[For more Cheers & Boos, type Cheers in the search box]

 

As previously reported, a project is underway at the National Maritime Museum in Falmouth, Cornwall, to reconstruct a Bronze Age log boat. The remains of three Bronze Age ships were discovered at North Ferriby on the Humber foreshore between 1937 and 1963, and design of these are being used to devise the current boat, which could be as much as 50+ feet long when completed.

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The construction, which is still in it’s early stages, can be viewed by visitors to the museum. Currently, two large (3 ton) English Oak trunks are being sculpted, using nothing more than bronze axes, to form the keel of the boat. Sculpted, because the design requires various ‘blocks’ to remain attached within the body of the boat.

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The block of wood on which they’re standing above, will be only 4 inches thick when completed Once the keel’s two halves are completed, a further large tree (8 tons of wood!) will be used to form the planking for the sides of the boat. The whole will be secured with flexible yew stems, and caulked with other vegetation.

Of the 14 tons total of wood, it is estimated that around 9 tons will be waste – though in the Bronze Age such a term would not be used. The chippings and off cuts would be used as fuel for fires, and possibly for insulation or packing.

As part of the exhibition about Bronze Age seafarers, the master copy of the Nebra Disk is also on show, the connection being that it is thought that panned gold, from Carnon Downs near to Falmouth, was used in it’s construction along with Cornish Tin.

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The exhibit, which through until September, is well worth a visit, if only to provide some encouragement to the volunteers doing all the hard labour!

The scale and pace of destruction today is so great that the need to recover and record archaeological information is more urgent than ever before. Unless we act now our archaeological past will never be understood. RESCUE,  the British Archaeological Trust, is a registered charity and an independent organisation committed to the protection, conservation, recording and interpretation of archaeological evidence – often the only evidence – of ALL our pasts.

One of the ways in which RESCUE campaigns to save this heritage is to assist those who wish to protest against funding cuts. With an unprecedented level of threat to local authority museum and archaeological services currently being felt up and down the country, there has never been a greater need for clear guidelines, assisting those campaigning to protect and preserve local and regional heritage services.

It is with this in mind that RESCUE have published Fighting Back – a document that provides some suggestions as to how to campaign to save museums, archaeological services and the historic environment. It includes lists of contacts, template letters and other information vital to everyone wishing to register their objections to local authority and government cuts which affect our heritage. RESCUE asks people to feel free to download and use the guidelines, and distribute them further to those who require it:  Fighting Back Notes on Campaigning against cuts to heritage

Heritage Action is proud to hold Affiliated Society membership status of RESCUE. If you’ve not already joined RESCUE,  we can only ask ‘why not’?

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