Festival of Archaeology at the Dorset County Museum

Festival of Archaeology 2017From 15 to 30 July 2017, The 27th Festival of Archaeology, coordinated yearly by the Council for British Archaeology, showcases the very best of British archaeology by presenting special events hosted by museums, heritage organisations, universities, societies and community archaeologists all over the UK.

As their contribution to this year’s festival, Dorset County Museum will host a variety of events including a rare opportunity to tour the Museum’s archaeology store too seeing archaeology in action with the cleaning and the analysis of the skeleton of the Whitcombe Warrior.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for people to see a whole range of archaeological artefacts that aren’t normally on display, “said Jon Murden, Director of Dorset County Museum.  “In the past these tours completely sold out as so many people were interested in coming along – we hope it will be even more popular this year.“

Visitors to the museum can also see the Ancient Dorset gallery which tells the fascinating story of the past of the ancient peoples living in this county, from the Lower Palaeolithic Age three million years ago to 1066AD. Including a display of the discovered mass Viking burial discovered on the Ridgeway outside Weymouth.

Dorset County Museum has seven events taking place over the two weeks of the Festival:

  • Monday 17 JulyGuided Tours of the Ancient Dorset Gallery (normal admission prices apply).  Tours will start at 11.00am and 2.30pm – no need to book.

 

  • Tuesady 18 July – Store Tours of All Saints Church This is where thousands of archaeology artefacts are stored.  Tours will take place at 10.30am, 12noon, 1.30pm and 3.30pm.  Places are limited and must be reserved.  Cost is the normal museum admission price and includes admission to the museum.           Tel:  01305 756827 to book your place.

 

  • Wednesday 19 July – Object Identification Surgery  David Ashford and Ciorstaidh Hayward Trevarthen (Dorset Finds Liaison Officer) will be available from 10am to 1.30pm in the Museum Library ready to help you identify your archaeological finds.  If you have unearthed objects through metal detecting, on the beach or underwater, or just gardening at home, then please bring them along and find out what they are.  Ciorstaidh may ask to borrow your finds and record the details on the finds database so that the information can contribute to our understanding of Dorset’s past. Ciorstaidh works as part of the national Portable Antiquities Scheme which records thousands of items of pottery and flint, metal objects, coins and other finds, dating from prehistory to the post-medieval, each year. The database can be found here: finds.org.uk/database

No admission charge to this surgery, but normal admission prices apply for entry to the museum’s galleries.

Bronze-Axe-Head

  • Friday 21 July – Guided Tours of the Ancient Dorset Gallery (normal admission prices apply).  Tours will start at 11.00am and 2.30pm – no need to book.

 

  • Monday 24 July – Bodies and Bones Normal admission prices apply.  Dr Clare Randall will be cleaning the Whitcombe Warrior plus plenty of activities relating to archaeology in the Ancient Dorset Gallery.   Normal admission prices apply.
Whitcombe Warrior

Whitcombe Warrior

The Whitcombe Warrior is a rare example of a Late Iron Age burial which includes a sword. The Warrior was buried in a small cemetery near Whitcombe, Dorset just before or around the time of the Roman invasion, in a style which is unique to Dorset and is associated with the local tribe, the Durotriges. The Warrior has been on display for many years, and his remains now need some TLC – even things on display in sealed museum cases get dusty over time. We are taking the opportunity during the Festival of Archaeology to give the Warrior a clean, but rather than take him off display to do this, we are going to do the work in the gallery which will give visitors the opportunity to see the remains slightly closer up and discuss them with Dr Clare Randall, who works as an osteoarchaeologist. This is a chance to find out more about the Late Iron Age people of Dorset and their health, disease and burial rituals as well as how we can deduce information from bones. There will be objects of the period to handle and the chance to drop in and chat while the work goes on.

Clare also works with animal remains, and there will be hands on activities for younger visitors which help to explain why the bones of animals are so important to archaeologists and how they are studied. Can you tell the difference between a sheep and a dog if they don’t have their coat on? Can you deduce what an animal might eat or how it lived, just from bits of bones? Could you design an animal from scratch?

  • Tuesday 25 July – Store Tours of All Saints Church This is where thousands of archaeology artefacts are stored.  Tours will take place at 10.30am, 12noon, 1.30pm and 3.30pm.  Places are limited and must be reserved.  Cost is the normal museum admission price and includes admission to the museum.  Tel:  01305 756827 to book your place.

 

  • Thursday 27 July – Bodies and Bones Normal admission prices apply.  Dr Clare Randall will be cleaning the Whitcombe Warrior plus plenty of activities relating to archaeology in the Ancient Dorset Gallery. Normal admission prices apply.

For further information contact the Museum on on 01305 756827 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter

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Archaeology Field Trip: Cadbury Castle and its ancient landscape with Dr Clare Randall

The walk will comprise a tour of Cadbury Castle hillfort, looking in particular at areas which demonstrate the development in the use of the hill from the Neolithic period, through the creation of the hillfort in the early and Middle Iron Age, Roman use as a barracks, important post-Roman refortification and construction of a hall, through to the early medieval period, when it became a burh and a mint. The contemporary sites in the surrounding landscape will be discussed. There will be an optional visit to the South Somerset Archaeological Research Group base at Sutton Montis after the walk.

Cadbury Castle Hillfort

Cadbury Castle Hillfort

Dr. Clare Randall

Dr. Clare Randall

Clare Randall is an archaeologist and zooarchaeologist specialising in the prehistoric period. She currently works as an Archaeological Officer for Context One Archaeological Services Ltd, where she works on projects of all periods across the south west.

She was Research Assistant for the South Cadbury Environs Project, and completed her PhD at Bournemouth University studying the successive prehistoric landscapes around Cadbury Castle in conjunction with the information on livestock husbandry from the animal bones recovered during excavation of the hillfort and surrounding sites.

She has been Research Director of the South Somerset Archaeological Research Group, which continues to work in the area, since 2007.

The walk is on Saturday 1 July 2017 starting at 2.00pm at the car park at Cadbury Castle. The walk is FREE although a donation of £3 is encouraged to cover costs.

For further information about this walk and other forthcoming events contact the Museum on on 01305 756827 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter

For Directions

Meet at the car park at Cadbury Castle, South Cadbury, Yeovil, BA22 7HA (The Camelot Pub is nearby)

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Museum planning application for new extension and development approved

New Museum Entrance concept design -Carmody Groarke © 2015

New Museum Entrance concept design -Carmody Groarke © 2015

The planned extension and redevelopment plans for Dorchester’s County Museum have finally been given the green light by West Dorset District Council.

The plans, which call for the transformation of the museum’s facilities, include a new learning centre, library, café and shop and most importantly additional gallery space.

Hidden behind the museum’s 19th century façade lie almost 4 million artefacts, charting the natural, archaeological, cultural and social history of Dorset. Regrettably, many of these hidden gems have remained just that, hidden from view and unable to tell their story…until now!

With £13 million of the £15 million target already pledged, these hidden gems will once again see the light of day, helping to illustrate, educate and inform us of our unique history.

‘We are absolutely delighted that the relevant authorities have recognised the importance and significance of the project to the local community and to the county. We can now look forward to realising our ambition to provide Dorset with the appropriate facilities in which to properly conserve, display and make accessible, our wonderful collection.’ says Dr Jon Murden, Director of Dorset County museum.

Online donations to the appeal can be made via www.tomorrowsmuseumfordorset.org

Gold coins circa 70-50BC found in Tarrant Valley - DCM © 2017

Gold coins circa 70-50BC found in Tarrant Valley – DCM © 2017

In recognition of the Museum’s unique collections and its role in furthering the knowledge of palaeontology the museum will be welcoming its largest and oldest visitor in February 2018. Dippy, the famous diplodocus skeleton replica from the National History Museum is embarking on national tour with Dorchester being his first stop.

When he was roaming the Earth, Dippy measured almost 30m in length and weighed an incredible 15 tonnes, once installed in the museum’s magnificent Victorian gallery there will be just inches to spare.

Dr Jon Murden, is understandably overjoyed at the prospect of Dippy coming to town.

“Dippy’s visit is a once in generation opportunity and as such we’re expecting a huge demand for tickets” says Jon. The museum’s online ticket reservation service will be launched very soon but visitors are advised to register their advance interest by visiting www.dorsetcountymuseum.org and visiting the Dippy page.

Working in partnership with the Jurassic Coast Trust, visitors to the museum will receive expert guided tours and experience real life time travel by visiting the Jurassic Coast and travelling back 155 million years.

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Exploring museums worldwide with #MuseumWeek 2017

#MuseumWeekDorset County Museum will join museums and galleries across the World on Twitter for #MuseumWeek, a project that will connect people to artwork, culture, history and science in new and interactive ways.

#MuseumWeek 2017 will take place from Monday 19th  – Sunday 25th June 2017 and will give Twitter users direct and unparalleled access to some of the international leading museums and the people behind them in 140-characters bursts.

Last year, audiences have been able to engage with a massive, wide and versatile cultural production: in one week, 664.000 tweets were seen more than 294 million times!

@DorsetMuseum

Follow us @DorsetMuseum

Dorset County Museum will join other UK organisations already signed up include the Science Museum (@sciencemuseum), the Natural History Museum (@NHM_London), the Victoria and Albert Museum (@V_and_A), the British Museum (@britishmuseum), and the Tate (@Tate).

Dorset County Museum will join other Museums across the world by including the hashtag #MuseumWeek in their Tweets for the week, meaning users can follow along on Twitter.

 

7 days, 7 themes, 7 hashtags!

In addition, every day there will be a different theme.

A tribute to women

#MuseumWeek

#MuseumWeek is committed to the cause of gender equality, so they have decided to dedicate 2017 to all women in the World. Thus, on top of the regular daily hashtags mentioned here below, we would really love to see some of your publications around the “Women and Culture” theme with #WomenMW, whenever you can during the week. Contents related to this theme will have more chances to be republished on our official channels!

#FoodMW – Monday 19 June

Who doesn’t love visiting Museum cafés? After a visit there’s nothing better than sitting back and taking it all in with a coffee, but what food related art or exhibits actually in the museum is there anything you particularly love? Or is that café chocolate cake just a work of art in itself! Share today with #FoodMW!

#SportsMW – Tuesday 20 June

Sometimes it feels like we have to be an Olympic hurdler just to get over the daily obstacles put in our way, but what about the sports related items in our collections? Do you have something iconic, important locally or just plain odd that relates to sports? Share today with #SportsMW

#MusicMW – Wednesday 21 June

Did you know 21st June is officially #MusicDay2017! What music or song reminds you of an item in your collection? Do you have items relating to a famous musician or instruments on show or in storage that could be revealed? Share with #MusicMW today!

 #StoriesMW – Thursday 22 June

Who doesn’t love a story? Share stories about your institution, collections, pieces of Art or any objects! Or do you have something related to fairy tales or a famous story that’s been told….or still to tell? Remember that visitors also have stories to share too, involve them as much as possible! Share with #StoriesMW

#BooksMW – Friday 23 June

“A room without books is like a body without a soul.” – What books do you have in your collection? Why are they important or interesting? What books have inspired items in your collection? Is there something once owned by an author? Do you have books in your Museum shop? What’s the best seller? #BooksMW! Pssst, don’t forget the Bookselfies and bookshelfies!

#TravelsMW – Saturday 24 June

Many museums and collections were formed as a result of travels, what items in your collection have arrived at the museum from someone travelling? What about how travelling has changed? From early sea vessels to the first bicycles, share these collections today with #TravelsMW

#HeritageMW – Sunday 25 June

Celebrating and preserving heritage is our work of every day. What do you do for helping your audience to increase access to and to sustain heritage collections? Do you also have valuable collections in storage or online? In all its forms, heritage crystallizes our past and stimulates creativity; they are linked to culture and environment of our families, communities and nations. That is why we should protect them and pass them to the future generations. Celebrate them today with #HeritageMW.

@PliosaurKevan

Follow our #MuseumMascot @PliosaurKevan

A full list of participating UK organisations can be viewed here museum-week.org

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Archaeology Field Trip: Walk at Down Farm, Wimborne St Giles with Dr Martin Green

Martin holding an extraordinary highly polished flint rectangular blade flint or plaque. A prestige object from the late Neolithic © Martin Green 2017

Martin holding an extraordinary highly polished flint rectangular blade flint or plaque. A prestige object from the late Neolithic © Martin Green 2017

On Saturday 3rd June 2017 starting at 2.00pm, Martin Green will lead this trip to explore the archaeological landscape of Down Farm.

This will include the Fir Tree Field shaft containing evidence of Mesolithic to Beaker activity, a rare pond barrow, the Dorset Cursus and other prehistoric features.  We will also visit Martin’s museum containing his extraordinary collection of archaeological artefacts, mainly found in the area.

Martin is a Dorset farmer and renowned amateur archaeologist, awarded an honorary doctorate by Reading University for his life long contribution to the archaeology of Cranborne Chase.

The walk is free although a donation of £3 is encouraged to cover costs.

For further information contact the Museum on on 01305 756827 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter

For Directions

Down Farm, near Wimborne St Giles, Dorset, grid reference ST 999 149 . Turn off the A354 signposted Wimborne St Giles. Continue a short distance along this road. Take the tarmac lane on the right (signposted ‘Down Farm’). The farm is past the cottages on the right hand side.

Archaeology Unearthed: Roman Glass – abundant, bright and beautiful by Dr Denise Allen

Bucknowle Farm Roman Glass Jug - Mark North -DCM © 2017

Bucknowle Farm Roman Glass Jug – Mark North -DCM © 2017

Glass is a versatile and mysterious material – its transformation from basic and cheap ingredients to a clear, enduring and malleable substance is a sort of alchemy.

Come and join us for this interesting talk as Dr Denise Allen explores how the Romans exploited its properties to the full, used it in all sorts of ways, and introduced it to all corners of the Mediterranean world.

Denise Allen began working life as an excavating archaeologist, completed a PhD in Roman Glass at Cardiff University in 1983 and has continued with the specialism ever since. She is Honorary Secretary of the Association for the History of Glass. She was Director of Andante Travels for 17 years, organising archaeological tours all around the world, and led many tours herself. Last year she left the office, moved to Exeter and now works as a freelance guide and lecturer.

The forthcoming lecture will take place on Friday 7 April 2017 in the Dorset County Museum’s Victorian Hall and is FREE to the public; however a donation of £3 encouraged to cover costs. Doors open at 7.00pm and talks start at 7.30pm.

For further information contact the Museum on on 01305 756827 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Archaeology Unearthed: Tears of the Sun: Bronze Age Amber Tracer Beads by Dr. Kate Verkooijen

Amber Bead Necklace

Amber Bead Necklace

In the early and mid-20th century, techniques such as radiocarbon dating did not exist or were still in their infancy. It was difficult, then, to date the various cultural groups in different regions of Europe to see whether they existed at the same time or flourished many centuries apart.

In light of this, the similarities between the amber spacer beads in Britain and Europe have been used for decades as evidence of direct links between the different European cultural groups during the Bronze Age. One of the main conclusions has been that there was a direct link between Early Bronze Age Wessex and Mycenaean Greece, due to the idea of nearly identical amber spacers found in both places.

Despite the prominent role they play in Bronze Age research, the evidence of the spacers both individually and within their original excavation contexts has always been poorly understood. For several decades the corpus was ill-defined and neither described nor presented consistently nor comprehensively. Dr. Kate Verkooijen’s research addresses this problem and, in the light of more recently excavated material and dating evidence, she re-assesses the previous conclusions about direct connections between regions. As well as presenting these results, she will also be bringing along two replicas of British Bronze Age amber spacer sets/’necklaces’.

Dr. Kate Verkooijen grew up in South Dorset and has lived in many places, including Australia. Twenty years ago, she returned to live in this area. Her early interest in archaeology was driven by curiosity about the many Bronze Age barrows on the Ridgeway. In the late 70s, she trained as a field archaeologist with Bill Putnam and worked at several sites across the county, including Culverwell and Hambledon Hill.

She has a BA in Archaeological Illustration (University of Bath/Swindon College of Art) and an MA in Experimental Archaeology (University of Exeter). Her PhD (also from Exeter) focused on the amber spacer beads from the Bronze Age across Europe. Currently, she is an independent archaeology researcher.

The forthcoming lecture will take place on Friday 3 March in the Dorset County Museum’s Victorian Hall and is FREE to the public; however a donation of £3 encouraged to cover costs. Doors open at 7.00pm and talks start at 7.30pm.

For further information contact the Museum on on 01305 756827 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Archaeology Unearthed: The social role of non-metal valuables in Late Bronze Age Britain by Dr Joanna Brück

Necklace of jet and amber from High Throston. Co. Durham © Tees Archaeology 2017

Necklace of jet and amber from High Throston. Co. Durham © Tees Archaeology 2017

Bronze Age metal objects are widely viewed as markers of wealth and status.  Items made from other materials, such as shale and amber, tend either to be framed in similar terms as ‘prestige goods’, or to be viewed as decorative trifles of limited research value.  However, such simplistic models dramatically underplay the social role of objects.

In this talk Dr Joanna Brück will examine objects of amber, jet and shale in Late Bronze Age Britain, addressing in particular their contexts and associations as well as patterns of breakage to consider the cultural meanings and values ascribed to such items and to explore how human and object biographies were intertwined.

Dr Bruck’s primary area of research is the archaeology of the British Bronze Age.   She is particularly interested in the treatment of the human body and concepts of the self; depositional practices and what these reveal about the meanings and values ascribed to objects; and the relationship between space and society including domestic architecture and the changing organisation of landscape.  Dr Bruck has also developed research interest in historical archaeology, including Victorian and Edwardian public parks, and recently published an edited volume on the material culture of the 1916 Rising in Ireland.

This talk will be held at the Dorset County Museum on Friday 3rd February 2017 at 7.30pm (The Museum doors open at 7.00pm). The talk is FREE although a donation of £3 is encouraged to cover costs.

For further information contact the Museum on on 01305 756827 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter

 

Mammoth Book Sale at Dorset County Museum

Book Sale at Dorset County Museum

The Dorset County Museum’s popular annual sale of second-hand books will be taking place on 11, 12 and 14 November 2015 between 10am to 4pm.

Thousands of quality books will be sold at bargain prices – fact, fiction, hardback and softback. Hundreds of subjects and genres will be represented including Dorset, travel, history, music, art and gardening.  A wide selection of fiction will also be available including hard and soft backs. A few minutes’ careful searching could reveal untold treasures!

In addition, there will be a sale of Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society publications at knock-down prices – available only to buyers who visit the sale in person.

All proceeds go towards the upkeep of the Museum and its extensive collections.

Dorset County Museum Book Sale 2012Donations of good quality second hand books will be gratefully received up to and including Friday 11 November.

The Museum’s well-stocked gift shop is also worth a visit with Christmas lines now available, and the popular tea room awaits weary bargain hunters.

Everyone is welcome and entry to the sale is FREE – it would help the Museum if visitors could bring their own bags as supplies of plastic bags will be limited. Please note the Museum will NOT be open on Sunday 13 November.

For further information contact the Museum on on 01305 756827 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Archaeology Unearthed: New light: Gold from Bronze Age Dorset and Beyond by Dr. Neil Wilkin

Tarrant Valley Bronze Age Lunula

Tarrant Valley Bronze Age Lunula DCM © 2016

Gold was amongst the earliest metals worked in Britain and Europe, its appeal has endured for millennia. Gold is a rare metal and it has long been thought to have magical properties associated with the worship of the sun because of its shining surfaces, sun-like colour and slowness to tarnish.

On Friday 4th November 2016 at 7.30pm (The Museum doors open at 7.00pm), Dr Neil Wilkin from the British Museum takes us on a 1,500 year journey through the different ways gold was made and worn during the Bronze Age in Britain, with special attention to the goldwork of Dorset, especially the spectacular new find of a lunula from the Tarrant Valley. The talk will explore the ways that the goldworking craft was related to changes in religious, social and economic activities and how the study of these beautiful objects is rewriting our understanding of the earliest age of metals.

Dr Neil Wilkin’s particular interests are links between Bronze Age ceramics and metalwork and Bronze Age funerary practices and grave goods. He is currently working on a project on prehistoric grave goods which aims to redisplay the Bronze Age material in the British Museum public gallery. He is also the project leader of the Asahi Shimbun displays in Room 3 of the British Museum, overseeing four shows a year focusing on iconic objects from across the Museum’s collection.

Prior to joining the British Museum, Neil worked at the University of Aberdeen’s Marischal [pronounced Marshall] Museum and completed a PhD on Early Bronze Age pottery and burials of Northern England.

Friday 4th November 2016 at 7.30pm (The Museum doors open at 7.00pm). The talk is FREE although a donation of £3 is encouraged to cover costs.

For further information contact the Museum on on 01305 756827 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter