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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#FoodMW – Small recipe book for a big appetite

Felicity Hebditch volunteers with the social history team at the Dorset County Museum, and has been researching this fascinating little recipe book ‘Domestic Cookery or Family Receipt Book’.

In it, Felicity finds out about the life of a domestic servant around 1850’s. Meals were prepared under conditions far removed from what we are now accustomed to…. uncovering stories from sparrow dumpling recipes to fuller’s earth with vinegar for pimples.

Front pages from Domestic Cookery

Front pages from Domestic Cookery

‘A Lady’ author

In the Museum’s collections is a small book ‘Domestic Cookery or Family Receipt Book’ written around 1850 by ‘A Lady’ as ‘a practical guide for housekeepers’. Who wrote it? Before Mrs. Beeton there was Eliza Acton (1799-1859), who was the first cookery writer to list the ingredients and the length of cooking time for her recipes. She produced ‘Modern Cookery for Private Families’ in 1845. Before Eliza Acton there was Maria Eliza Rundell who wrote ‘A New System of Domestic Cookery’ in 1806, an enormously successful publication which continued to be produced for fifty years after her death in updated versions. Domestic Cookery is probably a pirated edition of Rundell’s work.

An Experienced Cook and Confectioner

An Experienced Cook and Confectioner

Turtle for tea?

All the dishes are written from the point of view of a servant sending dishes to the dining room. These are substantial recipes for large households; ‘portable soup for travellers’ requires three large legs of veal and one of beef, the lean part of half a ham and a quarter of a pound of butter. Recipes are very meat based and the meat is not for the squeamish. The cook (or her assistant) was instructed to kill a pig, kill and draw ducks, skin eels, even kill and deal with a turtle. (The Earl of Verulam came home with a turtle in his coach, a surprise for his cook?) There is also ‘Artificial turtle’, Alice’s mock turtle. Our more ecological times regret their eating larks (‘a dozen or so’), and there is even a recipe for sparrow dumplings.

Many of the dishes are served with sauces thickened with bread rather than flour, as medieval cookery does, and yolks of egg. Wine is added sometimes, or lemons, and generous helpings of Cayenne pepper, ‘catchup’ (ketchup) or mushroom ‘catchup’, and always a good dollop of butter. Very few ‘receipts’ incorporate vegetables, though stews do have onions and carrots, and celery is added to several dishes. The vegetables are cooked in ‘a large quantity of water’; cauliflower is cooked in milk and water, but ‘spinage’ is only cooked for two minutes so wouldn’t have lost all its flavour.

Stew celery

Take off the outside and the green ends of your heads of celery, boil them in water till they are very tender, put in a slice of lemon, a little beaten mace, thicken it with a good lump of butter and flour, boil it a little, add a little cream, shake it over the fire till it be of a fine thickness, but do not let it boil.

Cooks needed to be able to control the fire or stove. The roasting of a piece of meat meant toasting it in front of the fire; to keep the fire at a constant heat for four or five hours was hard work, and the meat would have to be basted to prevent it from drying out. A number of dishes involve boiling and then finishing off with frying in butter. This presumably helped to send things in to dinner hot. The pots and pans were heavy and hard to clean. Various things are boiled in a tossing pan.

Medieval meals featured an amusing or stunning dish as a centre piece, like today’s birthday cake. The book’s author gives descriptions of dishes made with marzipan, a scene of baby chicks and a hen with straw made of lemon peel, a fish pond with marzipan fish floating on jelly, sugar spun to make a nest with marzipan eggs.

Another Soup Recipe - Green Peas Soup without Meat

Another Soup Recipe – Green Peas Soup without Meat

Domestic Goddess

There is no dashing down to shops to buy ready made goods. Home grown fruit and vegetables had to be turned into pickles or jam to preserve it. Hand cream had to be made of hog’s fat and hair restorative from honey and rosemary. Ink was made of galls, green copperas, gum arabic and a wine glass of brandy! And then there were the rats; Corks cut very thin, and fried or stewed in dripping and placed in the way of rats will be greedily devoured, and they will die of indigestion. They tried to solve medical conditions; to cure worms with turpentine and egg, fuller’s earth with vinegar for pimples. Mutton suet was the best thing to keep irons from going rusty, tea leaves for sweeping carpets and fine carpets had to be swept ‘on the knees’.

Hard work!

  • Follow @dorsetmuseum Twitter for #museumweek 19-25 June 2017 which this year highlights women in museums.