British Museum Curator to give talk on Ice Age Art

Ivory Swimming ReindeerIn 2013 the British Museum staged a unique exhibition of Ice Age Art, created between 40,000 and 10,000 years ago. It presented masterpieces of sculpture, ceramics, drawing and personal ornaments from all over Europe. These striking objects are now the subject of a fascinating talk at Dorset County Museum by the exhibition’s curator, Jill Cook.

Jill Cook

Jill Cook

Jill is a Senior Curator and Deputy Keeper of the Department of Prehistory & Europe at The British Museum. She is an archaeologist whose interest in archaeology began in Dorset as a teenager when she volunteered on Roman villa excavations at Dewlish. At university the subject of her dissertation was Edward Cunnington and his excavations of Dorset barrows. Since then, she has specialized in the deeper history of much earlier periods, investigating the archaeology of human evolution, as well as the history of archaeology.

During her talk on Ice Age art at Dorset County Museum on 5th December, Jill Cook will show some of the masterpieces from the exhibition such as the British Museum’s mammoth ivory sculpture of a pair of swimming reindeer, plus the oldest known sculptures, drawings and musical instruments from Europe. Far from being simple objects from a remote time, Jill will explain how these works of art are important clues about the evolution of our brains and the development of modern human societies.

The talk starts at 7.30pm and entry is FREE. The doors will open at 7.00pm and all donations to cover costs will be welcome. For further information visit www.dorsetcountymuseum.org or telephone the Museum on 01305 262735.

Museum appeals for help to buy Iron Age mirror

The Chesil Mirror

The Chesil Mirror

Dorset County Museum is asking for help to buy a valuable artefact for its collection.

In 2010 a beautiful copper-alloy mirror was discovered between Abbotsbury and Chickerell and it is now up for sale.  The mirror is characteristic of the late Iron Age and is similar to the Portesham Mirror currently in the Museum’s possession. This type of mirror is extremely rare – fewer than 30 have ever been discovered in the UK.

The Chesil Mirror, as the new find has been named, is stunningly decorated and beautifully crafted and was found in a grave dating back to the Roman Conquest.  The body was buried in a characteristic crouched position and the grave also contained two brooches, an armlet, copper tweezers, coins and some glass beads.

In August 2011 the whole assemblage was declared Treasure and in April 2012 the Secretary of State set its price at £23,000.  The Museum now needs to raise this money urgently to save the collection for Dorset and prevent its possible sale to an overseas buyer. Jon Murden, director of Dorset County Museum said, “This mirror is very important to us because it is closely connected with the one we acquired in 1994 and is decorated in a similar way.  These rare and fascinating objects are significant because they tell us so much about power and wealth in Iron Age Dorset.  We hope this appeal will encourage local people to support us so that we can buy the mirror and give it pride of place in our Archaeology Gallery.” 

The Museum is planning a series of fundraising events and will be applying for various funds and grants to help with the purchase, but more support is needed.  Any money donated will go straight into a special fund which has been set up for the acquisition of this important archaeological discovery.

One event already planned is a lecture by Professor Andrew Fitzpatrick of Wessex Archaeology.  He will talk about the significance of the Chesil mirror and explain how it fits into our wider understanding of Iron Age Dorset. The lecture is at 7 for 7.30pm on Friday 30 November.  Tickets are available now from the Museum shop and cost £10.

If you would like to help with the Chesil Mirror appeal, please send cheques, made payable to DNHAS, to: Chesil Mirror Appeal, Dorset County Museum, High West Street, Dorchester, DT1 1XA.