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

Undersea Fun with the Dorset County Museum’s Craft Academy

craft-academy-dorset-county-museumLooking for something to do with the kids this this half term?  Come and join us for a morning of messy fun at Dorset County Museum’s Craft Academy on Wednesday 15 February 10.30am – 12.30pm

Taking inspiration from our current spotlight exhibition ‘Nautilus: Beautiful Survivor – 500 million years of evolutionary history’ based on the book by Wolfgang Grulke in the Victorian Hall children will have a chance to learn and create creatures that live in the sea and their environment.

We’ll provide the materials and the inspiration – you’ll create a wonderful piece to take home with you. Even better, it’s absolutely FREE thanks to sponsorship from Battens Solicitors.

Each time you create a masterpiece at one of our sessions, we will stamp your Craft Academy passport. If you collect three stamps we’ll give you a special certificate.

The next Craft Academy sessions for 2017:

  • Wednesday 12 April

  • Wednesday 19 April

  • Wednesday 31 May

  • Wednesday 2nd August

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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

 

Meet your favourite Sci-Fi and Superhero characters at the Dorset County Museum

StormtroopersIt’s nearly time for Dorchester Christmas Cracker night. The event that officially kicks off Christmas in the County town takes place this year on Thursday 8 December from 5.00pm.

This year by popular demand, everyone’s favourite Science Fiction and Fantasy Movie and TV characters will be back at Dorset County Museum. Come along to see a host of characters from the Superheroes from the Marvel Universe, Star Wars, Doctor Who and many more….

Delicious mulled wine and mince pies will be available to buy and the Tea Room will be open for tasty snacks and refreshments.  A browse in the Museum shop will reveal a wide range of gift ideas including toys, games, books and jewellery.  The current exhibition Speed to the West: A Nostalgic Journey an exhibition of 20th Century Railway Posters will be on display, with prints and railway memorabilia on sale in the shop for just a few more weeks – another fantastic opportunity to pick up a very special Christmas present.

scifi-and-superheros-at-dorset-county-museumEntry to the Museum on Cracker Night is FREE and everyone is welcome. All the galleries will be open on the night.

For further information 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

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

Festival of Archaeology at the Dorset County Museum

Festival of ArchaeologyThe 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 our contribution to this year’s festival, Dorset County Museum will host a variety of events including Viking re-enactments and a rare opportunity to tour the Museum’s archaeology store.  “This is a fantastic opportunity for people to see a whole range of 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.“

Viking at the Dorset County Museum

Vikings will be invading the museum during the festival

Visitors to the museum can also see the newly refurbished Ancient Dorset gallery which tells the fascinating story of the past of the ancient peoples living in this county, from the Lower Palaeolithic Age 3 million years ago to 1066AD. With a brand new display of the recently discovered mass Viking burial discovered on the Ridgeway outside Weymouth.

Events at the Museum:

  • Tuesday 19 and 26th July – Tour of the archaeology store in All Saint’s Church, High East Street, Dorchester.  See behind the scenes and experience some of the millions of objects we don’t have space to normally display. Tours will commence from the Museum at: 10.30am, 12noon, 1.30pm and 3.30pm. Places limited, booking is essential. Normal admission prices apply.
  • Wedneday 20 July – Archaeology Day will be held at the Museum with activities throughout the day, including displays, hands on archaeology and meet the experts, mini-talks and the finds ID surgery. Bring in objects you have found – coins, buckles, pottery, anything! Ciorstaidh Hayward Trevarthen, Finds Liaison Officer for the Portable Antiquities Scheme will be able to explain what they are. The Finds ID Surgery is at 10.30am and 2pm, and you will need to book. All other activities will happen through the day and you can just drop in. Normal admission prices apply.
  • Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 July – History is being brought to life as the Vikings invade Dorset County Museum! Come and meet the Vikings from 11am until 4pm. Witness hand to hand   combat, visit craftspeople to find out how chain mail and fishing nets were made, watch Norse cooking demonstrations, mint a Viking coin and listen to exciting Viking sagas full of adventure. Normal admission prices apply.
  • Wednesday 27 July – Roman Dorchester a rare chance to visit inside one of the best-preserved Roman Town Houses in Britain and see the beautiful mosaic floors at close range. Tours will commence from the Dorset County Museum at: 11am, 12noon, 1.30pm and 3.30pm. Places limited, booking is essential. Normal admission prices apply.
Dorchester Roman Town House

Dorchester Roman Town House

  • Saturday 30 July Family Archaeology Day will be held at the Museum with activities throughout the day suitable for younger visitors. Hands on activities and trails, and meet some archaeologists from Wessex Archaeology and Context One Archaeological Services.  Find out about bones and how archaeologists use new technology with displays and mini-talks for the family.  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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Dorset County Museum celebrates International Museum Day

International Museum Day 2016To celebrate International Museum Day on Wednesday, Dorset County Museum is offering half price entry all day with our special promotional vouchers, and FREE museum tours at 1.00pm, 2.00pm and 3.00pm.

Vouchers can be downloaded from www.facebook.com/events/1021234407913583

The theme of International Museum Day 2016 is Museums and Cultural Landscapes, and it highlights the role of museums in strengthening ties between local people and their environment.

With this in mind, come and see the newly refurbished Ancient Dorset Gallery at the Museum which tells the fascinating story of the ancient Britons, Romans, Saxons and Vikings who lived on the South Dorset Ridgeway and discover the impact they had on the landscape we can see today.

The International Council of Museums (ICOM) established International Museum Day in 1977 to increase public awareness of the role of museums in the development of society, and it has been steadily gaining momentum ever since.  In 2015, International Museum Day garnered record-breaking participation with more than 35,000 museums hosting events in some 145 countries.  For more information, visit www.imd.icom.museum.

Sharing Heritage: Museum Makers Group celebrates £6,000 Heritage Lottery Fund Grant

Museum-Makers

The Museum Makers rehearsing for their latest performance ‘The Vikings are Coming!’ at the Dorset County Museum

Dorset County Museum has received a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) Sharing Heritage grant, it was announced today.  The grant will fund an exciting Museum Makers project which will provide educational and inspirational opportunities for adults with learning disabilities as they engage with the collections at the Museum.  

The project will work with local disability groups, carers, specialist artists and performers on a wide range of creative activities inspired by the Museum’s desire to share the stories of Dorset’s heritage with vulnerable adults in the community.  Weekly creative sessions will include activities such as acting, music, craft making and shadow puppetry which will result in the group producing and performing a play and a film for friends, family and the wider community to enjoy, all inspired by the Museum’s collections.

The initial focus for the group will be recently acquired archaeology collections including the Viking skeletons discovered on the South Dorset Ridgeway, which the Museum Makers will use to explore the Viking connection with Dorset, performing a play based on their discoveries.

The latter half of the project will see the group explore themes relating to the Museum’s current exhibition of railway posters of the twentieth century, Speed to the West:  a Nostalgic Journey.  From this they will produce a film on the coming of the railway to Dorchester, connections with Dorset’s literary heritage and the founding of the Museum itself in response to the threat posed by the construction of the new railways to Dorset’s archaeological heritage and natural history.

Commenting on the award, Andy Worth, Museum Makers Volunteer, said “We’re thrilled to have been awarded this grant and we can’t wait to get started on the project. The Museum Makers group will feel a stronger sense of belonging to their community through engaging with Dorset’s past, and at the same time they will be developing their own self-confidence through learning new skills, performing and film-making.  We’re also delighted by the support we’ve had from Dorset County Museum, and can’t emphasise enough how crucial this interim grant is to the Museum Makers. ”  

Dr Peter Down, Chairman of Dorset County Museum added “This will be a really fantastic project, and staff and volunteers here at the Museum will give our whole hearted support to the Museum Makers in any way that we can.”

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