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 or follow us on Facebook and Twitter

An Exhibition of Merrily Harpur’s Artwork

Merrily Harpur at Work

Merrily Harpur at Work

Dorset County Museum is pleased to present an exhibition by Merrily Harpur, the well-known cartoonist and illustrator, her work having appeared regularly in all the national broadsheets, and in books by Kingsley Amis, Miles Kington, Gerald Durrell, John Michell and others.  She also found time to write the authoritative study of Britain’s mystery big cats – the panther- and puma-like creatures regularly spotted in our countryside, not least in Dorset.

Rodden the Wind from the Sea by Merrily Harpur

Rodden the Wind from the Sea by Merrily Harpur

However she has always been a secret painter of landscapes, and upon moving to this county fell hopelessly in love with its beauties and surprises – the unexpected changes of angle and perspective that West Dorset offers with each half mile travelled.  She paints en plein air or, more accurately, in situ – sitting in the car, enjoying the scent of turpentine and listening to Radio 3. If you spot a mossy, mud-bespattered car in an unlikely corner of a field or lane, this could be her – probably paint-bespattered – attempting to conjure up, in paint, the genius loci – the particular magic of our place.

She now lives and paints in Cattistock, where in 2013 she inaugurated the Fox Festival, and wrote the libretto for Nick Morris’s acclaimed oratorio The Fox That Walked on Water.

Merrily’s work will be on view from 16 January 2017 – 1 April 2017 in the museum’s Tea Room, and it will be FREE to come and view. Her work will be for sale during the exhibition.

Related Links:

Our Changing Climate by Dr. Felicity Liggins

Dr. Felicity Liggins

Dr. Felicity Liggins

In the UK, the winter of 2013/14 was truly record-breaking. During a lecture at Dorset County Museum on 11th February Dr Felicity Liggins of the Meteorological Office talks about the possible causes of this exceptional weather and discusses whether climate change could at least partly to blame.

The series of winter storms in 2013 was exceptional in its duration and led to the wettest December to January period since records began. Heavy rains, strong winds and high waves led to widespread flooding and coastal damage causing significant disruption to individuals, businesses and infrastructure. But the UK wasn’t alone in experiencing extreme weather. It also coincided with exceptionally cold weather in Canada and the USA and enhanced rainfall over Indonesia.

Felicity Liggins is a senior climate consultant bringing interpretation of climate science to a range of customers including the oil and gas industries and local government. She helps organisations identify the challenges and opportunities climate change could bring both in the UK and around the world, providing the confidence to make appropriate decisions.
Felicity also leads the Met Office’s STEM Outreach programme, coordinating a network of over 170 Ambassadors and working with other organisations around the UK. The programme promotes the work of the Met Office to young people and wider communities and highlights how a career in science, technology, engineering or maths can be exciting, rewarding and of benefit to society.

The lecture on our changing climate takes place at 7.00pm on Wednesday 11th February and doors are open from 6.30pm. The event is free but donations are welcome and all are welcome to attend. The event is FREE of charge but a donation of £3.00 is encouraged to cover costs. For further information please see or telephone 01305 262735.

An Englishman’s Home – a play by Major Guy du Maurier

An Englishman’s Home – a play by Major Guy du MaurierA dramatic play reading provides the final event associated with Dorset County Museum’s current exhibition, A Dorset Woman at War. On 16th October The New Hardy Players will be reading a play originally published in 1909. An Englishman’s Home caused a sensation when it came out anonymously under the name, A Patriot. It later came known to be the work of Captain Guy du Maurier, a British officer. An uncle to Daphne du Maurier, his play was said to have influenced her famous novel, The Birds. An Englishman’s Home went on to be a long-running success and was later made into a film.

“This play was politically provocative and was deliberately designed to frighten its audiences” says Jon Murden, director of Dorset County Museum. “Writers like du Maurier were frequently criticised as scaremongers by leading politicians of the day, but unfortunately their fears were ultimately proved correct by the outbreak of the First World War.”

The semi-staged play will be performed with some costumes and props and is set almost entirely in the sitting room of a suburban house in Essex. It tells the story of a fictional attack on England by an unknown enemy (generally assumed to be Germany). The alarming nature of the story, at a time of increasing tension between Britain and Germany, served to highlight the unreadiness of Britain to repel such an attack and was credited with boosting army recruitment in the years immediately prior to World War I. It also influenced Mabel Stobart, the subject of the Museum’s current exhibition.

Tickets for the play reading cost £7.00 and include a complimentary glass of wine or a soft drink. The event starts at 7.30pm on Thursday 16th October and all are welcome. Tickets are available now from the Museum Shop on 01305 756827. For further information see