Museum Makers: The Vikings are Coming!

Museum Makers: Cast and Crew during the final dress rehearsal for The Vikings are Coming!

Cast and Crew during the final dress rehearsal for The Vikings are Coming!

Cast and Crew during the final dress rehearsal for The Vikings are Coming!

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Museum Makers: Working on Scene 1 of The Vikings are Coming!

SCENE 1. THE LONGHOUSE

A Viking Longhouse somewhere in Scandinavia. It’s the middle of winter, and provisions are running very low. The Chief is struggling to keep his people’s spirits up, and the snow gets ever deeper.

The Frost hardens, and YMIR, the frost giant, enters the Longhouse and freezes all the inhabitants. Even the chief eventually succumbs to his icy touch. Then ODIN and FREYA, accompanied by the young dragon FIREDANCER, enter the Longhouse. FIREDANCER and FREYA chase out YMIR with heat and warmth, and the chief and all his people are thawed by the dragon’s breath.

The chief and his wife thank ODIN and FREYA, and in the true spirit of VIKING hospitality, offer food and shelter. Unfortunately there is very little food, and the only thing to do is to get the chief’s wife to prepare yet another batch of STONE SOUP!

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Museum Makers: The Vikings are Coming!

With funding from Heritage Lottery Fund, the Museum Makers have been using the museum’s archaeology collection and exploring the Ancient Dorset Gallery to find out about the Viking connection with Dorset for the first part of their project.

Our play this year is inspired by the discovery of a large number of decapitated skeletons in a mass grave on the Ridgeway during the construction of the new Dorchester to Weymouth Road.

Archaeologists excavate mass grave of executed Vikings

Archaeologists excavate mass grave of executed Vikings

Who were these strangers that came to such a miserable end on a Dorset Hilltop? Why did they leave the safety of the own country to travel across the North Sea?

The Vikings had a vibrant and distinctive culture, and were renowned for their hospitality and storytelling. We have explored the history of the Vikings, and borrowed some of the heroes and gods of Norse mythology to populate our play. We invite you to come back in time, and to join us on a journey of discovery across the sea in a Longship!

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Family Activity: Anglo-Saxon Art

Anglo-Saxon-ArtOn Wednesday 28th October at the Dorset County Museum children are being invited to come along and discover for themselves how the Anglo-Saxons produced their art and what inspired their creativity. There will be an opportunity for children to make and take home their own piece of Anglo-Saxon artwork.

This activity takes place between 10.30am – 12.30pm. There’s no need to book as this activity is FREE thanks to generous sponsorship from Battens Solicitors. Up to two accompanied children aged 4 -12 will be admitted per adult.

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

Spend a Night in the Museum with the Vikings

Viking Sleepover at Dorset County MuseumYes, it’s Halloween, but if you fancy doing something a little bit different on Saturday 31st October with your kids, come and join us for an activity packed night to remember in Dorset County Museum.

There are a whole host of activities planned for the night around a central theme, ‘The Vikings’, to coincide with the opening of our new Ancient Dorset Gallery in early November (this will be open for viewing on the night).

Viking at the Dorset County MuseumNot only will you be able to see real Viking skeletons over 1,000 years old, but Re-enactment Group Hrafnslith will be telling interactive stories of Viking adventure and derring-do, and giving weaponry demonstrations. On top of this, you can help professional artist Darrell Wakelam to build a huge Viking long-boat, and make your own long-boat model to take home with you. Then after hot chocolate and biscuits, nestle down for a night’s sleep before a complimentary light breakfast the following morning in the Museum’s beautiful Victorian Hall. We will be showing the film ‘How to Train your Dragon’ in the morning to end this Viking sleepover. A very popular event in previous years, this really will be a night to remember!

The Sleepover is on Saturday 31st October 2015 6.00pm, until 9.30am the next morning. Tickets are limited to 100, and are on sale now from the Museum shop on High West Street, Dorchester or by telephone on 01305 756827. This event is for children aged 7 – 13, with a maximum of 2 children per adult (who must stay overnight with the children). Ticket prices: children £15, adults £12 to include evening refreshments and light breakfast.

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

 

TV Historian Dan Snow visits Dorset County Museum for his latest TV Series

Dan Snow with Dr. Louise Loe -  Andy Worth/Dorset County Museum © 2015

Dan Snow with Dr. Louise Loe – Andy Worth/Dorset County Museum © 2015

On Wednesday the 19th August 2015, TV Historian, Dan Snow came to the Dorset County Museum to film his latest BBC TV series exploring the age of the Vikings.
This programme will feature the discovery of a mass grave of skeletons in 2009 on Ridgeway Hill during the construction of the Weymouth Relief Road in Dorset. Around 50 skeletons, predominantly of young Scandinavian adult males, were found in an old quarry pit. All had been decapitated. Their heads had been placed in a pile located at one edge of the grave.

Dr. Louise Loe, Head of Heritage Burial Services at Oxford Archaeology discussed with Dan the evidence in identifying these individuals, their origins and even their state of health.
The remains of these Ridgeway Vikings and other important archaeology treasures will be on permanent display in the museum’s newly refurbished Ancient Dorset Gallery. The refurbishment of this gallery has been supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty South Dorset Ridgeway Landscape Partnership Scheme, Dorset County Council, West Dorset District Council and Alice Ellen Cooper-Dean Charitable Foundation.

The Ancient Dorset gallery at Dorset County Museum will become the visitor centre for the South Dorset Ridgeway. Ultimately it will link in with information panels to be displayed along the ridgeway itself helping visitors explore this area which is rich in heritage. This landscape is considered by many to be as important as Stonehenge and Avebury for revealing the lives of our ancestors. The ridge of high land, running parallel with the coast between Weymouth and Dorchester has been an important place for people for over five thousand years. It has over 1,000 monuments that record the history of the Ridgeway since that time.

Jon Murden, director of Dorset County Museum said “The archaeology of Dorset is the history of over 400,000 years of human habitation in the county – our collections are nationally significant and cover the entire period from Palaeolithic times to Saxon and Viking Dorset, so it will be especially exciting for the Museum to be featured in this programme which will be screened later this year.”

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Vikings invade the museum!

Viking at the Dorset County MuseumHistory is being brought to life this summer – the Vikings are invading Dorset County Museum! Come and meet the Vikings from 11am until 4pm on Sunday 23rd August. 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.

The Wessex based Hrafnslith (‘Troop of the Raven’) is a regional group belonging to the oldest ‘Dark Ages’ historical re-enactment society, “The Vikings”. They will be recreating an impressive living history encampment within the Museum, showcasing the lifestyles of the Viking and Anglo-Saxon peoples of the 8th – 11th century. They will be on hand to give demonstrations of Viking / Saxon Age crafts, skills, games and pastimes as well as performing combat displays with a variety of weaponry.

As part of the event, the public will have the opportunity to view selected areas of the Museum’s new Ancient Dorset Gallery supported by the South Dorset Ridgeway Landscape Partnership, before its completion and official opening in the autumn.

Viking at the Dorset County MuseumDirector Dr. Jon Murden said “We welcome families at the Museum, and these events are going to be wonderful for children, really bringing history alive for them. We want to inspire the next generation to help conserve Dorset’s past, and to that end there will be a special offer on our membership price for any families or individuals who sign up at the events, which will give them free entry to the Museum for a whole year.”

With plenty for children to see and do throughout the summer holidays including museum trails and, for dinosaur fans, a gallery dedicated to all things dinosaur which boasts a huge pliosaur skull over 155 million years old, Dorset County Museum is well worth a visit. Find details of our summer events contact the Museum on 01305 756827 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter

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Vikings invade the museum!

Vikings-invade-Dorset-County-MuseumHistory is being brought to life this summer – the Vikings are invading Dorset County Museum! Come and meet the Vikings from 10.00am until 4.00pm on Saturday 1st and Sunday 23rd August from 11.00am to 4.00pm. 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.

The Wessex based Hrafnslith (‘Troop of the Raven’) is a regional group belonging to the oldest ‘Dark Ages’ historical re-enactment society, “The Vikings”. They will be recreating an impressive living history encampment within the Museum, showcasing the lifestyles of the Viking and Anglo-Saxon peoples of the 8th – 11th century. They will be on hand to give demonstrations of Viking / Saxon Age crafts, skills, games and pastimes as well as performing combat displays with a variety of weaponry.

Director Dr. Jon Murden said “We welcome families at the Museum, and these events are going to be wonderful for children, really bringing history alive for them. We want to inspire the next generation to help conserve Dorset’s past, and to that end there will be a special offer on our membership price for any families or individuals who sign up at the events, which will give them free entry to the Museum for a whole year.”

With plenty for children to see and do throughout the summer holidays including museum trails and, for dinosaur fans, a gallery dedicated to all things dinosaur which boasts a huge pliosaur skull over 155 million years old, Dorset County Museum is well worth a visit. Find details of our summer events contact the Museum on 01305 756827 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter

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Jurassic World – Come and see the World’s Biggest Bite!

Jurassic-WorldJurassic World has been released this weekend – and if you’ve enjoyed the film, now come and see the enormous 150million year old skull of the Weymouth Bay Pliosaur at Dorset County Museum!

The fossil bones of this pliosaur skull were recovered by amateur fossil collector Kevan Sheehan between 2003 and 2008, as they were washed out of a landslide on the coast in Weymouth Bay. The largest piece weighed over 80 kg, and the skull itself is a massive 2.4 metres long. Featured recently as one of National Geographic’s Top 10 Biggest Beasts, the pliosaur was the ‘T Rex of the ocean’, an 18metre long ferocious predator of the seas. Known as ‘The World’s Biggest Bite’, the Weymouth Bay Pliosaur would have been capable of biting the biggest great white shark alive today clean in half.

The Dorset specimen is one of the most complete and best preserved skulls ever found, and as a result it has provided new insights into our understanding of how these enormous animals evolved.

Richard Edmonds and Kevan Sheehan with the Pliosaur skull © DCM

Richard Edmonds and Kevan Sheehan with the Pliosaur skull © DCM

Since its discovery, hundreds of hours have been spent carrying out a detailed analysis and cleaning away the rock to expose the detail of the fossil underneath. Alongside this conservation work an intensive programme involved the Jurassic Coast team and Dorset County Museum working together to produce an exciting, interactive display showcasing the fossil with the theme ‘The World’s Biggest Bite’. Mounted dramatically on a specially constructed plinth that shows the jaws in an awe-inspiring open-mouthed position, the story of the fossil is interpreted through a series of film presentations accompanied by a life-size model of the pliosaur’s head.

Dr. Jon Murden, Director said “It’s amazing to see this skull up close in the Museum – standing next to it you can really appreciate its enormous size, and get a feel for the terrifying predator it once was.”

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