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Favourite artefacts at Salisbury Museum described by work experience students Evie Gallagher and Fianna Fernandes

Jade Axe

Figheldean Jade Axe

Some people may believe that working in a museum for a week would be of no interest to young people – that they would not be interested in history or in the area that they live. However we disagree with this – we have both been at Salisbury Museum for a week’s work experience and have found it incredibly interesting. We have learnt not only about Salisbury, but how people lived – and what life was like for people throughout the centuries.

In the Wessex Gallery two extremely popular objects caught our eyes. The first, the Figheldean Jade axe. It is a perfect tear shaped axe, carved from a stone from the Alps, Italy. This first fact shows that people travelled around Europe during early Neolithic times. It is highly polished and also extremely rare; perhaps showing importance. This is one of our favourite objects in the museum because the display doesn’t have enough information to tell you why it was made; but it has enough information to allow you to create your own stories of how or why it was made and what it was possibly for. For example it could have been made by the best craftsmen for a leader in a village to show power and importance – this would explain why it is so well polished and perfect.

Another of our favourite artefacts at the museum is the Amesbury Archer. It is around 4300 years old and is late Neolithic (meaning it is from around 2400BC to 2200 BC), and was found near Stonehenge. The Amesbury Archer was thought to be a metal worker by trade; however he was buried with eighteen arrowheads – hence his name.. It is thought that he was a metalworker because he was also buried with three copper knives and two gold hair ornaments in his grave. As well as this, four boar tusks, 122 flint tools, one cushion stone and five beaker pots. The beaker pots are of importance as this makes his grave one of the earliest bell beaker graves in Britain. Having this many items in his grave would’ve made him someone of importance as this was a very elaborate funeral.

Amesbury Archer

We can find out more about the Amesbury Archer from tests run on his teeth. He had grown up, or spent a significant portion of his life, in the Alps. We can tell this by the minerals in the water in the Alps. Today it would not be possible to find out where someone lived by their teeth as our water is now chemically treated, and we also move around to different areas – meaning that tests taken on our teeth in years to come would not be accurate.

Another of our favourite exhibits is Turner’s watercolour painting of the inside of Salisbury Cathedral. It was painted in 1797 and is displayed in the Wessex Gallery. It is one of our favourites because he exaggerates the size of the cathedral by shrinking the size of the people inside. He also paints the flawless architecture of the cathedral making it memorable.

Overall, we have found our experience at the museum extremely fascinating. At times we have had to work hard and get a lot of work done – but the results have been satisfying and we feel that we have accomplished a lot – not only in the work we have done, but through enhancing our skills such as teamwork and communication. We have learnt that the museum not only provides great exhibits and information to the public, but also a welcoming environment (evident through our visitor survey data entry!) – and is able to attract people of all different ages from many different places around the world. We have learnt what makes a good team different from a great team – and about how all different sections of the museum are able to come together and create a fantastic, lively, enjoyable experience for all.