Or…as Alan Clarke has suggested, in producing this photo for us, “Eh Tu, Peter?”
I think we recognise these two gentlemen…. Peter Saunders, Curator Emeritus, and Roman friend, who is now established on the museum lawn.
But what, when, where…? Is it part of the current museum site, stripped out and being set up? Peter was ‘at the helm’ when all that happened. Or is it part of the old museum, formerly in St Anns Street? Or is it somewhere else entirely?
Wonderful items in the background. Where are they now? A careful look to the rear right hand corner reveals something on which Sydney Carton might have traveled to the guillotine. Perhaps the monumental wheels we can see belong to that tumbril (if that is what it is!)?
Our Social History Volunteers, Jean and Jane, have found some Victorian toys in their cupboard. The toys have now been carefully checked, properly wrapped and catalogued. But before they disappeared back into the cupboard, we photographed them for us all to enjoy.
The label which accompanies this toy suggests it is mid-nineteenth century. It may be a little later than that, judging from the barrow boy’s bowler, perhaps 1870s. The label also states, with great confidence, that it was manufactured by Chanell’s. Your blogger is not familiar with the name, and a quick search on the internet has not helped. Was it a local manufacturer?
The barrow is also interesting. Barrows were usually open, as in ‘wheelbarrow’. As you can see, this one opens at the top, and may have been constructed like that to allow the child to place its own items inside . Or, indeed, the toy may have originally been fitted with items for sale. It seems unusual – haven’t yet been able to find a parallel. Any ideas?
This lady, driving her pigs to market, is lovely! And the toy possibly dates to about the same time as the barrow boy. The whole item was apparently pulled, or pushed, and as it moved, the pigs skittered about. Definitely Gloucester Old Spot by the way….
Vintage toys are always very emotive. They tell us much about an era, and children.
The two Alans are back – Volunteers Alan Clarke and Crooks – with gems for the new year. First Alan Clarke, with two photographs from our archives…
The museum has just been donated roughly a thousand glass plate negatives, some dating back to around 1875. They are of various sizes up to bigger than A4. The subject matter is vast but includes many local scenes such as ones of Stonehenge, New Forest and surroundings.
According to some of the images, around the turn of the century (1900) there were a number of local baking competitions for who could make the best bread. Photographs were taken of all the competitors’ bread and their slices!
There is little textual information with any of the 1000 plates. Hence one is left to finding people who might recognise the images. The rest of this blog deals with just one such image – Image A. The quality of the original image allows a zoomed in image to be made – Image B.
Below are the comments of various volunteers who have inspected the image in great detail:
This is an image of Swanage Pier, the Wellington Tower in the background was re-sited here in 1867-ish.
The square tall house behind to the right is The Grove, which, by 1907 wasthe Grosvenor Hotel. It still appears like a private house in this image, which may suggest a turn of the century date.
The railway wagons are sitting on the pier having been unloaded from a coal-boat. It is almost certainly sacks of coal, with individual lumps of coal piled up – unless you think otherwise – and is awaiting horse and carts to take it to the new coal-gas-works (for street-lighting) in Hop Pole Lane at the far end of town. The company of Mowlem (under George Burt) is the business here in all probability.
This is possibly a very early image of Swanage Pier – the first pier, a working jetty – I note the lack of cranes.
This image must have been taken from the upper deck of the new pier, dating to it to after 1896-ish. And the coals are not for the gas works, but almost certainly for the steamers of Cosens and Co., Weymouth, which berthed and coaled on the old pier once they had disgorged their passengers.
It dates post-1896. The modern Swanage Pier had at last been built, the old pier (pictured) had long since not been used for exporting stone, its purported purpose, and had been used primarily for the previous decade or so for the quickly increasing trade in people on steamers. Not a good environment for passengers to disembark!
Now, with the new parade pier built for passengers, the old pier was used for berthing the paddle steamers overnight during the April-Oct season. Cosens of Weymouth generally kept two and sometimes three steamers here on station during the season between the 1890s and 1930s. The pier was secure out of hours, and ideal to keep coal on. I think these trucks have a bed of sacks of coal, with larger lumps piled centrally above. The steamers would be coaled in the evening – there was some friction with Swanage Council at one point when the council tried to lessen the amount of fresh water the steamers could take on. The tramway was mostly unused at this stage, it extended off the pier to a warehouse just along the promenade, but no further, so it could not be used for real transportation.
Ball clay looks like lumps of coal. See Image-C where men are cutting out the ball clay and piling it on a railway truck.
The clay industry was based out at Norden and beyond Corfe, and after 1885 the Swanage Railway would have provided them the obvious modern alternative to boats, so I don’t see these trucks as holding clay. It might be that Cosens held a stock of coals here for sale as well, although the Swanage Railway also had a coal yard providing coal for sale.
I have captured all the above information in the jpeg images metadata because I don’t know what the truth is! Lots of scope here for the realenthusiast to delve into. Do you the blog reader, have any more information? Original high definition image available upon request…
What links a yellow dwarf with the Curse of Scotland, with Matrimony and Intrigue, ladies with feathers, and countries all over Europe? Read on…
Did you know that there is a theory that Pope John VIII was a woman? This thirteenth century conspiracy theory (conspiracy theories, it seems, aren’t a modern phenomenon) suggests that Ioannes Anglicus; AD 855–857 was a woman who disguised herself to become secretly involved in church matters (women were not allowed to be priests, of course) and proved so able that she rose up the ranks to become Pope. The best bit of the story, widely believed throughout Europe in the Middle Ages, was that her sex was revealed when she gave birth during a procession. That would do it…
Our usual source for such things is Wikipedia. Do have a look for the full story.
Meanwhile, the whole business spawned a parlour game, first mentioned in eighteenth century documents, called Pope Joan. Again, ‘Google it’ for details. It seems pretty complicated, and had overtones of religious and political bias, but became very popular in the Victorian period. If you want to have a play, used sets are available on ebay…!
Jean and Joan, our ever reliable Social History volunteers, have found a set in our archives…
This is probably a nineteenth century set, possibly early. Chinoiserie became popular in Britain in the eighteenth century, and these counters clearly show an oriental influence.
Josh, from Stonehenge School, completes his contribution to our blog…
As part of my work experience at the Salisbury museum, it has been requested that I write a short blog or piece about a chosen artefact within the museum, some information about it, and why I have chosen it. I hope that you will find this interesting, and that maybe, just maybe, you’ll learn something.
The Amesbury archer is the skeleton of what is believed to be a late Neolithic/early Bronze Age man, estimated to have been around 35-45 years old when he died. He was found buried near the town of Amesbury, along with several fascinating and highly revealing archaeological finds, making his discovery of great importance and relevance. I will summarise these below, only looking over a few of the many finds buried with him.
The Amesbury Archer is believed to be part of what was referred to as the “bell beaker culture”, a late Neolithic social grouping of individuals who were all found to be buried with ceramic beakers, hence their name. Usually they were all buried with one, in what we now believe to have been their customary funeral rite or ceremony. However the Amesbury Archer was different. For you see, he was not buried with just one beaker. Nor two. Not even three. He was found buried with an impressive five beakers, a figure that has only been matched a few times.
This large number of pots is usually taken to indicate a particularly high social status and burial, meaning that whoever the Amesbury Archer was, he was a man of power. The other items buried with him only go to further support this theory.
Alongside the skeleton of this long dead man lay three copper daggers, and two hammered gold hair ornaments, and the importance of these finds cannot be overstated. As of the time of writing, these are the oldest man-made copper or gold items to be found in Britain, and indicate that the art of metal working was slowly coming to the island.
It was an art that many believe the Amesbury Archer had brought with him. Through in-depth isotope analysis of the Archers teeth, we are able to determine that he was not a native to this land, instead originating somewhere in the Alpine region of what is now known as southern Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
suggests that over 4000 years ago, people were beginning to travel long
distances and were spreading the finer arts of forging and metalworking to
Britain, which had for so long been isolated from continental Europe. Indeed,
it is believed from the presence of a black cushion stone and several flint
tools lying amidst his grave that he was a metalworker himself, a position that
would have undoubtedly given him much power and influence in the late Neolithic
society. If this is true, he was one of the men who started the gradual
ushering of the British Isles into the next era.
Other details can be found from his burial. His skeleton was found missing a knee cap, and the growth of the bones on one of his legs indicates that it had been used far more than the other one, suggesting that he only walked using the one leg for most his life, giving him a limp. Yet evidently he flourished, living to a great age relative to those around him.
Why did he travel all these many miles? On what sort of quest was he on? Was he seeking something, or was he fleeing troubles and dangers in his own land? These are unanswerable questions, but to me, really strike home, and are why I find this one exhibit so fascinating.
The Amesbury Archer suggests so much about the changing and evolving civilisation developing in Britain and Europe at the time, and yet gives us so little solid evidence or story that we can work from. We are left with a few fragmentary pieces, frantically trying to use them to make the full picture.
me, this is what history is. A constant struggle to find the stories and tales
of ages past, and to understand the motivations and reasonings behind the
people who shaped the events that have led us up to this moment. The Amesbury
Archer is one of these figures, who can tell us so much about the past, but
still leaving us longing to fill in the gaps.
have not written everything I could have about this subject, and the artefact
and if you want to learn more about this fascinating character, he’s on display
in the Wessex gallery today. And please, when you see him, try to fill in the
gaps for me. Make a new tale. The best thing about history is that there’s
always a new story, and always a new interpretation. I hope you find one that
Amesbury archer exhibit, in the Wessex Gallery, Salisbury museum
Amesbury Archer and the Boscombe Bowman exhibit: Early Bell Beaker burials, A.P
Flint Arrowheads of the British Isles, H Stephen Green
” The best thing about history is that there’s always a new story, and always a new interpretation.” ‘Couldn’t agree more Josh. Thank you.
The full story of Wessex Archaeology’s discovery, excavation, etc of the Amesbury Archer can be read here.
Josh was with us in the summer and shares his experiences with us…
Hello all, my name is Joshua, and I have been doing a week’s work experience here at the Salisbury museum. I come from the Stonehenge school in Amesbury, and I am currently studying for my GCSEs, including one in History, oddly enough. I’ve had a very interesting week, and one that I will almost definitely recommend to one or two friends of mine.
I signed up for a week’s work experience here for a few reasons. Firstly, I enjoy history. It’s the big reason behind the museum, and I am fascinated by the many stories and tales hidden behind the veil of time, and I’ve had a real privilege in order to peak behind the curtain this past week.
Also, I’d never been to the Salisbury museum, and, even better, coming on work experience is free! I’ve spent a long week in the museum browsing through the exhibits (and many of the far more interesting items kept outside of the public eye), and I feel as if I have a far greater depth of knowledge regarding the artefacts on display than if I had just flown by on a quick two hour tour.
Which brings me to one of the main reasons I’ve enjoyed my time here. Everyone just has so much knowledge and passion for the items they curate and catalogue, and there has always been something new to hear or to learn. Even during the long hours cataloguing (man, we did a lot of cataloguing!) a volunteer always would have a fascinating story to tell us about one of the items, and I’d learn something new.
For example, I’ll admit that I have never been much of an artist, or a great art admirer. But actually, I’ve spent a very enjoyable three hours today looking through the archives of Rex Whistler, and surprisingly, it has actually been one of the highlights of this week.
Furthermore, I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to conduct some research on my own. As part of our work experience, we’ve had to write two blogs, one of which you’ll be reading now, another of which will be on an artefact of our choice, in my case one on the famous Amesbury Archer.
For this blog, we have been allowed to conduct our own research, visiting the exhibits and the library, which small size hides a depth and scale that I may never get over. I’ve really enjoyed being able to do my own thing, and searching the dusty tomes and volumes within to find that one sentence which may improve my blog.
I’ve enjoyed viewing the behind the scenes of the museum, and learning about the vast amounts of work that has been put into this museum’s collection. It’s really made me appreciate the efforts of the above mentioned volunteers who have put so much time, passion and care into helping the museum grow and operate.
So, I’d like to say a thank you to all those who have helped improve our work experience this week, and I hope that my inaccurate and sweeping statements in my next blog don’t make you despair for the future. I’ve really enjoyed working here, and I wish you all the best for the future. It’s been a pleasure.
Thank you Josh. We will hear about your research on the Amesbury Archer next week.
In his recent talk to Volunteers about prospects for the museum after our successful NHLF bid, the Director began by referencing his arrival in 2007. It was a time when there was a need, and desire, for change. And it was important to rejuvenate the heart of the museum – the King’s House.
A Masterplan was prepared. A priority was to update the prehistory displays as Stonehenge would have its own new visitors’ gallery after 2013. In July 2014 the Wessex Gallery opened and Part One was complete.
The Salisbury Galleries, meanwhile, date to the 1980s, and also need re-designing.
Conserving the Grade Two listed buildings is vital and potentially expensive. Tiles fall off, leaks and damp are occasionally serious, as a ceiling collapse a few months ago reminded everyone.
Meanwhile, the museum continues to take in new material, including large items such as the Scout car.
A big plus is the recently acquired Hurricane Store’ at Old Sarum but there are still problems, generally, with storage.
The museum needs 45 000 visitors a year to be stable financially. At the moment the annual figure is 30 000. Commercial opportunities are being developed, eg the use of the King’s Room (which also needs updating), but, for example, a lift is needed to make it more accessible.
With NHLF funding, and other monies, the Salisbury Gallery will be re-developed during 2020 – 2022. It may involve revamping rooms and buildings, and Wiltshire Council and Heritage England are supportive of changes to the ground floor but there is much to consider.
Adrian stressed that we have a ‘Round One’ pass only from NHLF at the moment and certain criteria must be met before we gain ‘Round Two’ funding.
And, of course, we need to raise match funding to go with the Lottery grant. Fundraisers have been appointed and staff to fill new posts will follow. Conservation Architects will be needed, designers for interiors, business planners, Quantity Surveyors, etc, etc. In addition a Membership drive is planned.
Onward and upward..but a lot of hard work yet to do!
Milly was with us during the summer and has completed some interesting research around our collection of Beaker peoples’ artefacts.
Beakers are a distinctive form of pot which were popular in Europe and consequently spread to Britain around 4 500 years ago (Malone 2001). Although their specific origin and development is contested (Clarke 1970), it is thought that the pots were adopted in Britain in the later Neolithic (Wessex Gallery). Other trends which coincided with beaker pottery and beaker burials include individualistic burials focused on demonstrating prestige, the development of metal working skills and internationalism resulting in long distance trade (Malone 2001). It was previously thought that the purpose of beakers was to hold beer, however, the general consensus nowadays is that they were for food and non-alcoholic drinks. Malone (2001) even goes as far as to argue that they were more than just a pot, and instead were intimately linked with the social, economic and technological changes of the time.
Various beakers from
Pitt Rivers’ collection. If you look closely you can see the horizontal
decorations which are different on each beaker.
Source: Wessex Gallery.
Beakers came in various styles and decorations which developed and changed over time. Some of the decorations were achieved with cord, finger tips or twigs (Wessex Gallery). The first beakers in Britain are thought to be associated with the Netherlands because they were made from a red clay and had an s-shaped silhouette with a low belly (Malone 2001). Cord and comb was used to decorate these beakers in horizontal patterns (Malone 2001). Later on, beakers became even more decorative and had shorter, wider necks (Malone 2001). Beakers continued to change and from about 2000 to 1700BC they had bulbous, short bodies and practically vertical necks (Malone 2001). This changing of shape and decoration has allowed archaeologists to date beakers with more accuracy.
There were 3 main ways in which beaker burials could differ according to Clarke (1970); orientation, position and type. Below is a diagram from Clarke’s (1970) book which demonstrates the four common positions of the beaker in relation to the body. Although beakers could be prestige ware, general duty ware or heavy duty ware, the form of beaker found in burials tends to be prestige ware (Clarke 1970). Stone (1958) argues that people were buried with beakers so they could use them in the afterlife and so they could provide a sense of identity. Male and female beaker burials also tended to differ (Malone 2001). A typical male beaker burial was most likely a single grave, with the possibility of family being buried nearby, and included shale and jet beads, a copper or bronze awl and weapons like a dagger (Malone 2001). Contrastingly, female beaker burials did not usually contain weapons but had more beads and tools. According to Malone (2001), the contents of one’s grave suggests one’s status and position within the local hierarchy.
A diagram showing the
four main burial positions of a beaker where ‘X’ represents the beaker.
Source: Clarke (1970).
are multiple examples of beaker pottery used in burials in the Wessex Gallery,
the most famous being the Amesbury Archer. Unearthed near Stonehenge, he was a
seminal discovery as it is thought he was one of the earliest beaker burials in
Britain. Interestingly, although most beaker burials only contain one beaker,
the Amesbury Archer had five and the Boscombe Bowmen’s grave which contained
five adult males, one teenager and two children had the remains of eight
beakers (Wessex Gallery). The latter was the largest number of beakers
excavated from a single grave and is an impressive addition to the Wessex
A beaker which was found
in between the knees and feet of a skeleton in Winterslow, alongside a wrist
guard and arrowhead.
D.L. (1970) Beaker Pottery of Great
Britain and Ireland Volume 1 (Cambridge University Press).
D.L. (1970) Beaker Pottery of Great Britain
and Ireland Volume 2 (Cambridge University Press).
C. (2001) Neolithic Britain and Ireland
J.F.S (1958) Wessex Before the Celts
(Thames and Hudson).
Wessex Gallery, Salisbury Museum.
From Encyclopedia Britannica :The Beaker People received their name from their distinctive bell-shaped beakers, decorated in horizontal zones by finely toothed stamps. (Their culture is often called the Bell-Beaker culture.) The graves of the Beaker folk were usually modest single units, though in much of western Europe they often took the form of megalithic tombs. A warlike stock, they were primarily bowmen but were also armed with a flat, tanged dagger or spearhead of copper, and a curved, rectangular wrist guard. Their extensive search for copper (and gold), in fact, greatly accelerated the spread of bronze metallurgy in Europe. Probably originally from Spain, the Beaker folk soon spread into central and western Europe in their search for metals. In central Europe they came into contact with the Battle-Axe (or Single-Grave) culture, which was also characterized by beaker-shaped pottery (though different in detail) and by the use of horses and a shaft-hole battle-ax. The two cultures gradually intermixed and later spread from central Europe to eastern England.
Ed: In fact it is now thought that the Beaker people eventually almost completely replaced the DNA of earlier peoples in England.