Have you ever viewed the museum via YouTube? Try it. Click here for the latest video of exciting things going on (the Lego), then have a look at some more by using your search engine and typing in YouTube Salisbury Museum.
Last week, the museum was pleased to host a talk by Sir Tony Robinson (with a little help from his friends!). Our own Owain Hughes was there and reports back…
Sir Tony has an autobiography out – ‘No Cunning Plan’ – and his talk focused on that, and on his friendship with Sir Terry Pratchett.
He began by describing Sir Terry’s great love of the chalk landscape and invited a certain member of the audience – a great friend of ours, Phil Harding – to explain the origins of this local landscape, and to share a few memories of Time Team digging in it!
Rob Wilkins, Terry’s assistant, business manager and long term friend added to the memories of the writer by describing how the two of them ‘bonded’ – at a book signing when they realised they were both ‘electronic nerds’!
Tony’s links with the writer go back a long way. At an early encounter, Terry was to congratulate Tony on some comedy programmes he had written for Radio Bristol. In subsequent years Tony was to create the audio versions of Terry’s books and played a role, the store manager, in the 2006 film version of Terry’s ‘Hogfather’.
The same year, Tony appeared in Tony Robinson: Me and My Mum, a documentary surrounding his decision to find a nursing home for his mother, and the difficulty he had doing so. In the intervening years he has become a supporter of Alzheimer’s research and charities, which, of course would have been a bond between the two men, as Terry began to suffer himself. When Terry was invited to do the Dimbleby lecture in 2010 he was already struggling with the illness, and while he introduced the lecture, it was Tony who read Terry’s words. It was about death, our attitudes to it and about assisted death. The audience here were very moved when Tony read an abridged version of the lecture at this talk. As indeed visitors have been moved by this aspect of the museum’s exhibition.
Owain shares with us some of the excitement at the end of the talk…
The talk ran over the allotted time and with less than an hour before his train was due to leave, Tony began signing copies of his books for a very long queue of eager fans. He was due to give an interview to the British Forces Broadcasting Service which they managed to do somewhere on the car journey to the station! The next day, he was at the Royal Albert Hall, reading at a carol service.
A busy man. Thank you Sir Tony for your visit and sharing your memories.
One giant LEGO mosaic with 960 tiles and 61,440 bricks
Thirty six volunteers
One hundred and thirty models of ‘The Luggage’ constructed
Four hundred and sixty visitors
The Staff Team
Not quite the Twelve Days of Christmas! BUT we overcame rain inside the marquee, cling filming LEGO in the dark, avoided a storm, managed to keep warm (mostly) and delivered another amazing event to our visitors.
Sincere thanks to you all for everything you contributed towards a wonderful day.
See the finished article in the museum now.
You will be pleased to hear that it has just been announced that we secured £115,360 from the Museum Association’s Esmee Fairbairn Collections Fund to undertake work with young people on our costume collections and displays. This application was put together by Katy England and will obviously be the focus for her work over the next couple of years (from Feb 2018) following up on the excellent HLF Funded City Story Project.
Katy will be working with, amongst others, our NADFAS lady volunteers, on this new project.
See here for more info about the announcement and the other awards made:
A beautiful bronze sculpture, Solstice, has appeared on the front lawn of the museum.
Solstice, by Bridget McCrum RWA FRBS is one of an edition of nine. She writes this, herself, about her work:
“Since childhood I have been excited by ancient remains, fragments of carving and standing in lonely landscapes. My travels have taken me to many sites from different cultures around the Mediterranean. Theses objects, combined with the landscape around my homes in Devon and Gozo, have inevitably worked their way into my sculpture.”
Installation was not without its problems and colleagues worked late into the winter evening…
Have you seen our recent press release?
“Why is The Salisbury Museum going potty? It is because we need to update our loos!
The Salisbury Museum moved into its present home in The King’s House, at the beginning of the 1980’s. The building has been through various incarnations, originally built as a home for the Abbot of Sherborne in the early 13th century; somewhere that James I and Anne of Denmark laid their heads in 1610 and 1613; and from the mid-19th century until the late 1970’s – a teacher training college where Thomas Hardy’s sisters trained. It took some time to turn the building, gallery by gallery, into a museum and destination suitable to receive visitors and in fact, the reinvention never stops. The public toilets, so perfect in 1980 are now in serious need of updating.
The museum is in need of a total of £30,000 to refurbish and improve the accessibility to the Ladies, Gents and Disabled toilets. Launching on 19 November, #WorldToiletDay sees the start of a passionate fundraising campaign, which will also include twinning with a school toilet block in Malawi.
Museum Director, Adrian Green says, ‘Every couple of years our facilities are assessed by Visit England and the one thing that brings our score down each time are the state of our toilets. We can no longer ignore the fact that having top quality loos is as important as top quality exhibitions and an essential part of the visitor experience.’
So whether it is a penny, a pound or quantities of either, the money raised will help the museum to totally transform the toilet facilities into 21st century ones. Visitors can give in person at the museum – look out for the potty donation box, or through the museum’s website, which will link to the crowdfunding campaign created specifically to get the campaign started by raising £10,000. Hopefully by 2018, the museum’s public loos will no longer look like they should be in a museum.”
And have you spotted our magnificent toilet pan popping up in interesting places? Perhaps we should have a competition for the best place to find it…
More about him later. Meanwhile….
After the success of the first Spotlight Loan tour from the Wessex Partnership we have decided to continue with our own spotlight tours. This second series of Spotlight Loans between the four leading museums (Dorset County Museum, The Salisbury Museum, Poole Museum and Wiltshire Museum) will focus on ‘Made in Wessex’. Wessex has been a centre of making for thousands of years. The downland, heathland, rivers and coast of Wessex have shaped the making and use of artefacts, from ancient flints to contemporary ceramics. The new tours will tell the stories of Dorset and Wiltshire focusing on this tradition of making, and reveals some surprising and fascinating objects to illustrate the theme.
Our first spotlight loan will be four examples of Crown Dorset Pottery. The Crown Dorset Art Pottery was established by Charles Collard in Poole in 1905. The pottery produced was very similar to that of the Devon potteries where Collard had previously worked, although Collard also developed new styles.
The pieces you see in the image below are examples of Cottage Ware, produced for the tourist and cheaper end of the market in a range of shapes and sizes. These were usually decorated with country scenes and a motto in Dorset dialect, often quoting the Dorset poet William Barnes.
Between November 2017 and November 2018 you will see the following objects:
Crown Dorset Pottery (Poole Museum)
Dorset Ooser (It’s a mask! Dorset County Museum)
Wiltshire Moonrakers Plate (Wiltshire Museum)
Last week, our Volunteer Co-ordinator Bridge Telfer, went to the British Museum for the week as part of the Knowledge Exchange programme that the British Museum runs. The exchange allows the sharing of knowledge and skills between organisations and in turn organisations gain new ideas and experience. Bridget had a fantastic week at the museum learning how they manage their team of c 600 volunteers! And next week Salisbury Museum is hosting the British Museum’s Volunteer Manager Francesca Goff. Read Bridget and Francesca’s blogs over the next few weeks….
SALOG Volunteers’ Visit to Old Sarum and Stonehenge Visitor Centre
Just before the museum closed for the day one evening in mid-October, I was intrigued to see Professor Mike Parker-Pearson of the Stonehenge Riverside Project deep in conversation with somebody in the café. My curiosity was satiated the following day when watching BBC TV ‘South Today’ during which it was reported that he was due to open a new exhibition at the Stonehenge Visitors Centre, ‘Feast! Food at Stonehenge’, which invites visitors to explore the diet and lifestyle of the people that built Stonehenge; and the culture, rituals and identity of food in prehistory (see photos of reconstructed buildings at Stonehenge, below).
This was the subject of the second part of a SALOG Volunteers social afternoon on Monday 30th October.
On arrival at the Stonehenge Visitors Centre, Volunteers from Salisbury Museum, Wiltshire Museum, English Heritage, the National Trust and Wessex Archaeology were given time to mingle and to enjoy coffee and biscuits before being given a ten minute introduction to the exhibition by the Interpretation Officer, Hannah Brown. We were then allowed to explore the exhibition at leisure.
By way of background, the objective of the Stonehenge Riverside Project was to examine the relationship between the Stonehenge stones and surrounding monuments and features, including the River Avon, Durrington Walls, the Cursus, the Avenue, Woodhenge, and various burial mounds, and nearby standing stones. The main aim of the project was to test the hypothesis that Stonehenge was a monument dedicated to the dead, whilst Woodhenge & Durrington Walls, two miles away, were monuments to the living and more recently deceased.
It is believed that the builders of Stonehenge settled in nearby Durrington Walls in the 25th century B.C. and excavations of this site have revealed an abundance of food waste, stone tools and pottery, which are thus available for analysis.
From these artifacts, scientists have been able to show that our ancestors were bringing animals from as far away as Scotland, some 500 miles away, suggesting that Stonehenge was an important site known right across Britain at this time, and that people were travelling these sorts of distances in order to participate both in the building of the monument, which occurred in several phases, and in midwinter feasts. Some discussion ensued as to the logistics of driving animals these distances, and the time it would take.
As a chemist, I was particularly interested in the techniques used to establish these facts. For example, animal bones can be identified by inspection and it is clear that our Neolithic ancestors at Stonehenge were deriving meat from a variety of sources: cattle, pigs, sheep and goats. The distances travelled were established by analysing the ratios of strontium isotopes in their teeth by the technique of Liquid Chromatography-Mass Spectroscopy. Strontium compounds, which mimic calcium compounds and therefore enter animals’ teeth, are present in the soil and enter the animals through the food chain. The particular ratios of strontium isotopes identified reflect the underlying geology where the animal once lived. As a chemist and, latterly a chemistry teacher, I was impressed by the clarity of the diagrams used to illustrate these points, and would have been delighted to have had this example and diagram illustrate this analytical technique (Fig 1).
Another point of interest for me was the fact that Neolithic people were lactose-intolerant, and had to turn milk into products such as cheese and yoghurt before consumption (Fig 2 below):
This reminded me of a particularly popular experiment I devised for Key Stage 3 Science students, where we used rennet to curdle milk to make junket. We flavoured the product with strawberries and were able to consume it afterwards, having taken appropriate H&S precautions during the preparation. Again, this would have been a useful illustration to have used at the time.
Earlier there was a visit to the inner bailey at Old Sarum.
Being only a mile from my home I am very familiar with this site. Nevertheless, some new things were brought to my attention, for example a ‘mason’s mark’ on a stone block in the east range of the courtyard house (Fig 3).
A question was asked and some discussion ensued about the little-known tunnel which once existed through the northern rampart, the site of which is still visible (Fig 4).
The English Heritage ‘Old Sarum’ guidebook tells us that this tunnel was first discovered in 1795. This discovery was recorded in the ‘Gentleman’s Magazine’ of February 2nd, 1795. Following this, the tunnel was much visited by members of the public for several years before being re-sealed in 1822.
The tunnel was re-excavated in 1957 by the Ministry of Public Buildings and Works (now Department of the Environment) assisted by members of the archaeology section of the Salisbury and District Field Club, including Davids Algar, Sanders and Truckle, during which, among other things, examples of dated 18th Century obscene Anglo-Saxon graffiti were found.
Nobody is quite sure who built this tunnel, or for what reason. Its construction was apparently beyond the skills of Iron Age Man, but various people have speculated that it was built by the Romans or the Normans. One theory, which was also that espoused by our EH Guide during this visit, is that it was a ‘sally-port’ to enable an enemy force to be attacked from the rear or, if the city were besieged, to provide a means of escape from it.
A fuller description of this tunnel and the 1957 excavation can be found in The [Salisbury] Journal of 13th October, 1988, ‘’Old Sarum’s Secret Tunnel’ .
By Volunteer Alan Crooks Monday 30th October 2017
Believe it – this special story is worth reading to the very end!
In February 2017, a documentary was aired detailing the life of my favourite author; Sir Terry Pratchett. Little did I know that after the airing of “Terry Pratchett: Back in Black” that a special announcement would be made. Fans were being given a wonderful gift; an insight in to Terry’s life and this gift was being presented as an exhibition at the Salisbury Museum.
To consider myself a fan is a bit of an understatement; to be frankly honest, Terry’s writing saved my life. I was already a fan of the Discworld and had read through the series a number of times. I live with depression, anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Whilst I live with these conditions I manage them well and am considered high functioning. I’ve even been able to go without medication for a few years now and keep myself on track with regular visits to my psychologist and GP.
An event 5 years ago triggered a relapse and my world crashed down around me. I was so down and the world was bleak, bland and in my mind, tomorrow didn’t exist. I would stare out my window for hours waiting for the time to pass or I passed the time by sleeping. When thought finally made its way through the thick and sticky emotions I was feeling at the time I was able to make one small decision; read. Go back to the Disc and just read. With each page I was able to make a reconnect with myself even if it wasn’t for long. The series kept me going, and again being frankly honest, stopped me from “checking out”.
I have so much love for the Disc and its characters, that I have a full tattoo sleeve dedicated to it. All my favourite characters from Samuel Vimes to Granny Weatherwax to Death. I estimate between 50 and 54 hours of tattoo time was spent creating my Discworld sleeve. My sleeve is an ode and dedication to Terry, to his Discworld and to his characters. As well as to Paul Kidby and his amazing artwork. The characters mean much to me and my own world that I need them with me, always. If I’m having a bad day I can look down and smile and also be reminded of each character’s strengths.
So the announcement was made, ‘Terry Pratchett: HisWorld’ was coming to the Salisbury Museum in September 2017. Originally, I pushed it aside as a little pipe dream. Curiosity took hold when my mum showed me the Facebook post about the exhibition. Opening day was 7 months away. I started looking at flights. I knew that if I put all the savings I already had and cut back on a few spending habits that the trip was doable. The next day I went in to work and submitted my annual leave form. I had 5 weeks of annual leave available and hadn’t had a proper holiday in years. I asked for 4 weeks and they said no – the company had a new client coming on board and they didn’t know what to expect. After a bit of back and forth I was able to get two weeks leave approved.
When I was evaluating my life and the trip, what I wanted to see, do and experience, I realised that I wouldn’t be able to do this with two weeks of annual leave. I was coming from a coastal suburban town about an hour south of Melbourne, Australia. That’s almost 17,000kms (10,500 miles) and a few thousand Australian dollars. Our conversion rate isn’t very strong against the British Pound (we’re currently sitting at 59 pence for every Aussie Dollar) so if I was going to spend the money for an adventure of a lifetime I was going to spend it well! So I resigned from my job of almost 6 years and decided to extend my trip to the four weeks I originally requested.
The plane journey was nice enough; let’s face it, no one likes being cooped up in a small space without much leg room. My flight left from Melbourne around 9.40pm on Wednesday 13 September. The first leg of the journey was about 14 hours. A short stopover in Doha and I was on another plane bound for London. Another 7 and a half hours and I arrived in London at 12pm on Thursday 14 September.
Jet lag had hit me pretty hard that day. Not only was I tired but I was also a bit dizzy. It felt like the earth was moving from under my feet. I was up every hour or so that night and I was in a very noisy part of town. The night was filled with the sounds of trains and, this surprised me the most, emergency sirens. All night. It seemed like as soon as one stopped another would start. Because these sirens sound different to the ones at home and I didn’t know which siren was which. It made me feel very scared and unsafe. I hadn’t been there for very long at all and I was already feeling very uneasy about London.
My fears were heightened the next morning when I awoke to a message from my mum asking me where I was and if I was ok. The Parsons Green terror attack had just occurred. At that time it was being broadcast as an ‘incident’ with more information to come. I spent my time trying to find any information I could but everything was quite vague. I wasn’t keen to be catching a train an hour or so after I heard the news. Thankfully though, my train was still running and I was on my way to Salisbury.
The national rail trains are quite nice. I was super impressed that it had free Wifi. I was able to keep in touch with my mum and other friends who had heard about the London attack. I was surprised to see a snacks cart come through the carriages. We do have national rail services but because Australia is so large most people opt to go on a scenic road trip or fly. The journey was about an hour and half – this is about the same time it takes for me to get to Melbourne from my home town.
The day I arrived I went in search of the museum. I wanted to make sure I knew exactly where I was going because the next day was opening day and I did not want to get lost! Walking through the town on my way to the museum I came to the Cathedral. Oh my goodness! I had to crane my neck just to see the top. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a structure of that magnitude before. It just towers over you with its brilliance!
Opening day finally arrived! Months of planning and saving and it was finally here. I arrived a few minutes before opening and there were already a few people waiting in line. Rob Wilkins officially opened the exhibition. We passed through the museum shop and in to the exhibition. Seeing the His World entrance artwork which I believe is the cover art of the Terry Pratchett’s Imaginarium artwork book coming out in November was so exciting. I was about to cross the threshold in to HisWorld. I was going to see things that belonged to Terry. I was going to see a recreation of his office. I was going to see original artwork by Paul Kidby and Josh Kirby. I was going to be in super fan heaven! And I most certainly was.
See Shannan’s video here. More next week….
17 October 2017