(…or, “The Conversation Went Something Like This!”)
Peacocks with feathers,
Boar's head on a plate.
Pies full of minced meat.
Is that all they ate?
Swans, hams and jellies,
Spiced ale - that sounds good!
And biscuits and sweetmeats..
Is that Tudor food?
Remember this banquet
Is fit for a King.
It's not peas and pottage,
It's all Tudor bling
We won't admit feta
But blocks of hard cheese
Look very appealing
When spread out on leaves!
It must look realistic
But cannot be real.
It's got to be fake
With real Tudor feel!
Don't worry, we'll Google it,
Check it all out.
We'll make it authentic
So there is no doubt.
Volunteer Mary Crane waxes lyrical to tell the story of the conversation which kicked off the Tudor Christmas.
If you have been in to the museum recently you will have seen it beginning to be transformed, forward in time to Christmas, and back to Tudor times.
Volunteers are in the museum each morning, before opening time, to start putting the decorations up. Sophia Sample and Sally Brown have been paramount in creating the green swags, table and window decorations. Mary Crane and an enormous team of stitchers have produced Tudor Roses which now find their moment, as you can see…
Saturday 14 December.
Not to be missed!
On Monday (25 November) I was delighted to be able to attend a ‘Collections in Focus’ talk given by Simon Cleggett, Project Manager at Wessex Archaeology.
Entitled ’Echoes of the Voices from WW1: The Larkhill 300’, this concerned the exciting and varied discoveries made at Larkhill, Bulford and Tidworth for the Army Basing Programme, whereby some 30,000 troops and their families will need to be accommodated following their return to the UK. The archaeological investigation has entailed stripping some 33 hectares of land back to the bare chalk, revealing artefacts dating from the Early Neolithic to modern ‘conflict archaeology’ pertaining to World War 1.
Click here to read more about Wessex Archaeology’s excavations
Among the early Neolithic finds was a causewayed enclosure which is, in fact, the closest causewayed enclosure to Stonehenge yet found, and dates to about 900 years pre-Stonehenge Phase 1. Thus it’s not too fanciful to consider that the people involved in its construction may have been involved in the conceptualisation of the future Stonehenge. There are just over 80 causewayed enclosures in the UK and they are thus fairly rare.
As a scientist (albeit a chemist, but I did once study ‘A’Level zoology) I was intrigued to learn that (being Caprinae) sheep and goats are anatomically uncannily very similar – almost identical. Hence distinguishing between the two requires outstanding observational skills and extensive practice. This has been quite problematic archaeologically, and archaeologists refer to such skeletons as sheep-goats. (This reminded me of how embarrassed I once was when having a lift home from work with a colleague. Noticing a large number of animals in a field, I exclaimed, “Blimey, look at all those goats!” He fell about laughing and said, ”Those are not goats, they’re sheep that have recently been shorn”!). I now don’t feel quite so foolish.
In terms of ‘Conflict Archaeology’, Larkhill turns out to be the largest WW1 practice battlefield ever excavated. It was very poignant that, occurring during 2016-2017, the excavations occurred during the centenary of WW1 itself. This did not go unnoticed by the archaeologists on site. The excavations revealed WW1 practice trenches and tunnels, the entrances of which had graphitic graffiti of soldiers (rank, name and number) who were training there, and whose families may therefore be traceable. There were 400 pieces of graffiti pertaining to 300 names, this inspiring the title of Simon’s talk.
It is anticipated that the many artefacts found during these excavations will eventually be housed in Salisbury Museum.
Thank you Alan, as always.
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.
Monday 25 November: Collections in Focus talk
Simon Cleggett, from Wessex Archaeology, will be giving a fascinating talk entitled ‘Wonderful things: the army basing programme and the Stonehenge Landscape’. This is a repeat of the wonderful talk that Simon gave at this year’s Festival of Archaeology. For five years, Wessex Archaeology has excavated Bulford, Larkhill and Tidworth in preparation for the Army Basing Programme. International media has followed the discovery of henges, a causewayed enclosure, Neolithic pits, prehistoric burials, Anglo Saxon burial grounds, a WWI practice battlefield and WWII anti-tank devices. Simon’s talk details the revelation of some truly wonderful things.
There is no need to RSVP for either the above talk. Please just turn up on the day.
I recall the excited reaction of those who attended this talk at ArchFest in July. A brilliant speaker and thoughtful and sensitive archaeologist… If you didn’t hear Simon speak then, grab this opportunity next month.
Amongst our Costume Collection are a variety of dress accessories, including handbags…
They all have a story; fashions may have changed, but most early examples are just beautiful to look at. And knowing how they were made is sometimes jaw dropping!
We will explore some of the stories, and who were the famous owners of some of the bags, another time. Meanwhile, enjoy a sample.
All these bags and purses date to the mid 19th century and are therefore nearly two hundred years old. This one was manufactured in such a way as to have a three dimensional pattern on it. This isn’t printed fabric, there are rectangular cells all over the surface.
This gloriously blue bag has an outer ‘shell’ created from thread made from grasses!
This elegant bag is velvet and the foliate decoration is made of tiny slivers of horn.
And finally for today, an ingenious purse. It is made up fabric cut and sewn in a single sausage shape, with sliding rings which can form and separate and keep secure, two pouches for coins. It could be held in a simple way, in the hand, wrapped around the wrist, or tucked into a belt. Why doesn’t someone re-invent it for youngsters who don’t know what to do with their handbags on the dance floor…?
Thank you to the Costume ladies, who promise more on this later.
Costume Project Volunteers are invited to come along for a project catch-up and tea, coffee and cake on:
Wednesday 20 November from 2pm til 3.30pm.
Katy England would like to discuss the exciting next steps with the ‘Look Again; Discovering Centuries of Change’ project. There will also be an opportunity to discuss other costume cataloguing issues.
Please can you let Bridget know if you are able to attend.
Adrian Green, Director, will be giving a talk ‘Salisbury Museum for Future Generations: Heritage Fund Success’ on Thursday 17 October and Tuesday 22 October at 10.30am, and there will be coffee and cake too!
The future of the museum is important to us all and the exciting plans to develop the museum after our successful bid to NLHF will affect all Volunteers. This will be an opportunity to share thoughts and ideas as well as hear plans.
No need to RSVP – just come along.