You are currently browsing the monthly archive for January 2015.

Sword pommel
Manx National Heritage/John Caley
Discover Britain reports that –
Parts of a Viking sword, glass beads, bronze pins and iron nails from a Viking ship burial are amongst items that will be on loan for a new exhibition opening on 20 March 2015 at Falmouth’s National Maritime Museum Cornwall. Nationally and internationally historically significant items will be on display during the two-year exhibition, which aims to show the Vikings as a maritime culture rather than an ethnic group. Visitors to the museum will be able to discover what is behind the popular myth of the bloodthirsty raiders, what it meant to be a Viking and how their mastery of maritime technology was the secret to their success.
More here.
Beginning on the 23 April, and running through to 2 August 2015, the British Museum will be hosting an exhibition  focusing on the remarkable story of one of the world’s oldest continuing cultures –
The show will be the first major exhibition in the UK to present a history of Indigenous Australia through objects, and will celebrate the cultural strength and resilience of both Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders. This culture has continued for over 60,000 years in diverse environments which range from lush rainforest and arid landscapes to inland rivers, islands, seas and urban areas today. Hundreds of different Indigenous groups live across this vast continent, each with their own defined areas, languages and traditions.
Indigenous Australians developed sustainable ways of living from the land and sea using objects of great beauty and efficiency. From the deadly precision of a boomerang to bags and baskets for carrying water and food – essential for survival – these objects require supreme skill to design and make. In the exhibition, examples of practical objects such as spear-throwers (the ‘Swiss Army knife of the desert’) will sit alongside magnificent works of art, such as Uta Uta Tjangala’s Yumari (1981) – a masterpiece now featured on the Australian passport. The oldest continuing art tradition in the world, Aboriginal art tells stories of the great ancestral beings who created the land and the people, and gave the law and lessons for living which still continue today. In contrast, the objects from the Torres Strait Islands reflect the centrality of the sea and its creatures to the Islanders’ beliefs and way of life, including spectacular turtle-shell masks used in ceremonies before the arrival of Christian missionaries. Together, the objects in the exhibition will give an overview of Indigenous Australian culture throughout the continent, both remote and urban.
More here.
The Essex County Council Headquarters
The Heritage Trust
Nearly a year ago, a passer-by in Chelmsford, Essex, England happened to glance up at a couple of sculptured stones above the entrance to Essex County Council’s Headquarters. Standing there, and looking at the stones more carefully, he was astonished to see that they bore motifs of left- and right-facing swastikas (also known as the gammadion cross or cross cramponnée). Using a freedom of information request, lodged with Essex County Council, the (unnamed) passer-by wanted to know why the ‘potentially offensive and upsetting’ symbols were on the Essex County Council building. Good question.
According to its English Heritage listing, the building, bearing the swastikas, was built by J Stuart of Portland stone between 1929 and 1939. English Heritage describes the building as having an “imposing external architectural quality”. It is understood the swastikas were added between 1928 and before the outbreak of World War II in 1939. The person requesting the information said the timing of the swastika symbols “…struck me as strange seeing as the Nazi party formed in 1933 and by March 1938 were beginning an invasion into Austria.”
Architect J Stuart must surely have know of the swastika’s use by the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (formed in 1920 with Hitler as one of its chairmen) but it was to be nearly twenty years before the outbreak of the second World War in 1939 and the subsequent hatred the swastika motif was to generate. The motifs in Chelmsford may, therefore, have been incorporated into the facade of the building as purely innocent embellishments, if not recognition of the sacred and auspicious symbols they are afforded in  Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism. Indeed, according to the Wikipedia entry here the motif “…appears as a decorative element in various cultures since at least the Neolithic…”
Swastika motif on the stone porch of St Mary’s Church, Great Canfield, Essex
The Heritage Trust
That is not quite the end of the story however as there is another example of the use of the swastika in Essex. On the stone porch of St Mary’s Church at Great Canfield there is a short frieze employing the swastika motif. To the left of the frieze is a face (possibly depicting Odin) with two birds (Huginn and Muninn?) at either side. St Mary’s is a classical Norman church built between 1100 and 1150 but may have been built on the site of an earlier church (hence the pagan motifs). During the war it would have been so easy (even understandable) for someone, like our Chelmsford passer-by, to demand the removal of the Great Canfield swastikas on the grounds that they were offensive. History is never that clear cut however; it is a tapestry added to over centuries, faded in places and with holes in others, and we should be ever wary of pulling it down when it seems to offend, or does not quite fit in, with our present perceptions of the world around us.
Stonehenge by Henry Mark Anthony (1817-1886)
There will be a lecture by Sharon Soutar of English Heritage at Devizes Town Hall, Wiltshire, England from 2:30 pm on Saturday, 31 January 2015.
With the construction of the new Visitor Centre at Airman’s Corner it was vital that Stonehenge and its surrounding landscape were re-presented with the fullest and most up-to-date information available. Fantastic as it may seem very few of the monuments, not even Stonehenge itself, had been surveyed to modern standards. To rectify this English Heritage set up a project to significantly enhance the record and understanding of all upstanding archaeological monuments within the World Heritage Site. The fieldwork was conducted between 2009 and 2012 and the book is nearing publication, while a number of research reports on the different areas are available through the website here.
More here.

The 9th century Alfred Jewel depicting either Alfred the Great or Christ
Image credit the Ashmolean Museum

The Alfred Jewel was found in a peat bog in North Petherton, Somerset, England in 1693 but has been kept at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford since 1718. North Petherton is about eight miles from where King Alfred the Great founded a monastery at Athelney. The Jewel is made of rock crystal, enamel and gold and bears the inscription, in Old English, AELFRED MEC HEHT GEWYRCAN (Alfred Ordered Me Made). It is thought to have been one of several commissioned by King Alfred and once formed the top of a pointer used for reading or translating manuscripts.

Now, for the first time in nearly 300 years, the Alfred Jewel will return to Somerset where it will be on display at The Museum of Somerset from 31 January to 28 February 2015. Talks by two leading Anglo-Saxon experts will take place during the exhibition period. One by Professor Simon Keynes of Cambridge University on 11 February and the other by Leslie Webster of the British Museum on 25 February.



Artist impression of the seventh century Koyamada Burial Mound Moat
Image credit the Archaeological Institute of Kashihara

Kazuto Tsukamoto, Staff Writer for the Asahi Shimbun, reports last week that archaeologists in Japan have unearthed the remains of a possible mid-seventh century imperial burial mound (kofun 古墳). The remains of the Koyamada Mound were discovered on the site of a school in the Askua area of Nara Prefecture, central Japan. Asuka was one of the early capitals of Japan before being relocated to Nara and then Kyoto (see our earlier feature, Asuka, Japan: An introduction to its megalithic sites).

“The mound is highly likely the first burial site of Emperor Jomei (593-641), described in the ‘Nihon Shoki’ (The Chronicles of Japan) as the place where his body rested until it was later transferred to another location,” said Fuminori Sugaya, the director of the Archaeological Institute of Kashihara, Nara Prefecture. The researchers made the estimate based on the ruin’s location, size and unique construction method.

The excavation site contains what is believed to be part of a moat lined with boulders along one of its slopes, according to the researchers. The remnants of the moat measures 48 meters in length and 3.9 to 7 meters in width. While 40-centimeter quartz diorite boulders line the northern slope of the moat, the bottom is covered with stones measuring 15 cm to 30 cm. The southern slope is covered with flagstones made of two-step chlorite schist that are topped with special flagstones known as “Haibara,” a type of rhyolite stone, stacked in a staircase pattern. The total number of steps in some areas is 10.

Full Asahi Shimbun article here.


Six students from De Montfort University take part in the Crytek Off the Map project. The project involved building a 3D representation of 17th century London before The Great Fire.

The British Museum’s new state-of-the-art World Conservation and Exhibitions Centre
Alice Fishburn, writing in the Financial Times, reports on the British Museum’s new state-of-the-art Conservation and Exhibitions Centre –
The improbably large centre, slotted between classical buildings, resituates conservation at the heart of the museum. It also unites a team that was previously spread out across London, housing scientists, stone experts, organic specialists and more under one roof. “We’ve got two studios next to each other that used to be 5km apart  . . . Over a cup of tea people bounce ideas off each other and it’s brilliant. Everything they say about open plan is true,” says David Saunders, keeper of the department of conservation and scientific research.
Inside the stone conservation studio, staffers are still blinking in their newly acquired daylight. “That’s the one thing we’ve never had,” says Tracey Sweek, senior conservator. “The history of conservation for us has always been in sub-basements or basements. We’ve had windows but they were so frosted or barred that it didn’t really give us any daylight.” They now have floor-to-ceiling glass — the ceilings high enough to accommodate the loftiest of sculptures and the floor capable of supporting several tons of marble.
Tours of the facilities will open for booking later in 2015. This programme and the WCEC are supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Full Financial Times feature here. See also the British Museum’s feature here, and our earlier feature on the Centre here.
The Saldyar Valley in the Altai Mountains of southern Siberia were archaeologists have discovered a stunning alfresco gallery of prehistoric art
The Siberian Times
Will Stewart, writing for the MailOnline, reports on the stunning prehistoric art that has been discovered by archaeologists in the Altai Mountains of Siberia –
Archaeologists in Siberia have begun uncovering an extraordinary alfresco gallery of prehistoric art high in the 4,506-metre tall Altai Mountains. While the region is famed for petroglyphs (rock engravings), new finds are being made in the hidden and rarely-visited Saldyar valley, close to the fast-flowing Katun River. Here beneath the densely-wooded slopes they are discovering remarkable rock pictures dating back 5,000 years, close to Russia’s border with China and Mongolia.
The Altai Mountains in southern Siberia are one of the great undiscovered tourist destinations, featuring breathtaking lakes and peaks, with many signs of the ancient lost world, such as burial mounds, standing stones and the exhibition of petroglyphs, many from the Bronze and Iron ages. Many of the carvings are found on rocks that form a symbolic rock garden, with the sun’s beams helping to illuminate the artistic work and making them appear similar to photograph negatives. According to Altai legend, the location of these megaliths was a result of the mythical hero Sartaksakpay, who is said to have jokingly changed the direction of the rivers and scattered the mountain valleys with huge rocks.
Archaeologists studying the petroglyphs found that the ancient artists had several favourite images, including the Siberian mountain goat, which has always been seen as a symbol of success and good luck as well as being good hunting prey. Another of the most popular images at Saldyar is the long horned bull, a symbol of a bygone era that once roamed in Ancient Egypt, Mycenaean Greece and Central Asia.
Full MailOnline article here.
Some of the Anglo-Saxon coins from a hoard found on Buckinghamshire farmland last December The coins are presently being cleaned, conserved and examined in the British Museum conservation laboratories
Portable Antiquities Scheme
At the beginning of the year we ran a feature on the exciting Hoard of more than 5,000 Anglo-Saxon silver coins found just before Christmas, 2014, in a Buckinghamshire field by a metal detectorist. On the scene at the time was the Finds Liaison Officer for the area, Ros Tyrrell, whose account of the find can be read on the Culture24 website here.
The coins are now being cleaned and conserved at the British Museum. Meanwhile, Ms Tyrrell is reported as saying, on Culture 24, that, “It’s an exceptional find – one of the biggest in the country. It’s the biggest hoard of any sort in Buckinghamshire. The [Buckinghamshire County Museum in Aylesbury] would like to acquire them for the people of Buckinghamshire. Whether we can afford them is another matter.”
We hope that at least some of the coins will eventually be on display in Buckinghamshire. Meanwhile, a big ‘well done’ to Ms Tyrrell, and all present on the day, not to mention the dedication of the British Museum conservators and curators whose task it now is to clean, conserve and research this extraordinary find.

Text and images © Roy Goutté

King Arthur’s Hall, Bodmin Moor, Cornwall

After many previous visits to King Arthur’s Hall on King Arthur’s Down to the North-West of Bodmin Moor in Cornwall and a few Heritage Trust articles later, I thought a further visit, but this time with a Cornish group of dowsers, would be of interest to readers.

A very well-known group are the West Cornwall Dowsers led by Bart O’Farrell, a well respected and experienced Cornish dowser, so I knew if they accepted my invitation to make a site visit a thorough and enlightening investigation would take place. This was something I was really looking forward to with relish. Alternative views are something one should always take into account, or most certainly be prepared to consider at least on sites of particular interest and intrigue as one can get very set and focused in their ways and see only what you want to see or believe, rather than a fuller or somewhat different picture. Surely there is nothing worse than a closed or cynical mind not prepared to at least listen to what others may have to say, then when they do, ridicule their findings if they disagree.

I asked Bart if he would be prepared, along with a few of his members, to visit the Hall with myself and another well-known figure from Tintagel, Susan Hockey, as members of the TimeSeekers archaeological group to observe. Susan owns and runs the Cornish Heritage Safaris tour service and sometimes carries out tours to King Arthur’s Hall and other places on Bodmin Moor, and of course all interesting areas of Cornwall down to the far west. Having a passing interest in the art of dowsing herself, Susan was keen to gain more knowledge that she could maybe pass on to her tour customers. A pair of dowsing rods are always on hand during her tours, and in certain special locations even the most sceptical participant has been known to see and feel results.

And so, on the 2nd November 2014 we all met up and made our way to the Hall. Bart brought with him fellow members Andy Norfolk, Alan Gilbert, Bob Bailey and Peter Hartwell. All are experienced dowsers and I had one or two questions already lined up to ask them once they were underway.

Bart O’Farrell getting his first feel of King Arthur’s Hall

We gathered initially on the southern bank of the hall as it gives a good vantage point over the whole enclosure. The dowsers then stepped into the enclosure itself and moved around independently of each other. Without prompting, I was asked what I would like to know?

As my previous articles on King Arthur’s Hall written for the Trust suggest (please see King Arthur’s Hall, King Arthur’s Hall: A new discovery? and King Arthur’s Hall Update) I am convinced the enclosure is a special place and not as simple as just a medieval animal pound as suggested by others. The large upright stones and raised bank surrounding them are more complicated a structure than would be required for animals. The internal area is always wet. Could this tendency to flooding have happened after an animal pound had been built? It is much more than that, but what exactly, as no major excavations or dating has taken place here?

So, I began by asking if the enclosure was a mortuary enclosure that contained buried human remains, either in skeletal form or cremations? Without exception the answer was a definite NO by all of them, it was not a mortuary enclosure or graveyard!

Susan commented that tour participants were fascinated by King Arthur’s Hall. “They want to know why more is not known about it and will an archaeological excavation ever take place. But, I like the air of mystery. When I bring people here they always ask what it is. But I always ask people what they think, before suggesting possibilities and I don’t tell them immediately about the Arthurian name. Suggestions such as a swimming pool, sports arena, meeting place, place of judgement have come up.” Susan asked the dowsers if the two large stones in the middle of the West bank represented a ‘king’ and ‘queen’? They replied not, but that those stones were attracting energy, passing between them. When she asked the dowsers about the corners and the gaps between stones, they explained that they felt the North East corner was an important entry point, with a flow of people arriving from the Rough Tor direction.

Susan continued, “I read that the stones represent the back of the knight’s chairs, but of course we all know Arthur had a round table…and what if the name is significant? What if Arthur’s sword was offered to the spring, or found in the spring?” She also pointed out that she didn’t agree with the animal pound theory either! Bart explained about an energy flow that went around the site with the North South sides of the stones set in a regular pattern.


Peter Hartwell gets down to work

Susan holding court (and our jammy doughnuts) during the lunch break

I asked if it was a ceremonial or ritual site. The response to this question was rather mixed, so they settled on it being for a more spiritual use. The other big puzzle here of course is the water that is always lying in the central area of the ‘pond’ whether it be winter or the height of summer. We have often wondered if the monument was purposely built over a rising spring and if so, was that the reason for its being? The reply was unanimous this time…it was! “Its reason for being was the spring which is still active.” replied Bart. “We noticed the behaviour of the two Labrador dogs (Susan’s Magic and Mystery)….they loved it, chasing each other over the energetic spring. It is toward the northern end…south is where the moss is and they didn’t go there.”

Mystery and Magic, Susan’s lovely Labradors

In some ways this supports what I was saying earlier, that you get your own ideas in your head and can easily overlook the obvious. Of course the dogs were tearing around like mad things, but only over the ‘wet’ end, the rest being totally ignored and I never considered that once even though I have always considered myself as being observant! On the other hand, like certain other breeds, Labradors are known for their love of water.

The boys walked over every inch of the site and it was fascinating to see how they went about their business. My knowledge of dowsing is very limited and I always assumed you had to walk over the area you were seeking things out to get a ‘reading’. This is not always the case as I noticed they often stood on a spot and ‘asked’ what lay ahead of them, not what was directly underfoot. Again, I always thought the rods reacted to ‘something’ underground as you passed over it, but it seemed to me that the rods reacted when a question was ‘asked’ in their heads, not audibly!

And boy oh boy didn’t the rods react as well. There didn’t seem to be any slow movements where the rods casually crossed over while you held your breath, they sort of snapped into place in an instant. Like a typical sceptic (which I’m not) I was watching their hands intently to see if the rods were given any ‘assistance’, but they weren’t. It was fascinating to watch and being inside the enclosure with the banks protecting us from any wind that was about, the possibility of wind moving the rods was kept to a minimum.

Andy Norfolk, author of Secret Cornwall: Bodmin Moor and its Environs, begins his investigation inside the enclosure

At the end of the day this is what the dowsers were able to reveal based on their findings:-

King Arthurs Hall, King Arthur’s Downs, Bodmin Moor (SX12967765). Visited 2nd November 2014.

This is a large rectangular enclosure at the top of a hill on a North-South alignment, with 56 flat slab stones on the inside of the banks still visible. The rectangular centre, due to a spring, is mostly wet with reeds and to the south it has rising sphagnum moss.

The view to the north-west is highlighted by Rough Tor and Brown Willy with the large Fernacre Stone circle beneath them. It was not an animal pound, neither would it ‘work’ as one. Sheep would suffer with foot rot and cattle would destroy the base, as would ponies after a short while. At least it’s safe to say that would be the assumption of a countryman.

It was not ‘a place for the dead’, i.e. a Neolithic graveyard. Neither was it ‘roofed’, or a ‘swimming pool’ or a ‘let’s eat and get drunk’ meeting hall. Its reason for being was the spring which is still active! We noticed the behaviour of the two Labrador dogs….they loved it, chasing each other over the energetic spring. The spring is more to the northern end, south is where the moss is, and they didn’t go there.

It was a happy, communal site. It was for families, not just the elders. ‘Meditation’, and ‘sanctuary’ came to mind. You would be ‘still’ and ‘safe’ here. A good spot is a good spot. Erected between 3,100-3,500 (earliest) BCE. (This depends on different dowsers and from which area they were doing the dating from). Nobody actually got 3,500 but 3,100-3200 BCE came up most. In active use for about 900 years, so, Neolithic to early Bronze Age.

Order of building. Scoop out the earth from the centre to form the banks would of course come first. Paving laid on southern end and you may have the bedrock floor on the north (there is a difference in the flora). The flat slab upright banking stones last. These stones were interesting in themselves, different heights, and where they were positioned. All were as dead as a gatepost, unlike stones in circles. Standing Menhirs all have ‘intention’ in them and energetically transmit at 7 levels. These didn’t, they are just flat brought-in moor stones. Possibly back-rests for sitting people? Well, it’s a thought. Why go beyond that? Largest for the elders, smallest for the children? Why not a simple explanation? If you were sitting there for a time, wouldn’t you like a back-rest? The clockwise energy of the site comes from the banking. People naturally walk around stone circles in a observable clockwise direction, i.e. following the sun. So do cattle feeding in a field. This was enhanced by the Megalithic builders, by using the stone`s magnetic North/South memory, and placing them N/S, N/S, N/S alongside each other. Much like a car “alternator”. You can tell when a restored circle has a stone wrongly placed back to front, because it breaks the rythym (e.g. Nine Maidens Circle on Penwith Moors, N/S, S/N, N/S…’s a break in the magnet field).

North side, the outside banking contained a number of later cremations (Iron Age?) only a few on the outer south side. The settlements the site serviced were to the North, and we have the North East corner as originally the main entrance.

We think that the area of low level water was never high, only ankle deep. Could have to do with sun and moon reflection and all of us got a strong September/October usage of the site. The Autumn equinox sunset acutely visible from there. The North/South alignment meant the Summer Solstice could be observed, sunrise, sunset from saddle ‘notches’ in the distant hills, plus the midday sun passing over the water, and we today now think they celebrated midday as well…..and what of the winter Solstice Moon, over that water?

The question was raised, was the site Ceremonial, Ritual, Religious, and/or Spiritual? Well, those words had different meanings to each us, so we settled for more Spiritual. And water was its reason for being. Also, a solstice/equinox observation site. Rather magical in its day.

Postscript :-

The early Islamic scientists used to study the sun by observing it in water reflections…pools, ponds, oasis. Didn’t damage their eyes so much. What science did our ancients know that we have forgotten and are still forgetting? Water is also regularly used as a means of “Scrying” and “Divination”.

The Arthurian Connection, A comment worthy of passing on, although the site is much earlier than Arthur’s time (500 CE), that mirror of water and the seating, would have made a wonderful “Round Table”, and around that time, 530-540 CE, there was considerable Comet activity in the skies. Just a thought….a good site, is a good site.

Our Group will return to explore in the Spring of 2015 the sites to the south of KAH. Very strong energetic pull, if we had the time, that’s where we will go next. Not north, the Fernacre circle area, but south… isn’t that interesting!

Bart and fellow members of the West Cornwall Dowsers group

It was a totally fascinating day out, and on behalf of the TimeSeekers group I would like to thank Bart and his own fellow group members for taking the time to journey up from West Cornwall and to share their personal views with us on this wonderful and mysterious site. We would certainly like to get together in the future and share and discuss our views once again. It may be that some readers may also like to know or learn more about dowsing, so why not contact Bart’s West Cornwall Dowsers group where I’m sure you would be made most welcome.

The Heritage Trust’s 2015 Outreach Event will be held at King Arthur’s Hall. Watch this space for updates!


The Magna Carta of 1215. This document is now held at the British Library
Source Wikimedia Commons
And still when mob or Monarch lays
Too rude a hand on English ways,
The whisper wakes, the shudder plays,
Across the reeds at Runnymede.
And Thames, that knows the moods of kings,
And crowds and priests and suchlike things,
Rolls deep and dreadful as he brings
Their warning down from Runnymede!
From Rudyard Kipling’s What Say the Reeds at Runnymede?

Smog enveloping the Taj Mahal
Image credit Scott Burdick and Susan Lyon

Tann, in The Archaeology News Network, reports on the pollution that’s turning the 366 year-old Taj Mahal yellow –

India’s white marvel, the Taj Mahal, is slowly turning brownish-yellow because of air pollution, says an Indo-US study which also identifies the pollutants responsible for the effect. It says the Taj is changing colour due to deposition of dust and carbon-containing particles emitted in the burning of fossil fuels, biomass and garbage. The study confirms what has been suspected for long – that Agra’s poor air quality is impacting India’s most celebrated monument.

The research was conducted by experts from US universities – Georgia Institute of Technology and University of Wisconsin – as well as Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur and Archaeological Survey of India. The paper was published in the Environmental Science & Technology journal in December.

The findings can lead to targeted strategies to curb air pollution in and around Agra and more effective ways to cleanse the marble surface of the 366-year-old mausoleum, which remains by far the most visited man-made structure in the country with footfalls of more than 6 million in 2013.

More here.


Mick Aston (left) at the Time Team Big Roman Dig of 2005 with Tim Taylor, Time Team’s originator and producer
Image credit G de la Bedoyere. Source Wikimedia Commons
Thousand of fans, all around the world, are supporting an online campaign for a special one-off Time Team tribute show to archaeologist Mick Aston who passed away in June 2013. They –
…have been signing an online petition to see Channel 4’s Time Team come together one final time to create a Time Team special dig episode in memory of the late Professor Mick Aston. Lee Brady, who organised the campaign, said: ‘The Campaign has been going amazingly well. We have now over 7,800 signatures from fans from all around the world, and we have even received support from Sir Tony Robinson, Helen Geake, Matthew Williams, John Gater and Francis Pryor from the show. ‘It’s building up so quickly and it’s something I started a few days after Mick sadly passed away. It would be great to do an episode in his memory, perhaps with everyone wearing those jumpers he used to wear. The programme should also return to the basics of pure archaeology, with a proper research structure put in place and not just become a dig for digging’s sake for the episode.’
On the campaign website Lee went on to say: ‘I’d like to thank everyone who has signed the petition, if there is to be no more Time Team in the future at least this could be an episode to allow it to go out with a bang.’
More here.
Pre-auction viewing at Christie’s last year of the Egyptian statue of Sekhemka
Museums in Britain have been warned not to sell off their acquisitions. Nick Clark, writing in The Independent, reports –
Publicly funded museums that seek to sell off “the family silver” will face tougher sanctions from the body that overseas the UK’s museums. The Museums Association (MA) is to tighten up its ethics code to avoid controversial sell-offs of valuable antiquities from cash-strapped museum collections. It is also in talks with the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), the Art Fund, and Arts Council England to establish a “joined-up response” to those selling important objects for financial gain. They are also investigating whether to launch an official list of at-risk collections.
The move follows Northampton Borough Council’s decision to sell its ancient Egyptian statue of Sekhemka for £15.8m in July. The sale prompted the MA to withdraw accredited status for Northampton Museums, one of its founder members 125 years ago. As a result the museums lost out on funding grants including £240,000 from the HLF.
More here. See also our earlier feature The Sekhemka statue: How low can they stoop?


January 2015
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