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The new museum at Rievaulx Abbey. Image credit English Heritage/PA
Maev Kennedy, writing in The Guardian, reports on the opening of the new Rievaulx Abbey Museum in north Yorkshire –
Some of the loot missed by the salvage men who stripped one of the most important and beautiful abbeys in Britain, when Henry VIII ordered the dissolution of the monasteries, is going on display for the first time in a new museum at Rievaulx Abbey in Yorkshire.
The artefacts include a beautiful carved stone doorway, reconstructed for the first time since it was buried in a heap of rubble almost 500 years ago, along with a massive ingot stamped with the king’s emblem, weighing half a tonne, made out of the lead from the abbey roof that was melted down in a fire made from the timbers.
More here.
The central alter stone at Rievaulx Abbey. Originally a pre-Christian standing stone?
The Heritage Trust

Castlehill Heritage Centre in Castletown, Scotland
AOC Archaeology Group & Castletown Heritage Society 2015

Summer 2015 sees the launch of en exciting new community archaeology initiative from Castletown Heritage Society: A Window on the Hidden Bronze Age Landscape of Caithness. This innovative project represents a new chapter in the exploration of Caithness’ prehistoric past, using cutting-edge technology to identify and select features for investigation. Targeted archaeological survey and excavation will be carried out by volunteers under the guidance of archaeologists from AOC Archaeology Group, as part of a structure summer school. Training will be central to the project’s aims, with participants learning new skills or building on previous experience. Castlehill Heritage Centre will be the project’s central hub, with indoor learning sessions, evening events and crafts workshops taking place there throughout the summer and into the autumn.

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.



The Paper Mill Museum in Amalfi, Italy. Image credit Simona Politini

A guest feature by Simona Politini, Founder and Project Manager

This Museum is housed in an old paper mill and dates back to the fourteenth, or perhaps the middle of the thirteenth century. The premises were donated to the Foundation in 1969 and recognized by Decree no. 1294 of the President of the Republic on 22nd November 1971. Comm. Milano was aware not only of the imminent danger of a further decline of the structure, and even the final loss of its identity, but also of the importance of preserving the “history” of Amalfi’s hand-made paper for posterity. Today, in the paper mill turned museum, we can see the tools used over the centuries for making paper by hand.

For further information visit the Il Museo della Carta di Amalfi in Campania website.


Reconstruction of Jomon Period roundhouses at the Yayoi-Kan Museum in Fukuoka, Japan
Image credit and © Winifred Bird
Writing in the Japan Times, Winifred Bird reports that –
Back in the late 1970s, the city planners of Karatsu, a fishing community on the northern coast of Kyushu, decided to build a new road. This provided a rare opportunity for local archaeologists. One day, they mixed a scoop of soil with water to separate out the pollen, and something unexpected floated to the top: a handful of tiny black discs. It turned out to be carbonized millennia-old rice that would soon lead them to the oldest paddy fields ever discovered in Japan. [See our earlier feature here].
Wild rice does not grow in Japan; the tall wetland plant that eventually became the squatter Japonica variety farmers grow today was first domesticated in China 8,000 or more years ago. Over the course of several millennia, the techniques evolved and spread — eventually to the Japanese islands, although the route and timing of their arrival remains controversial.
Kazuo Miyamoto, a professor of archaeology who studies that complex question at Kyushu University in Fukuoka, says immigrant farmers from the Korean Peninsula most likely arrived by boat around the eighth century B.C., making landfall somewhere around present-day Karatsu, and then on the broad plain where Fukuoka is now. They established rice paddies and probably shared their techniques with local hunter-gatherer communities, who already grew some vegetables, grains and beans in dry fields. Population grew, leaders emerged, conflict arose — and Japan was on its way toward “modernity.”
Full article here.
The Wallingford Museum
The Wallingford Museum in Oxfordshire, England is, as the Museum’s website describes –
…a colourful, delightfully intimate and family friendly local history museum, housed on two floors of this medieval oak-beamed building in the heart of Wallingford in Oxfordshire, a Thames-side town founded in the ninth century by Alfred the Great. From the Museum’s windows, you can see the remains of the great ramparts of Alfred’s planned town.
Wallingford Museum was in the news at the end of last year for its decision to rebury the remains of around 500 medieval and Saxon residents of the town in a formal and moving ceremony arranged by the Museum and local archaeologists (report here). The decision stands in contrast to the somewhat contentious one by English Heritage to display the 5,500 year-old skeleton of a man found buried in a long barrow near Stonehenge and now on show in the main gallery of the new Stonehenge Visitor Centre.
The Kyoto City Archaeological Museum
The Kyoto City Archaeological Museum (京都市考古資料館) is situated a short walk east from the Horikawa-Imadegawa intersection in north-central Kyoto. The museum has two floors, with galleries focusing mainly on the history and archaeology of Kyoto. The galleries include the Current Archaeological News Section, showing the findings of the The Kyoto City Archaeological Research Institute, the Special Exhibition Section, the Primitive Age Section, and other sections devoted to periods in Kyoto’s history.
Admission to the Museum is free, with the Museum being closed on Mondays and on other designated days throughout the year. A good alternative museum to visit while Kyoto National Museum is undergoing renovation. For further information on The Kyoto City Archaeological Museum see Maki Kawai’s website here.


June 2022
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