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Garston Philips, Collections Ambassador at the Worcester City Art Gallery and Museum, holds the recently acquired Iron Age gold stater donated by an anonymous benefactor
Image credit Jonathan Barry

James Forrest, writing for the Evesham Journal, reports that –

AN anonymous donor has given a “rare and wonderful” ancient coin to Museums Worcestershire. The donation of the 2000-year-old gold coin saw Christmas come early for museum staff, who were left in tears of joy by the “special” gift. The inscribed Iron Age gold stater, which was produced in about AD 20-40 in the last years before the Roman conquest, was discovered by metal detectorists in the Droitwich area.

Angie Bolton, finds liaison officer for the Portable Antiquities Scheme in Worcestershire, which works with people who discover rare objects, said: “This Iron Age coin is so special in many ways. It was found by two metal detectorists who record their finds with us, changing what we know of Iron Age and Roman Worcestershire.”

Deborah Fox, curator of archaeology and natural history at Museums Worcestershire, added: “We’ve been collecting archaeological finds at Museums Worcestershire since the 1830s and in those 180 years we have only acquired two gold Iron Age staters. They are a real rarity so this donation is overwhelming.”

More here.

 

 
 
Models submerged in flood water at the Jorvik Viking Centre, York England
 
Most people living in Britain will be only too aware of the floods that have hit the north west of the country over the last few days. The devastation has left thousands of people with wrecked homes and/or businesses and more damage is forecast with the arrival of Storm Frank which is due to sweep into the area tonight. Amongst the devastation there is at least one piece of good news. Although the Jorvik Viking Centre in York has been flooded all of its priceless artefacts have ben moved to safety at a higher level or elsewhere. The Independent reports –
 
York’s Jorvik Viking Centre has been closed for the first time in 32 years after the exhibition was submerged in 50cm of dirty floodwater. The city has been severely hit by flooding over the Christmas period. The water levels of the River Ouse and River Foss are now falling but nine severe flood warnings are still in place mostly around York.
 
Earlier, staff had removed important artefacts [from the Centre] and helped build a barricade to try to protect the centre from the flooding. In a statement, Sarah Maltby, director of attractions for York Archaeological Trust, which owns the centre, said: “When we first became aware of water leaking into the basement, we immediately transported all of the historic artefacts within Jorvik up to the first floor, and they have now been moved off-site to a safe location.”
 
More here.
   
 
 
The East Grafton Saxon gold coin
 
The Wiltshire Museum in Devizes, Wiltshire England has launched a fund-raising campaign to secure a rare Saxon gold coin for the Nation. The coin was found in April in East Grafton, a village between Burbage and Great Bedwyn in Witshire, south-west England. Struck in what is now modern-day France, sometime between 655ce and 675ce, the coin features a head and cross on one side and a pair of clasping hands on the other. The coin dates to a period of transition from Paganism to Christianity, and shortly after the Sutton Hoo ship burial and the Staffordshire Hoard which also contain objects with both Pagan and Christian themes.
 
This remarkable find brings new light to the vale of Pewsey in the Saxon period. East Grafton was part of the parish of Bedwyn until medieval times. There are a number of pagan Saxon cemeteries nearby and there was an early Saxon Royal manor at the Iron Age hill fort at Chisbury, just to the north of Great Bedwyn. Later in the Saxon period, the focus moved to Great Bedwyn where there was a Royal Manor and an important Minster church. Bedwyn was held by King Alfred and it also had a Saxon mint in the time of King Edward the Confessor soon after 1,000 AD. Bedwyn was very important and it was only with the building of its Norman castle that the focus moved to Marlborough. (Wiltshire Museum).
 
The coin is being auctioned early next month (2 December) by Spink & Son, Bloomsbury London and is estimated to achieve a sale price of around £12,000. The Wilshire Museum is therefore launching a fundraising campaign to secure this important find for the Museum and the Nation. They will be seeking grant aid but still need help. To make a donation please click on the Wiltshire Museum website here.
 

The Huge History Lesson
©
Trustees of the British Museum
 
 
 
The Staffordshire Hoard
©
Birmingham Museums Trust
 
The Art Fund has announced that –
 
Although all Treasure Plus funding has now been awarded, we’re running a conference in October 2015 to support curators working with archaeological collections. The aims of this fully funded conference are to share best practice, discuss solutions for common challenges with other curators and sector experts, and to network with colleagues. Specialist and non-specialist curators and other museum professionals working with archaeology collections are all welcome.
 
Details:
 
Tuesday, 13 October 10am to 4pm (with a drinks reception and extended access to the Staffordshire Hoard Gallery until 6pm. Thinktank, Birmingham. Lunch and refreshments will be provided. Places are fully funded, and will be allocated on a first come, first served basis, with priority given to curators working in UK public collections.
 
The conference will be held at Thinktank, but Birmingham Museums Trust has kindly offered to extend the opening hours for the Staffordshire Hoard Galleries for conference attendees. In addition, a limited number of participants will be able to take part in a tour of the conservation studio, where items from the Hoard (pictured) are still being conserved. Transport from Thinktank to Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery will be arranged by the Art Fund.
 
More here.
  
 
 
Unearthed in 1947 at Monkton Farleigh in Wiltshire England, this 4,400 year-old gold sun disc is one of only six ever found, and one of the earliest metal objects ever discovered in Britain
 
This rare and beautiful gold sun-disc (discovered 20 miles from Stonehenge) has gone on display to mark this year’s summer solstice. The early Bronze Age disc, thought to represent the sun, is on show for the first time at the Wiltshire Museum in Devizes, England.
 
More here.
 
On a separate note, The Heritage Trust is relocating from the south to the north of England. We hope to be up and running as normal by the beginning of July. Have a great summer wherever you are!
 
 
 
I Love Museums is a campaign led by the National Museum Directors’ Council to show the public support for museums
 
The Campaign
 
Our museums are facing challenging times. Local and national governments are making tough decisions about funding, and we want to show them how much museums matter by celebrating the public support for our wonderful cultural institutions. We need you to stand up and say ‘I Love Museums’!
 
Whoever is to blame for the financial and banking crisis, and as we all try to recover, it is clearer than ever that our Heritage – monuments, archaeology and museums – also underpins our recovery. Our heritage assets, and the beleaguered professionals who manage them.
 
More here.
   

West Midlands History explores a mystery object from the Staffordshire Anglo-Saxon Hoard

After hours of research, this is an object which still baffles the team of Anglo Saxon experts in the project team. As far as they know no comparable piece has ever been found and it has no immediately obvious use.

Transportation of Lebanese cedar. A relief, circa 713–716bce, from the north wall of the main court of King Sargon II’s palace at Dur Sharrukin in Assyria (present-day Khorsabad in Iraq)
Department of Oriental Antiquities, Louvre Museum, Paris
Image credit Marie-Lan Nguyen. Source Wikimedia Commons

European and US museums that preserve and display Assyrian artefacts from the ancient royal cities under attack by Islamic State (IS) are working to help their Iraqi colleagues prepare for a day when the sites are liberated. A coalition of the willing exists but it remains to be seen whether institutions will co-ordinate their efforts.

Jonathan Tubb, the keeper of the Middle East department at the British Museum in London, urges organisations to do more than express outrage. “We need to get over the threshold of despair – we can do something positive and constructive by preparing for the time when effective government control is restored,” he says.

While the sites in northern Iraq are no-go areas, the British Museum plans to work with colleagues from other parts of Iraq to train a “task force” of professionals in rescue archaeology and emergency heritage management in London. They will return, accompanied by British Museum curators, equipped to draw up plans of action for sites including Nimrud and Nineveh.

More from The Art Newspaper here.

A guest feature by Littlestone.
 
 
The Dali Museum, Florida, United States
Image credit Matthew Paulson. Source Wikimedia Commons
 
Not all is doom and gloom… at least not when it comes to the number of museums in the United States. According to Christopher Ingraham, writing for The Washington Post, there are roughly 11,000 Starbucks and about 14,000 McDonald’s in the country – a total of some 25,000 outlets. That’s a lot, but not as many as there are museums, which weigh in at a whopping 35,000!
 
According to Mr Ingraham –
 
…the latest data release from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, an independent government agency that tallies the number and type of museums in this country. By their count the 35,000 active museums represent a doubling from the number estimated in the 1990s.
 
While most of us think of massive institutions like the Smithsonian and the Guggenheim when we think of museums, one lesson of the new data is that the majority of U.S. museums are small, nearly mom-and-pop affairs. Of the roughly 25,000 museums with income data in the file, 15,000 of them  reported an annual income of less than $10,000 on their latest IRS returns.
 
Well done the United States! (full Washington Post article here). Meanwhile, if you feel you can help support museums in Britain, please consider offering some of your time to them, making a donation or buying books etc directly from a museum shop rather than going through one of the big retailers. The Beck Isle Museum in Pickering, North Yorkshire is a good example of how we can support the smaller museum, and the British Museum shop an example of how direct purchasing will help support larger museums and their varied activities.
  
 
Rievaulx Abbey with Chapter House ruins in foreground
Image credit Antony McCallum. Source Wikimedia Commons
 
English Heritage has set itself a series of ambitious financial targets so that it can become a self-financing organisation in eight years’ time. Its plans were outlined last week ahead of English Heritage splitting into two on 1 April 2015. The English Heritage Trust, a new independent charity, will look after the National Heritage Collection, which comprises more than 400 historic sites across England including Stonehenge, Dover Castle and parts of Hadrian’s Wall. It will retain the English Heritage name. Historic England will be the new name for the public body that champions and protects England’s historic environment.
 
A number of new museums and exhibitions will be developed as part of the new English Heritage Trust’s plans. The art deco Eltham Palace in Greenwich will be restored. And to mark this year’s bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo, there will be new exhibitions at those sites associated with the Duke of Wellington: Wellington Arch and Apsley House in London and Walmer Castle in Kent. Next year, a new museum will open to tell the 900-year story of Rievaulx Abbey in north Yorkshire.
 
More here.
    
 
 
The Whitby Museum, North Yorkshire
©
The Heritage Trust
 
Geraldine Kendall, writing for the Museums Journal, reports that –
 
Museums in England generate £2.64bn of income a year and employ almost 40,000 people, according to a report published last week by Arts Council England (ACE). Drawing on evidence from three financial years, 2008-09, 2010-11 and 2012-13, the Economic Impact of Museums in England report estimated that the nation’s 2,720 museums generate an average of £3 of income for every £1 of public sector funding invested in the sector. The income figures include earned income from activities such as research, learning, retail and venue hire, as well as income from investments and donations.
 
Meanwhile, the total output – the value of goods and services produced by museums – is £1.45bn, according to the report, meaning that for every £1 of public sector grant received, the museum sector generates an estimated £2.20 of direct economic output. Breaking the figures down by museum type, the report found that museums funded directly by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) generate 36% of the total output, independent museums generate 25%, and local authority museums generate 11%.
 
Read the full article here.
   
 
Romano-British tombstone found in Cirencester, England
 
On the 25 February we reported on a rare Roman-British tombstone that had been discovered in Cirencester, southern England. Today we learn that because the tombstone was found on private land belonging to St James’s Place (a wealth management company) it might not be displayed in Cirencester’s excellent Corinium Museum (situated just a few hundred metres from where the tombstone was unearthed) and may not even stay in the area at all.
 
The Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard quotes Amanda Hart, Director of the Corinium Museum, as saying, “I really, really hope it comes back to Cirencester…” A spokeswoman for the St James’s Place wealth management company, however, is reported as saying, “Unfortunately we haven’t come to a conclusion yet, we haven’t quite firmed it up.” and declined to comment further.
 
The Heritage Trust strongly urges those in a position to decide the fate of this rare artefact from Britain’s Roman period to do the honourable thing and donate it to the Corinium Museum where it can be appreciated by all members of the public and not just by a select few.
 
Related article here.
 
 
 
The Earthouse at the Ancient Technology Centre in Dorset, England
 
 
…began over 25 years ago as a school project. Jake Keen, a teacher working at Cranborne Middle School, designed and led the building of an Iron Age roundhouse based on archaeological evidence. Uniquely, Jake’s ethos demanded the construction and material gathering to be undertaken by school children.
 
The harvesting of materials took place in local woodlands and reed beds and after 6 months, the children began work on building the structure.  A year of hard work saw the completion of the roundhouse and marked the beginning of the Ancient Technology Centre.
 
On Saturday, 14 March 2015 the Wiltshire Museum in Devizes will be organising an own car Outing to the Ancient Technology Centre and the Dorset Cursus. Details here.
   
 
 
Stonehenge by J M W Turner
Reproduced courtesy of the Salisbury Museum
 
From Friday, May 22 2015 to Sunday, September 27 2015 the Salisbury Museum in Wiltshire, England will be hosting an exhibition entitled Turner’s Wessex: Architecture and Ambition.
 
In May 2015 [the Salisbury Museum] will mount the first ever exhibition devoted to J M W Turner’s drawings and paintings of Salisbury Cathedral, the city and its surroundings. Situated in the Cathedral Close, directly opposite its west front, the Museum is ideally placed to explore Turner’s relationship with Salisbury and the Cathedral. This relationship began when Turner was a young man and reveals formidable talent and ambition from a very early age.
 
Working with the Turner scholar Ian Warrell, we have focused on three aspects of Turner’s many depictions of the Salisbury area: firstly, his responses to the Cathedral and town, particularly in connection with the commission he received from local antiquarian, Sir Richard Colt Hoare who inherited the large Stourhead Estate in 1785; secondly the series of views of the neo-gothic Fonthill Abbey that he painted for ‘England’s wealthiest son’, the fascinating and eccentric William Beckford; and finally his work recording the area of central, southern England, sometimes known as Wessex, extending over a period of thirty years
 
Alongside Turner’s works from the Museum’s collection, this exhibition will include extensive loans from museums and art galleries across the UK including Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, British Museum, Fitzwilliam Museum, National Galleries Scotland, V & A and Whitworth Art Gallery. The exhibition will also be supported by a substantial loan from the Tate collection.
 
Details here.
   

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