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Archive for the tag “Anglo-Saxon”

Conservation time!

I’ve been a busy little bee these past few days and today was no exception. I was invited on a tour of the conservation studios at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.

At first I thought I would simply be watching some of the processes going on, but oh no, I was handed the chemicals and told to have a go haha!!

So here is what I did…

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Into the archives…

On Friday the 12th of October I finally got round to visiting the Shakespeare Museum, Library and Archive Collections who had kindly provided me with lots of information on Anglo-Saxon archaeology digs across Warwickshire, specifically the ones at Bidford and Alveston. I also had a read of the Wasperton dig too as there was an amazing book in the reading room about it.

Here is a map to show the distribution of pagan Anglo-Saxon cemeteries in the Avon valley where the archaeology digs took place. By contrast with the sparse, peripheral Anglo-Saxon archaeology of Staffordshire, that of Warwickshire shows the valley of the Avon in the southern half of the county, to have been an important focus of pagan burial practices. Map from ‘The West Midlands in the Early Middle Ages’ by Gelling, M. (1992):

The collection is situated right by where I work, at the Shakespeare Centre itself, and looks after the largest collection of Shakespeare related materials in the UK. Their collection includes rare manuscripts, books, photographs, artefacts and works of art. One of their great treasures is the First Folio which is believed to have belonged to Shakespeare. Obviously the collection isn’t all about Shakespeare though- it is a local history archive too with records dating back to the 12th C- hence why they have archaeology records and artefacts…with items like this beauty…

Anglo-Saxon Large Square-Headed Bronze Brooch

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‘Not’ the Staffordshire Hoard…my trip to the Potteries Museum

Well, I decided to go my hometown over the weekend as I had booked my place on a talk at the Potteries Museum, Stoke-on-Trent. As you might have guessed, it was a talk on Anglo-Saxon history. My obsession with this period in history is gradually getting bigger. I have bought numerous new books, become involved with reconstructive archaeology groups, and I’ve been doing my own research too.

I was especially excited about visiting the museum because I haven’t been to Stoke in a while, and I know it has a bit of a reputation, but I’m actually really proud of where I’m from, and the museum did not disappoint me at all. In fact, it exceeded my expectations, both in the permanent gallery spaces, the new exhibitions, and the talk itself.

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Wolverhampton Heritage Open Days

Busy busy busy! I thought it would be a great idea to check out some of the Wolverhampton events, tours and exhibitions happening in the city today. I had a fantastic time, although driving to the city was the scariest experience I’ve had in my car so far- roads of death! I managed to park in the multi-storey right in the centre, then I fumbled my way from the darkness of the underground into the light, emerging right outside the first place on my list to visit. So it all worked out well in the end.

Saint Peter’s Collegiate Church

So, the first place I visited was St. Peter’s Church, a Grade I listed building, which is right in the centre of the city. It is a mix of Early English, Decorated and Perpendicular styles in red sandstone.

St. Peter's Church

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Tamworth’s Heritage Weekend

I don’t even know where to start with this one! It has been an epic weekend! I decided to go visit Tamworth, a little town in Staffordshire as there was a Heritage Weekend happening. Basically, it was a weekend of celebrating the unique history of Tamworth going back 1400 years.  The activities were centred around Tamworth Castle and the Castle grounds with a living history Saxon encampment, exhibitions, workshops and community stalls. I need to say a big thank you to Æd for telling me about the event! Without him this post wouldn’t even exist!

Tamworth Castle itself is the site of the ancient captial of Mercia and was once home to the King of Mercia’s palace…so, lots of Anglo-Saxon history to celebrate! I bought a book from the gift shop entitled ‘Tamworth: The Ancient Capital of Mercia’ written by Stephen Pollington and I also managed to meet the author that day too!! He was a great guy, very knowledgeable and was attending the Heritage event with his group the Wulfheodenas (a living history society). They had authentic Saxon clothes, and weaponry and were also making foils. Foils were used by the Saxons to decorate their helmets. I took a photograph of one of their helmets (see below).

Helmet from the Wulfheodenas group

And here are my favourite people again…The Thegns of Mercia!

The Thegns of Mercia

I managed to see even more of their items than last time (such as musical instruments, weaponry and runes), and I chatted to other members of the group too. It was so busy, and their stall was attracting crowds of people. I noticed that as soon as they started to talk to people about their role and what they have on show, more people began to cluster and listen in. It was great seeing the public take such a great interest in history.

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Thegns of Mercia at the Museum Part Two

Today I visited the Thegns of Mercia in the learning centre to see what Anglo-Saxon goodies they had on offer to show me. I got a little over-excited at the weapons, but the creepy furs were still there…including one from a reindeer. I have included a cute photograph that I took of a reindeer, to show my sorrow…

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Did it make you go “awwwww”?

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Thegns of Mercia at the Museum Part One

Well its been an interesting day at the museum- a few Anglo-Saxon men popped by to the gallery to say hello! Pretty average day then eh? To explain things a little, the museum had a special event which was organised by the Thegns of Mercia, a group of people dedicated to celebrating and raising public awareness of English history from the Migration period through to the end of the early Medieval age, and exploration of these periods through primary research, public events, and re-constructive archaeology.

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Gallery Day

Told you the Anglo-Saxon stuff would be coming…

I love Mondays (yes you read that right) and I shall tell you why. Every Monday I work at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, specifically on the Staffordshire Hoard. This isn’t just any Anglo-Saxon Hoard- its the only Anglo-Saxon Hoard, which is why I get hundreds of visitors to see it (even on a Monday!). I love my job as I get to spend the day wandering around chatting to lots of visitors, answering questions on history, talking to people about their interests. As you can probably tell, I’m a bit sociable.

I also get to do lots of research surrounding the Hoard and all the general theories about what it is and why it ended up in a field just outside of Lichfield. Here are some of the items from the whole collection:

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Hadrian’s Wall

MORE ARCHAEOLOGY- yes, I know you’re excited. Well, I decided to create a photobook from all the photographs I took on my trip to Hadrian’s Wall. It includes some Anglo-Saxon as well as Roman archaeology and information, as well as some interesting artefacts from museum collections.

I’m getting it printed in a fab hardback edition so I can gloat over my photographic skills. It is also to remind me of the sweaty humid hike I took up to Housesteads Roman Fort- I thought at the time that it would be amazing to just power walk to the top. However, when I got to the top, my legs decided to shake uncontrollably and I was reminded of how unfit I am.

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Wroxeter Roman City

I’ve become slightly obsessed with Roman history in Britain recently- which is strange because I’ve actually started to work on an Anglo-Saxon collection at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. But before I even start on the Anglo-Saxon updates, I thought I would share some more of the sites I’ve been visiting. Its interesting that some of the sites I have been visiting do have Anglo-Saxon evidence present!

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