Town turned into museum to display locally-excavated artefacts - Museums Association

Town turned into museum to display locally-excavated artefacts

Project aims to increase public engagement with archaeology
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Rebecca Atkinson
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Artefacts from an archaeological dig at Berkeley Castle in Gloucestershire have gone on display in homes and local businesses in a project that aims to turn the town into a museum.

More than 1,000 artefacts have been excavated from the castle by archaeologists at the University of Bristol over an 11-year period, with most of the objects being used for research purposes at the university.

The university was aware that most of the public participation in the project had through lectures and tours, so its students held a public consultation with local residents to find out if they were interested in displaying artefacts in their windows or businesses.

Aisling Tierney, a PhD student at the University of Bristol who coordinated the Town Museum Project, said that feedback showed people wanted to be more involved in the excavation.

The town museum was launched last week and the artefacts will remain on display until 5 June. It has been funded by the university's Green Apple Community scheme.

“We have been delighted by the high level of community participation in this project which has proved a very effective way to bring archaeology into community life at Berkeley,” Tierney said.

“The temporary exhibition has been very well received by the public, and the owners and staff of Berkeley Castle are delighted to be able to share their history within the community in this way. It’s also proved an enjoyable experience for our students, helping them develop their engagement-related skills while showcasing the research of Bristol’s department of archaeology and anthropology.”

Artefacts on display include: animal bones; building materials such as decorated floor tiles and roof tiles; pottery storage vessels; glass containers for alcohol; and medieval stained glass. Jewellery and clothing pins can also be seen as well as a number of decorated and undecorated clay pipes.

Tierney said that trust was an important part of the project, with people encouraged to handle the objects: “We are very confident that we will get everything back in the same condition that we lent it.” 

More information on the project is available on the Bristol Dig Berkeley blog



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