Our new exhibition ‘Remembrance 100′ is open from 13 October 2018 until 12 January 2019. It commemorates the centenary of the end of the First World War and 100 years of women voting. Amongst the highlights is the wallet that saved a local soldier’s life and some of the mementos and ‘trophies’ scavenged from the battlefield. It features many local stories including some of the Rutland women who voted for the first time in 1918.
The Finds Liaison Officer for Leicestershire & Rutland, Wendy Scott, will be visiting the Museum on Sat 19th May.
If you have any archaeological finds needing identification she will be here from 10am until midday and will be able to look at your items and hopefully tell you a bit more about them.
If you are not able to make it here on the 19th then you can bring your objects in beforehand and leave them with us for identification on the day.
Make sure you don’t miss our current exhibition which celebrates the centenary of the Royal Air Force and Rutland’s illustrious association with the world’s first independent air force. It has been organised by the Royal Air Forces Association (RAFA) Rutland branch in partnership with Rutland County Museum. The exhibition includes a range of artefacts including uniform, models, equipment, memorabilia and photographs. Many of these relate to the former air bases of RAF Cottesmore and RAF North Luffenham and have been loaned by local people and ex-RAF personnel.
Wednesday 18th April 2018 – Sunday 29th April 2018
Oakham Castle will be having a community archaeological dig for 10 days during April. Starting on Weds 18th April and running up to and including Sun 29th April, with a break on Monday 23rd and Tues 24th.
There will be an Open Day with extra activities and a chance for the public to see more of what has been found and hear about the process on Sunday 22nd April from 11am – 3pm.
Under the professional supervision of the University of Leicester Archaeology Service, up to 10 volunteers per day will have the opportunity to take part in a real archaeological excavation in the centre of Oakham.
Volunteers will be taking part in all aspects of the archaeological excavation. This will require strenuous physical activity equivalent to a full day of gardening, therefore a reasonable standard of mobility and fitness is necessary.
All training and equipment will be provided and no previous experience is necessary.
Then see the EventBrite website – Oakham Castle Community Dig – (You might need to scroll down the page a bit when you get there…)
We always love to see visitors at the Museum, but we know how disappointing it is when you visit and we’re not open.
This year we will be open our usual hours until Saturday 23rd December, then
Sunday 24th to Friday 29th – Closed
Saturday 30th – Open – 10.00 – 16.00
Sunday 31st to Tuesday 2nd 2018 – Closed
Returning to our normal hours on Wednesday 3rd January 2018.
The museum has a brand new guide book available for sale for just £1.50. The book gives an overview of the history of the building and highlights the key artefacts and collections that are on display. Pop into the museum shop to pick up a copy!
Wednesday 26 July, 2017
10:00 to 12:00 and 1:30 to 3:30
Come and have a go at our Archaeology crafts day. Try our Roman Mosaics, Anglo-Saxon beads, Viking boats and more!
Don’t forget to have a go at our museum trail.
Small charge of £2 to take part in the crafts. No booking required.
If you’ve ever wondered what a Collections and Interpretation Intern gets up to, have a nosey into Ellie’s day on Thursday 23 March 2017:
I began my day with a focus on interpretation – I’m making 8 portable pop-up exhibition banners which will introduce Rutland (its origins as the smallest county in Britain; its history e.g. Battle of Empingham; predominant events e.g. construction of Rutland Water). Specifically on this day, I located images from the museum’s Local Studies archive for my exhibition graphics like this one of Victorian Ketton:
For added effect and to avoid the photo pixelating when I stretched it to A1 size, I removed the background and altered it to have this modern-looking ‘cut out’ effect:
Here’s a sneak peak of one exhibition banner (albeit unfinished) I’ve made with an old adapted Rutland photograph as a border:
I found out lots of interesting social history facts which I interweaved into my exhibition: did you know that straw beehives called skeps were used during the Victorian period? They didn’t allow for the inspection of bee diseases and parasites and so were replaced by more modern hives. To get the honey out of even earlier hives (e.g. pre-1800s – though, 9000 year old pottery vessel beehives have been found in north Africa!) the whole colony was destroyed – at least the Victorian ones were better than this.
Villagers in Rutland using skeps.
The museum’s fantastic volunteer Marion then arrived to help with collections. We are doing a collections audit of all our archaeology. This involves checking the location of thousands of objects. We then photograph them, measure them, document any extra information (e.g. provenance), and check their condition to see if they need to be sent for conservation.
Here’s a lovely Bronze Age socketed spear head in good condition that we came across. Attached to the artefact is a very useful label; because our artefacts originally came from many different collectors over the last 66 years and were accessioned (accepted into Rutland County Museum’s collection) by many different curators, the amount and type of information written varies considerably – most of the time we do lots of detective work. Today the museum has a structured accession policy which makes it very easy to find out useful information about any object.
Objects myself and Marion particularly enjoyed documenting this day was this small collection of Roman pots – they cracked in the potter’s kiln and were consequently discarded. We can even see that their bottoms were smoothed. It’s nice working with objects like this because although they’re not functional or beautiful, they show a behavioural sequence/snapshot of an individual – showcasing everyday Roman life. I wonder if the first Romans who lived at Clipsham Villa in Rutland liked it here? How did our clay differ for the potter?
My manager Lorraine thought it would be good for me to get some hands-on conservation/cleaning experience and so to the stores we went. Our taxidermy husky is being loaned out of the museum to go on display and so we want him looking his best. Preparing the museum hoover (which reminds me of Ghost Busters), we attached a thin piece of material with small holes onto the vacuum head. This allowed us to catch any big pieces of the specimen that could have fallen off. I’m wearing gloves as it’s likely this specimen contains arsenic! In Victorian times this was one of the principal substances used in the preparation of skins for taxidermy. As the Yellow Earl’s favourite pet, this specimen is old and so I took care and my time to clean him with small strokes. I then completed a condition survey where I pointed out what was missing from the specimen (most of 1 ear and a few toe nails) and patches with scarce fur: this is to inform the museum he is going to. My colleague Emma said that the school children below on their school trip asked why I was shaving a wolf. This made me laugh.
I got thinking about this Oakham Earl and did some research. He loved yellow and was the first president of the Automobile Association (AA). His name was given to the Lonsdale brand. He explored arctic Canada in 1888 and donated Inuit artefacts to the British Museum – it’s a shame Rutland County Museum wasn’t around at this time! We could have had some anthropology in our collection.
It was then time for me to go home – all in a day’s work! I absolutely love my job. I love working with objects and learning new things and I especially love passing this on to others. My role enables me to do all of these simultaneously; it’s the perfect job for me.
If you’d like to find out what else I get up to, please follow me on Twitter: @elliesarahcoope
Written by Collections and Interpretation Intern, Ellie Cooper:
Walking on a beach, do you stop to admire a nice looking rock? I do. I have a nice shiny Tanzanian rock sitting on my bookshelf – every time I look at it I am flooded with fond memories of my travels. Victorians liked to do this too. They particularly liked those they thought to be hand axes. Before the Victorians and before the Stone Age was known to exist, some people thought that stone tools were the remnants of lightning bolts. Some even thought they were Roman: woolly mammoth bones with a stone tool were found in London and deemed Roman elephants from the time of Emperor Claudius. Eventually, the antiquity of humanity was realised and a classification system for stone tools arose. People longed to find older and older tools – tools which were indicative of the origins of tool making and the earliest humans. The Victorians were finding thousands of very crude tools and these were popping up in museums everywhere. The problem was, they couldn’t distinguish between humanly -worked stone and those modified by natural processes like falling off a cliff. These are called eoliths. Eoliths typically have fractures and look usefully sharp and so were widely accepted as artefactual. This was becoming an important issue as the presence of eoliths in very early Stone Age sediments was being used to prove that ancient humans were in Britain from 5.3 million years ago. Relating to nationalism, Britain was yearning to be the centre of the world and the evolutionary ‘birth place’ of mankind and tools as ancient as 5.3 million years, made Britain this piece of the puzzle.
Presumably not liking Britain taking this limelight, French prehistorian Marcellin Boule argued his theory in 1905 that eoliths were stones modified by natural processes like frost and mechanical shattering. It wasn’t until the 1930s however that eoliths were objectively demonstrated and generally agreed that their characteristics were homogenous with natural formation processes. Today it’s known that the earliest humanly-modified stones are found in Africa and are 3.3 million years old.
So how do we decide what’s a real stone tool?
Many decades of scientific study and experimental archaeology highlights humanly-modified stone exhibit:
1) A bulb of percussion and conchoidal fracture(s). This arises from the elasticity of the flint.
2) Facets on the flattish faces of the stone
What do eoliths mean for museums?
What do we do with these naturally ‘manufactured’ stones? I wrote this blog as I recently came across one when working in the stores at Rutland County Museum:
The British Museum among others holds many eoliths. Obviously these are using up lots of space which real hand axes could have. However, these stones can provide us with valuable and interesting information. Information can be revealed about the collector as well as the history of stone tool classification. The fact our predecessors had this debate about the authenticity of these stone tools is interesting. These objects are then part of the history of ideas which museums are here to tell.
What do you think the smaller museums should do? I think eoliths shed light on an important episode of Palaeolithic Archaeology. Typically, the smaller museum isn’t burdened by thousands of these stones so they’re not too much of a problem. Some museums have audited the eoliths and kept a small representative sample and have disposed of the rest. I’ve seen eolith museum gardens featured on the internet. Of which small plaques could then inform museum users the stories behind them.
For now, Rutland County Museum’s eolith is safe on the shelf.
Look out for the museum’s First World War ‘pop-up’ display which will be touring around the county’s libraries from February until May 2017. The display honours and remembers local men that fought and died during the conflict. It also features original artefacts including souvenirs, postcards and trench art. The display can be seen at these libraries during normal opening times:
Uppingham Library: Tuesday 7th February – Saturday 4th March
Ketton Library: Wednesday 8th March – Saturday 1st April
Ryhall Library: Thursday 6th April – Saturday 6th May