Heritage tourism: Cambridge University Museums

Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge © David Gill

Cambridge University Museums play an important part in the visitor economy for Cambridge (1.3 million visitors in 2019). The Fitzwilliam Museum is the most visited, though there has been a steady decrease in recent years from 441,000 in 2016 to 349,000 in 2019. The Cambridge University Botanic Gardens have seen a steady increase to 334,000 in 2019.

The refurbished Kettle’s Yard and the University Museum of Zoology have seen a substantial increase in numbers, 231,000 and 134,000 respectively in 2019.

Heritage tourism: East Anglia

Ickworth © David Gill

The top seven paid heritage visitor attractions in East Anglia (Norfolk and Suffolk) account for 1.1 million visitors a year (2018). Four are properties managed by the National Trust: Ickworth, Blickling Hall, Felbrigg Hall, and Oxburgh Hall. Framlingham Castle is managed by English Heritage.

Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery © David Gill

There is a single museum, the Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery.

Sheringham Station, the Poppy Line © David Gill

The Poppy Line (North Norfolk Railway) is also in the top seven.

Chart © David Gill

Heritage Tourism in Greece: Nestor’s Palace

Nestor’s Palace © David Gill

The bronze age palace near Pylos was the findspot of a major archive of Linear B tablets that shed light on the economy of this part of Messenia. The location is popularly known as Nestor’s Palace.

The finds from the site are displayed in the nearby Chora Museum. Notice how the forecourt makes the visual allusion to the hearth in the palace.

Chora Museum © David Gill
Chora Museum © David Gill

Both locations attract significant numbers of tourists to this part of the Peloponnese. I have added data from the nearby museum at Pylos that also contains some regional finds.

Data Source: Hellenic Statistical Service. Chart © David Gill.

Fortuna and Bowes

Inscription from Bowes (Cambridge, Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology) © David Gill

Two inscriptions from Roman forts on the road across the Pennines are now displayed in Cambridge: one is the Brough Stone now in the Fitzwilliam Museum, and the other is an inscription from Bowes, Co. Durham, now in the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (RIB 730; D 1970.3). (For the site of the fort now occupied by a castle.)

The Bowes inscription was transferred, along with 15 other inscriptions from various sites in Britain, from the library of Trinity College to the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in 1970. The altar has been known since at least 1600 when it appeared in Camden’s Britannia. It was found at the Roman fort of Bowes (Lavatrae) to the north-west of Richmond.

The altar is dedicated to the goddess Fortuna. The dedication is made by Virius Lupus, the governor of the province (from AD 197), who restored the bath-house that had been destroyed by fire. Virius Lupus is also known from another project at Ilkley that is dated to exactly the same period (RIB 637). The garrison unit is named as the 1st Cohort of Thracians (see also RIB 740 from the governorship of L. Alfenus Senecio, 205–c. 208). The work was carried out by Valerius Fronto, the cavalry prefect of the Vettonians, based at the fort of Binchester (Vinovia) to the north-east of Bowes.

The severed portrait head from the Alde

Portrait of the Emperor Claudius (British Museum) © David Gill

The bronze head of the Emperor Claudius (or perhaps Nero) was found in the spring of 1907 in the River Alde at Rendham, west of Saxmundham, in Suffolk. As Jocelyn Toynbee observed: ‘The lower line of the neck is torn and ragged, and there can be little doubt but that this head was violently hacked from its body and carried off as loot from some important Roman centre’. The suggestion is that it was removed from the Roman colony at Colchester: see Janet Huskinson, CSIR GB I, 8, no. 23.

The head (‘The Saxmundham Claudius’) was purchased by the British Museum after it had been sold at Sotheby’s in 1965 (inv. 1965.12-01.1).

Barton Farm Villa: Orpheus

Barton Farm Villa (Corinium Museum) © David Gill

The Orpheus mosaic was discovered at Barton Farm outside Circencester in 1825. At the centre is the figure of Orpheus, wearing a Phrygian cap, and playing a lyre. The mosaic is dated to the fourth century AD.

A circle of birds surround Orpheus, among them a peacock.

Barton Farm Villa (Corinium Museum) © David Gill

Orpheus’ music has enchanted a group of animals, among them a lion, a tiger and possibly a leopard. The front of a fragmentary fourth animal can be seen.

Barton Farm Villa (Corinium Museum) © David Gill

The Corinium Museum has displayed the mosaic so that it can be viewed from the first floor of the museum.

Maryport: Cohors I Hispanorum

IMG_0259
Maryport © David Gill

The Senhouse Roman Museum at the Roman fort of Maryport on the Cumbrian coast contains an extensive series of Latin inscriptions. Among them is this altar (RIB 816), found in 1870 to the north-east of the fort.  It was dedicated by the prefect of the Cohors I Hispanorum, L. Antistius Lupus Verianus, from Sicca in Africa (Numidia Proconsularis). David Breeze provisionally dates his command to 136 (and prior to 139 when the Cohors I Delmatarum arrived).

Rome: The Hadrianeum

Rome_93
Relief probably from the Hadrianeum (Capitoline Museum) © David Gill

The Hadrianeum in Rome lay in the Campus Martius on the west side of the Via Lata, to the south of the Ara Pacis. Parts of the temple can be seen along one side of the Piazza di Pietra. Eleven Corinthian columns, made of Proconnesian marble, as well as the north side of the cella are incorporated into the Borsa.

There is no epigraphic evidence to confirm the identity of the temple although Antoninus Pius dedicated one to him in this area in AD 145; this is the most likely interpretation for this structure.

A series of 24 reliefs cut from Proconnesian marble have been associated with the temple. They were probably incorporated on the cella. The figure shown here, holding a vexillum, probably represents the province of Mauretania. The relief showing shields and an axe probably represent trophies.

For more of the reliefs, including those in Naples, see Following Hadrian.

IMG_4274-Edit
The Hadrianeum, Rome © David Gill

rome2009103
Relief from the Hadrianeum, Rome (Capitoline Museum) © David Gill

The West Row Roman Treasure from Suffolk

milden_0081
Mildenhall Dish © David Gill

A suggestion has been made that the Mildenhall Treasure be renamed as the West Row Treasure after the parish in which it was found (“Mildenhall Treasure: British Museum steps in to row over Roman hoard”, BBC News 22 February 2020).

Colchester Castle Museum: engaging with the past

IMG_4554
Colchester Castle Museum © David Gill

The collection within Colchester Castle contains one of the best presented collections of objects from Roman Britain. It is displayed in an imaginative and engaging way from the mosaics and (funerary) sculptures to the inscriptions and pottery.

In spite of this Colchester has, surprisingly, not featured as high in the list of museums for the RSA Heritage Index.

IMG_8323
Roman funerary monuments in Colchester Castle © David Gill