Colchester Castle Museum: engaging with the past

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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.

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Roman funerary monuments in Colchester Castle © David Gill

Norwich as a centre for heritage

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Norwich Cathedral © David Gill

The RSA Heritage Index (published in 2016) has ranked the heritage assets for different local authorities in England. Norwich is the only locality in the eastern counties to feature in the Top 10: it is placed at number 9. It is ranked first in England for ‘Cultures and Memories’, fourth for ‘Historic Built Environment’, and 12th for ‘Museums, Archives and Artefacts’.

North Norfolk, and Kings Lynn and West Norfolk are placed 36th and 48th respectively.

Outside Norfolk, Cambridge is placed at number 12, and three parts of Essex are in the top 50: Southend-on-Sea (22), Maldon (40), and Castle Point (41).

See ‘Where in the UK has the most heritage?

Hadrian’s Wall: official guides

HW_DOE_souvenir
1963 (1969)

A.R. Birley prepared ‘an illustrated guide’ to Hadrian’s Wall in 1963. This supplemented the guides to individual forts on the wall (Chesters, Housesteads) as well as the Stanegate (Corbridge). (See now the English Heritage guide to Birdoswald.) A foldout plan inside the card cover showed key locations between Wallsend and Bowness. There are some excellent reconstructions by Alan Sorrell (including one with an overlay to show the inside of the bath-house).

HW_card_MoW
1970

There was a fold-out MPBW guide to the Wall in 1970.

HW_souv_EH
1987 (3rd ed. 1996)

David J. Breeze prepared the Souvenir Guide to the Roman Wall, which is described inside the cover ass ‘The greatest monument to the Roman occupation of Britain’. Breeze has also prepared the Handbook to the Roman Wall. The guide includes South Shields and Vindolanda, as well as the Roman fort at Maryport on the Cumbrian coast.

HW_EH_red
2006

The souvenir guide was replaced by Breeze’s ‘Red Guide’ to Hadrian’s Wall. The tour goes from west to east and includes non English Heritage sites such as Maryport, Vindolanda, Wallsend and South Shields.

The Development of Guidebooks for Heritage Sites in England

StBotolph_OW
1917

These covers show the development from the first official guidebook (St Botolph’s) issued by the Office of Works through to English Heritage. These guides range from small booklets to concertina card guides.

For the development of guides in Scotland see here.

Pyx_Office_of_Works
1949
Scilly_green
1949 (repr. 1952)
Dartmouth_MW
1951 (repr. 1954)
corbridge_green_cov
1954
Osborne_MW
1955
Audley End
Audley End (1955)
Pevensey_green
1952 (repr. 1956)

 

Shap_MPBW
1963 (3rd impress. with amendments)
OldSarum_souv
1965
Goodrich_MPBW
1958 (5th impress. 1967)
Maison_Dieu_MPBW
1958 (3rd impress. with amendments 1967)
StantonDrew_MPBW
Revised 1969
Hetty_Pegler_DOE
1970
Aldborough_blue
1970
Helmsley_blue
1966 [3rd impress. 1971]
Saxtead_DOE_blue
1972
Glastonbury_DOE
(1973)
Egglestone_DOE
1958 (8th impress. 1976)
Totnes_DOE
1979
Stott_Park_DOE
1983
GrimesGraves_DOE_front
1984
Bayham_blue
1974 (1985)
Chysauster_EH_white
1987
EH_Orford_early
1964 (1982; English Heritage 1988; repr. 1975)
Middleham_EH_1993
1993
Portchester_EH
1990 (2000)
Tintagel_EH
1999 (repr. 2002)
Richborough_EH
(2012)
Furness_Piel_EH
1998 (rev. 2015)
Pendennis_StM_EH_red
2012 (2nd ed. 2018)

100 Years of Female Antiquaries

Lamb_SoA_2020_a

On 3 June 1920 the first two women, Rose Graham (1875–1963) and Eugénie Strong (1860–1943),  were elected as Fellows of the Society of Antiquaries of London. The Society of Antiquaries will be marking the centenary of this event with a series of papers on International Women’s Day on Monday 9 March 2020.

I have been invited to speak about Winifred Lamb who excavated in Greece and Turkey in the 1920s and 1930s, and later contributed to the establishment of the British Institute of Archaeology at Ankara.

Winifred Lamb (1894–1963) was a pioneering archaeologist conducting fieldwork in Greece and Turkey. She read classics at Newnham College, Cambridge, where Dorothy Garrod (1892–1968) was her contemporary, before joining Room 40 at the Admiralty in the later stages of the First World War. She was admitted as a student of the British School at Athens in the autumn of 1920 and excavated at Mycenae with Alan J.B. Wace and Carl Blegen. She subsequently worked on the British excavations at Sparta (1924) and in Macedonia (1925, 1929), before directing her own excavation at Thermi on Lesbos (1929–33). Her work on Lesbos was recognised by her election as a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries on 25 February 1932, and later by the award of a ScD from the University of Cambridge (1940). After work on Chios (1934), she directed the excavation of the Bronze Age site of Kusura in western Turkey (1935–37).

Furness Abbey: Guidebooks

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Furness Abbey © David Gill

The Cistercian abbey at Furness was established at the present site in 1127. It was placed in State Guardianship in 1923. The official guidebook was prepared by J.C. Dickinson in 1965. This contains a history, followed by an itinerary and description. A fold-out plan is placed inside the back cover.

Furness_MPBW
1965

The ‘blue guide’ continued into the 1980s as an English Heritage guide. It was replaced in 1998 by a new illustrated guide, combined with Piel Castle, by Stuart Harrison and Jason Wood; the section on Piel Castle was prepared by Rachel Newman. A fold-out plan of the abbey as well as its surrounding area is printed on the fold-out back cover.

Furness_Piel_EH
1998 (rev. 2015)
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Piel Castle © David Gill

Brougham Castle: guidebooks

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Brougham Castle © David Gill

Brougham Castle in Cumbria was placed in State Guardianship in 1928. The first paper guidebook was written by John Charlton in 1950. It has a section on the history of the site, including the adjacent Roman fort. There is a separate section on the ‘periods of building’, followed by a description. A plan of the castle is provided on the centre pages.

Brougham_DOE
1950 (repr. 1976)

The Ministry guide evolved into an English Heritage guide (1985) and a second edition was prepared in 1988. This contains a Tour of the Castle followed by a History. The text is considerably expanded. There is a short separate section on the Roman fort with an illustration of an altar to Mars.

Brougham_EH_white
2nd ed. 1988 (repr. 1997)

This English Heritage guide is one of the ‘Gateway‘ sponsored guides.

Brougham_EH_rear
2nd ed. 1988 (repr. 1997)

The Charlton guide was replaced in 1999 by a joint guide with Brough Castle prepared by Henry Summerson. The histroy of each castle is presented followed by a tour. One of the sections is on ‘Wordsworth and Brougham’. Plans of both castles are placed inside the back cover.

Brough_Brougham_EH
1999 (rev. 2014)