Craven Museum may currently be closed for redevelopment, but there is lots of work going on behind the scenes! We did a Q&A session with Bryan, our Collections Assistant, to find out a bit more about his role in the Craven Museum team.
Q: Hi Bryan, could you tell us a bit more about your role at Craven Museum?
A: I’m the Collections Assistant here at the Museum. I did a placement year at Craven Museum in 2016 whilst doing a BSc in Archaeology, and then joined the team permanently. My main role is looking after the collection, answering enquiries from the public and helping researchers. If someone wants to know something about a specific object, I’ll research it and give them any information we have in our collection. I also organise research visits. For example, I’ve recently been working with a few university researchers who have been looking into our archaeology collection, specifically looking at lithics, pottery, and animal bones.
Q: That sounds fascinating. How have you been involved in the Museum redesign and closure?
In the lead up to the Museum closing in September 2018, I was working with Rachel, our Museum & Collections Officer, selecting objects that will be going into the new museum exhibitions. This included researching the objects and photographing them so that new displays can be planned around them.
Whilst packing up the Museum objects, I mainly looked after the archaeology, making sure the boxes were safe for transport and storage. This often involved adding extra padding and protection in the boxes, and checking heavy objects were not in boxes with fragile ones.
Q: Seems like you’ve been very busy! What have you been up to since the Museum closed?
A: One big task that I’ve recently completed involved putting away all of the lithics that were out on display in the Museum.
Worked stone tools (or lithics) from the Stone Age. The examples here (from left to right) are a knife, arrowhead, horseshoe scraper and a hammer stone
This was an intricate job that involved matching up the museum numbers on the lithics with the correct packaging, and then making sure they were stored away safely, as many of the lithics are small and fragile. This also gave me the opportunity to look at them in detail, and I found some unique and interesting examples that could be good for future research.
We also had a large collection of archaeological finds deposited from an excavation site in Grassington, which I accessioned (added to to the collection), and added to our Museum database. This means that these finds can now be researched further in the future.
As well as this, I’ve begun more in depth research for the new Museum exhibitions, for example finding out more information about key archaeological sites in Craven, such as Elbolton Cave. I’ve also been looking into some of the rare objects that will be in the new displays, such as a Jadeite axehead from the end of the Stone Age period, and a bronze age sword.
Jadeite polished axehead. Jadeite came from the alps, and was difficult to craft and polish. It is thought this axehead was used for ceremonial or symbolic purposes.
Q: What would you say are some of your favourite objects in the Museum collection?
A: We have a great collection of Bronze Age artefacts that are really interesting, particularly an intact piece of woollen cloth from Scale Barrow – a local Craven excavation site – as well as numerous Bronze Age swords and axes. The period is particularly intriguing for me, as there is a lot of mystery about objects from this era and what they were used for. The artefacts are also very well-designed with great craftsmanship, and due to the nature of bronze, are in really good condition.
Dark brown woollen Bronze Age cloth, found in a barrow containing a tree trunk coffin burial
Bronze Age dagger blade with slightly raised ridge running down the centre of the blade. Two rivet holes at the base would have been used to attach it to a handle. Approx 1400-1200 BC
Q: You’ve also been really involved with the creation of the new Museum – what is one of the things you are most excited about when the Museum reopens?
A: New storage facilities will really improve the way we can keep the collection, particularly for some of our objects that are harder to store, such as the geology items.
I’m also excited to see new objects on display that haven’t been out before, as it will be great to show more of our collection! We have a new Anglo-Saxon hanging bowl that has recently come to the Museum, which is a really unique find. More research has also been done on our objects that were out before, so visitors can learn more about them.
An escutcheon from an Anglo-Saxon hanging bowl. For more information, visit the Portable Antiquities website
Thanks Bryan for taking the time to tell us about your fascinating role here at Craven Museum!