Craven Museum on Tour comes to Cross Hills!

At our Craven Museum on Tour Library Roadshow event at Cross Hills, we invited our work experience students Libby and David to come along and get involved with a morning of hands-on history. The post below was written by David.

On the 29th of May we travelled to the Cross Hills Library and met some of the amazing people there. The museum brought their handling collection along including a replica stone age hand axe. Some people even brought their own items in and it was an overall great day!

Some of the objects brought in were absolutely amazing like this cook book from 1869! The cook book even described the oven as a ‘Modern oven’ which it is obviously not but it was in 1869. It even shows the changes to kitchen appliances such as the toaster in the book is just a box.

There was also this very interesting book which taught mothers how to give treatment to their child if it was required with the medical knowledge they had at the time which was around 1930.

See the rest of the objects people brought in on the People’s Museum page.


Neolithic pottery experts Mike and Claire

Mike and his wife Claire was also there with their amazing Neolithic replica pot collection which Mike made himself based on original archeological finds.

Thank you to all of the wonderful staff at Cross Hills library, to our volunteers and to work experience students! To find out more about what’s on at Cross Hills library, just follow this link. To find out about our upcoming library roadshows and museum events, check out our Events page!

Neolithic Pot Making

Whilst the museum is closed we are visiting schools around Craven with our specially created Discovery boxes. Each box is filled with real and replica examples of museum objects and each box has a different theme. Our university work placement student Megan has been creating our latest box about the Stone Age.

After deciding on the objects that we would like to include in the box, we set about finding objects in the collection. As we have a limited amount of Stone Age objects in the museum collection that would be suitable for handling, we decided to source our own! Graham Harrison at Sun Jester created some fantastic replicas for us, such as a hand axe, arrow heads and a bone needle which were then packed into our Discovery box. Megan designed a special teacher’s pack, a timeline and activities to go in the box too. However, we had one object missing! We really wanted to include a replica Neolithic pot because this would be a great example of the first pottery made in Britain and it would be great to have a version that people could touch and learn more about.

With the help of Dr Mike Copper, we learnt the traditional techniques for making a Neolithic pot. The whole process takes quite a while. First, clay has to be sourced and Mike knows all the best spots for collecting naturally occuring clay! The pot is then formed using similar techniques that would have been used during the Neolithic period, starting with a flat, round base and building height using rolls or ‘sausages’ of clay. Once the pot is tall enough and all the cracks and joins have been smoothed out, the next step is to decorate the pots! Mike has created his own replica tools that he uses to create traditional decorations. It’s then time to fire the pot! A small fire is built and when it becomes hot enough, the dried pots are carefully added and covered with peat. More fuel is added throughout the firing to keep the pots covered, making sure that the heat is evenly distributed. Finally, once the fuel has burnt down, the finished pots are revealed! You can see more about this process below:

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The finished pots will be added to our Stone Age Discovery box for schools to borrow. Students will get a chance to touch pots that have been crafted in an almost identical way to how the first pottery would have been made. Making the pots was a lot of fun and helped us to understand the processes used and the tools and techniques that were developed. We hope that this hands-on experience will help students learn more about the Stone Age.

If your school or organisation would like to borrow one of our Discovery boxes, you can contact us at

Meet the Team: Gemma Bailey, Community Heritage Curator

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 our newest member of staff; Gemma, our Community Heritage Curator, to find out a bit more about her role in the Craven Museum team.

Q: Hi Gemma, could you tell us a bit more about your role at Craven Museum?

A: My role is really exciting because I have the unique opportunity to take our museum collection out into the community. The museum may be closed for the time being, but we are working hard to keep the museum and its objects out in the public for everyone to enjoy. I am working with our volunteers and work placement students from local secondary schools, colleges and the University of Bradford to take some of our favourite objects to the Rural Roadshows. It’s brilliant to talk to people and hear stories about some of their own favourite treasures. I also take objects out to schools as part of our education outreach where we use real and replica objects to talk about history. Later this year, I will be working with Arts and Dementia groups to create and display artwork around Craven and I am also planning some pop-up exhibitions in places you wouldn’t usually expect to see them- so watch this space!

Q: That sounds really interesting! What events are coming up next?

A: Our next Rural Roadshow will be at Crosshills Library on the 29th May so we are hoping to meet lots more people and gather more stories for our People’s Museum. During the summer we will have Make and Take craft activities for families at many different sites around Craven, again with more chances to talk to our talented staff and volunteers about their favourite objects and have a go at handling the objects too! Later in the year, we will be inviting everyone to join us in recording interviews that we can use in our new galleries, collecting stories and memories that people have from growing up, living and working in Craven.

Behind the scenes, our amazing volunteers are cataloguing and researching our collection in preparation for the new museum opening. All our museum objects will be moved back into new stores once we reopen and many previously unseen objects will be on display, so our volunteers are busy finding interesting stories we can share.

Q: What events and activities can we look forward to once the museum reopens?

A: We will use the new museum space to host specialist talks and workshops for people of all ages both during the day and in the evening. I am especially looking forward to giving behind the scenes tours of the new galleries and in the museum stores, so everyone can see the changes that have been made. We will also have the temporary exhibition gallery for exhibitions inspired by our collections and the community.

Q: What is one of the things you are most excited about when the Museum reopens?

A: I am most excited about the new gallery spaces because we will have areas where members of the public and community groups can contribute to what is on display in the museum. The galleries will become a real hub, incorporating heritage from the whole of Craven and you will see that by the contributions from members of the community, expressing their own memories and creativity. We will also have a fantastic new education space that will allow more schools than ever to access the collections.

Thanks Gemma for taking the time to tell us about your fascinating role here at Craven Museum!