Great Get Together

Last Sunday, Craven Museum was at Aireville Park in Skipton with some of our favourite objects as part of the Great Get Together family picnic. Inspired by the memory of Jo Cox MP and supported by the Jo Cox foundation, the Great Get Together is an excellent way for communities to come together.

We had lots of craft activities and everyone enjoyed making summer flowers and origami fish, cats and boats! Other activities across the park included face painting and craft activities, a shared picnic, a Quiet Teepee run by Skipton Library, and music on the bandstand from Skipton Community Orchestra, Skipton Ukulele Club, and the community choir All Together Now.

Throughout the day, our team shared museum objects such as the remains of roman mosaics found in Gargrave. Kirk Sink villa in Gargrave was discovered after a plough turned up a Roman mosaic floor. It was excavated most extensively between 1968 and 1975 and lots of colourful mosaics have been found throughout the remains of the villa buildings. The important rooms in the houses had more complex designs, often including geometric patterns. There is also evidence that the mosaics were replaced in some of the rooms throughout the period.

Roman mosaics were created from individual blocks called tesserae, and would be made from natural stone found in the local area. Sometimes decorative tiles made from special materials such as tile and pottery would be added in order to make the mosaics more impressive. Designs varied, but often included geometric patterns, or famous figures and scenes from history and mythology.

The day was a great success and the brilliant weather made it a perfect event! We can’t wait to share Craven Museum with the local community and we will be out and about again at The Craven Leisure Family Fun Morning on Wednesday 24th July from 10-12 noon with free activities for families to enjoy.


Craven and the First World War Project: A Reflection

As the centenary of the First World War comes to a close, we had a chat with Rob Freeman, the project officer for the Craven and the First World War Project, about his time working on the project and with Craven Museum.CFWWlogo - PNG

How did the Project come about, and what has it involved?

Craven and the First World War Project started in 2013, when community groups and organisations in Craven such as Craven Museum, The Folly Museum of North Craven Life, local schools and libraries, decided to commemorate the centenary of the First World War. They applied to the National Lottery Heritage Fund for funding, and I was brought into the project in 2014. Since then the project has had two phases. The first (2014-2017) included collecting people’s stories about WWI – particularly recording the memories of descendants – and exhibiting these stories at museums such as The Folly in Settle. We also put on lots of community events, for example drama productions like Tunstill’s Men, and a commemoration concert with local musicians. The second phase of the project (2017-2019) has focused on Raikeswood Camp in Skipton, particularly finding out about the lives of the German Prisoners of War (POWs) who were held there.

How did you collect the stories about the First World War in Craven?

One of the main ways we captured people’s stories about WWI was through an oral history project. The exhibitions we ran in The Folly had generated lots of local interest from families who had ancestors in Craven during 1914-18, and many of them wanted to share their stories. There was also a call-out for participants in the Craven Herald. About 10 interviews were conducted overall with the help of our fantastic volunteers, who carried out the conversations and transcribed them afterwards. As it’s the centenary, all of the accounts were second or third hand, but we still got a large range of stories from people with different backgrounds, including men who went to fight abroad, clergymen who were posted in France, and Conscientious Objectors. The interviews really helped us to learn more about the lives of those from Craven in the First World War, and have been deposited in Craven Museum where anyone can request to listen to them or read the transcript if they would like to discover more.

What did the Raikeswood Camp part of the Project involve?

KiS front cover - compressedRaikeswood Camp is a very interesting and important part of Skipton’s First World War story. Work on building the camp began in 1914, and it was used as a British training camp for new recruits between 1915-16, including the Bradford Pals. In 1918, it changed role and became a Prisoner of War camp for German soldiers. To find out more about the history of the camp, you can visit the Raikeswood Camp website. Whilst the POWs occupied the camp, they produced many pieces of writing and drawings about their experiences, and after the war these were compiled in a book called Kriegsgefangen in Skipton. The book is now being translated by the Legacies of War team at the University of Leeds, led by Anne Buckley, and will be published in spring 2020. You can read extracts and learn more about the project at their website.

As part of the Craven in the First World War Project, we also undertook two archaeological digs at the Raikeswood camp site. The first involved an excavation at the main dig site – an open field that Yorkshire family portrait photographerhasn’t been developed on at the Raikeswood estate. The second included a more thorough dig at the field site, but we were also lucky enough to have local residents allow us to dig small plots in their gardens so that we could uncover even more of the camp’s history. We invited local schools and community groups to get involved in the digging along with our professional and community archaeologists. There were also site open days where the public could come and learn about the history of the camp and what we found – they could even get involved in the digging themselves!

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It’s Volunteers’ Week!

Volunteers’ Week takes place every year from the 1-7 of June, and is a chance to celebrate all of the fantastic work our volunteers do here at Craven Museum. Between February and May we’ve been running a cataloguing project, where our volunteers have been working through our ephemera collection and adding previously unrecorded objects to our Museum database, so that they can be used for future research. They have also been helping out at our Craven Museum on Tour events, showing visitors our fascinating handling collection.

On the 4th of June we invited our volunteers to a tea and cake afternoon to show our appreciation, and to have a chat with them about their work.


We asked them to describe in three words what their experience of volunteering at Craven Museum has been like. Check out the image below to see what they said!

NewWordCloud2We also had a chat with Martin, one of our long-standing volunteers who has also been involved in our recent cataloguing project, about his time at Craven Museum.

Martin, what inspired you to start volunteering at Craven Museum?

I started volunteering around 10 years ago when I heard that Craven Museum was recruiting some new volunteers. I never studied history formally, but I got into it as a hobby and wanted to get more involved with the Museum. I really enjoy learning about Medieval Britain and the War of the Roses, but I don’t have a favourite period in history – all of it is fascinating . Keeping an open mind means you sometimes come across stories and past events that you never thought would be interesting, but are actually really intriguing!

You have recently been working on the Volunteer Cataloguing Project – what have you found during this time?

Recently we have discovered a large quantity of papers relating to the Dewhurst Mill estate, which have been a really unexpected find. Dewhurst’s was one of the largest Mills in Skipton, but these papers talk about the properties that the family owned around the town, not the day-to-day business of the mill. They cover everything from property repairs and correspondence about access, to water pipes and building rights. The collection includes lots of old maps, which show properties that have now been demolished, along with lists of tenants who lived in the buildings – it’s like a jigsaw putting it all together! It’s also a really valuable resource, as it may be able to help people who are interested in researching their family history, or looking into the history of certain areas in Skipton.

Dewhurst Mill ephemera documents from the cataloguing project.

That’s great! So overall, why do you like volunteering at Craven Museum?

I love the fact that you never know what you’re going to find in the collection! Working on the ephemera boxes is particularly interesting, as you often find documents that contain ‘little history’ stories – not big events, but small pieces of information that tell you about the lives of ordinary people living in Craven. There’s also a good volunteering community, and it’s nice to meet new people and spend time with others who you have something in common with.

Thank you to all of our wonderful volunteers who contribute a huge amount to Craven Museum! Would you like to get involved in volunteering yourself? Feel free to contact us about our upcoming projects.