Your Memories – the Project is Underway!

As part of our Stories and Treasures of Street and Dales project, the Museum team and our fantastic volunteers have been out and about in Craven collecting the incredible untold stories of local people.

After a very interesting oral history workshop in September, where we learnt the best techniques to use for carrying out our interviews, we sent a call out to locals asking if they would like to share their memories with the museum team.

As part of the process, we visited coffee mornings and local groups to speak to Craven people who might want to take part. We also published some inspirational images in the Craven Herald that we hoped would spark some interesting stories – take a look at the gallery below!


We’ve had some brilliant responses and have interviewed 10 people as part of the project. The interviews are currently being transcribed in full, but here are a few extracts that give an exciting insight into some of the stories that have been shared with us.

“So there’s all these… aspect[s] of caving, as well as the adrenaline, feeling the fear like I say, and loving it and going beyond your own boundaries as a person. Because you have to in my sort of style of caving. I’m what’s known as a pusher – now a pusher is someone who goes beyond where the guide book says ‘the cave finishes here’.”

Richard, a local caver

“[The grocer’s shop] had vans that went right, they used to go up to Arncliffe, you know right up the Dales. My Dad used to go round, for example on a Monday, then they’d deliver on a Wednesday. Dad took the orders, then took the orders back to the shop. The orders were put up, and then they were taken out and delivered… he took his duplicate book with him and wrote down what they wanted… I used to go with him up the Dales and take a picnic, and get everybody’s order.”

Margaret, whose Dad owned the grocer’s ‘Stockdale & Helm’s’ in Skipton

“[Talking about his pair of clogs] A man called Alph Whiteoak made them… I used to pick his milk up and asked me, he said he made clogs. I always wore clogs so I asked him to make me a pair and those clogs, I got them… I think it were about 1968… I used to wear them going abroad. They all, the Italians and the French, looked at me clogs and couldn’t weigh them up at all… [They were] ‘clogged’ for me, which is [to add] a new wood sole, but it was the same clog, it was the same top. So those clogs lasted me until I gave up driving. They lasted me until 2002.”

John, who owned his own haulage business

We’re hoping to use some of these interviews to help enrich our new museum exhibits, allowing the voices of local people to contribute to the amazing story of Craven throughout the years.

Have these stories inspired you to share a memory of growing up, living or working in Craven? It’s not too late to take part! Check out our ‘Your Memories’ page for more information about how you can get involved in the project.

Merry Christmas from Craven Museum!

In the blog this week, we take a look at some of the festive treats in our collection:

We have many different examples of Christmas cards in the collection at Craven Museum. Some are mass produced and some are handmade, most were sent or received by people living in Craven.

Christmas cards were first used during the Victorian period and the first commercially available Christmas card was created in 1843 by Sir Henry Cole, a civil servant and the first director of the Victoria and Albert Museum. Before the creation of the first Christmas card, people would often exchange handwritten greetings. One year, when Henry Cole found he didn’t have enough time to reply to all of his acquaintances at Christmas, he commissioned his friend John Callcott Horsley to illustrate a greeting card instead.

Christmas has been celebrated for hundreds of years and falls in winter when traditionally rural Britain had very little work. Workers welcomed a celebration at this time of year as a break from bad weather and long nights. Rather than showing winter themes or religious scenes, early British cards were often decorated with images of nature such as animals and flowers to remind people that spring was coming.

People have made their own Christmas cards since the 19th century and homemade cards can hold sentimental value compared to mass produced cards. Some of the cards in our collection have been made using hand embroidery onto fabric, like these examples below:

Have you made your own Christmas cards this year? We’d love to see your homemade designs!

The Moving Museum

During September and October our Community Heritage Curator Gemma and artists Ailsa and Lucy from Pioneer Projects took to the road with an assortment of curious objects from the museum collection and a supply of art materials.  Read on to discover more about their project:

We wanted to deliver a series of sessions in Settle, Bentham, Ingleton, Grassington and Skipton focused on creativity and imagination. ‘The Moving Museum’ sessions were principally designed for older people and people living with long term neurological conditions, including Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia, as well as their caregivers.

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We held the six sessions in public spaces throughout the Craven district and passing members of the public were warmly welcomed and encouraged to handle the objects and create their own artwork. We had a fantastic team of volunteers who had attended specialised training provided by Pioneer Projects and supported participants during the sessions.

The sessions were relaxed and welcoming, allowing everyone to participate at their own pace. We began with refreshments and introductions, followed by a handling session and discussion of a range of objects. Some of the objects came from the geology collection. Handling these beautiful shells, fossils and minerals inspired immediate enjoyment of the colours and textures, and amazement at how they had formed, sometimes over millions of years. Other objects came from the museum’s social history collection, relating to home life, working life and childhood, and inspired fascinating stories and sparked conversations.

We talked about the possible, probable, and sometimes improbable, uses for the objects. We imagined how they were made, who might have used them and heard personal stories prompted by them.

We then moved on to the artwork, using a printmaking technique called trace monoprint.  This was the first time many of the participants had used this technique and most did not consider themselves to be good at art. But everyone had a go, and found the process absorbing and fun. You can see some of their amazing results below:

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The artwork created by participants and volunteers will be on display in our touring exhibition:

Looking Well Studios, Bentham 18th November- 12th December

Devonshire Institute, Grassington 13th December to 5th January

Ingleborough Community Centre, Ingleton 6th January to 24th January

If you would like to know more about this or other projects run by Craven Museum and Galley or Pioneer Projects please contact: 

Craven Museum and Gallery: 01756 700600

Pioneer Projects (Celebratory Arts): 015242 62672

Craven Caves: The Hidden World Beneath Us

Next year, the Museum will re-open with a brand new gallery for showcasing the very best of our vast collection. During this temporary closure, Museum staff are hard at work selecting the objects that will be re-displayed; researching their history and writing labels to accompany them. We are working with local groups within the Craven community to make sure we don’t miss anything important from our new displays and last month we met with members of Craven Pothole Club who have kindly donated some amazing new objects that we can’t wait to display next year- so we thought we’d give you a sneak peek!

During early expeditions, cavers needed a huge amount of equipment. Members of Craven Pothole Club donated a collection of helmets and caving lamps dating from 1920 onwards, including Albert Mitchell’s carbide lamp and helmet. Albert was a famous local caver, Craven Herald reporter and founder of Craven Pothole Club in 1929. The carbide lamps donated were used until relatively recently. They worked by putting water in the top compartment with calcium carbide in the base. Water would drip down and produce acetylene fuel for the lamp. CPC also donated a (very heavy!) miners NIFE light with lead acid battery which the caver would clip onto their outfit.

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We were lucky enough to receive an early example of a pressed cardboard helmet. As you can imagine, these could get very wet inside a cave and would often warp out of shape. The caver would have to re-shape the helmet after it got wet otherwise they would dry warped and they wouldn’t be able to put them back on! They now use plastic helmets with LED lighting.

Cavers first used early wooden and hemp rope ladders to descend into the caves. They started to use electron ladders up until the mid-eighties, but these were light and could easily break, so they moved towards using single rope technique (SRT). Cavers would use abseiling techniques to get in and climb out using rock climbing pitons (a metal spike driven into a crack which acts as an anchor) that clamped onto rock.

The Pothole Club members also told us about the process of mapping caves. Mapping is important in showing how caves join up and connect. This used to be done using a compass, climb meter and tape. More recently, caves would be mapped using radio devices from the surface and laser measuring of the caves.

We hope that these donated objects will give visitors an insight into how caving equipment has changed over the years and highlight some of the challenges faced by cavers as they explore the hidden world beneath Craven! We will also be acquiring a full caving outfit from the club that will take pride of place in the new Museum gallery next year.

A special thank you to our caver friends and members of Craven Pothole Club for their ongoing support of this project.

3D scanning brings objects to life

Our blog this week was written by members of North Yorkshire Youth Skipton Girls Group. Read on to find out how they got involved with Craven Museum this summer:

We are North Yorkshire Youth Skipton Girls Group and we met at Skipton Children and Families Hub for four weeks in the summer holidays. We have been making 3D models of museum artefacts. We first looked at a rhino tooth, a hyena tooth and a bear jaw that were found in Victoria and Elbolton caves in Craven. We then took many different pictures of the objects at two different angles using a light tent, so that all the images we took were very similar. That is important because then the software can match them all up. Then we used a software called Agisoft photo scan to cut around all the objects to seperate the artefacts from the background. We then set the software off to try and find all the points on the artefact to match up to each other to create the 3D image.

You can see some of the stages in the pictures below:

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The models will be on display in the museum when they reopen so come and have a look! You can take a sneak peek at our creations on Craven Museum’s Sketchfab page:

One week we looked at an old newspaper from 1868 which was an old copy of the Craven Herald. The same week we looked at mosaics that were about 1800 years old and they were found at Kirk Sink villa in Gargrave. We then made our own mosaics! On the last week we looked at a pair of old clogs that were very small and probably belonged to a young child that probably worked in a mill and wore the shoes to work. We then made our own loom out of paper by tying our wool to the loom (which is called the warp) and then threaded our weft under and over our warp!

A huge thank you to North Yorkshire Youth Skipton Girls Groups for making the  3D scans for our gallery and for writing this brilliant blog post!

The Art of Listening

This week, some of our volunteers and staff have been learning more about working creatively with people living with dementia and how to record the unique stories of ordinary people. Read on to find out more:

Your Memories- Oral History workshop

As part of the National Heritage Lottery Funded project ‘Stories and Treasures of Street and Dale’, staff and volunteers at Craven Museum are collecting the fascinating oral histories of people from the Craven community. Oral Histories are the stories of ordinary people and everyone has a unique story to tell. Staff and volunteers spent the day learning about the process so that they can start interviewing and recording stories themselves. We were joined by Louise Price, Heritage Freelancer and Part-Time Curator (George Marshall Medical Museum), who gave us an insight into the importance of oral histories and how best to record them.  

We covered some of the ethics of recording and copyright issues, before moving on to interview techniques. We all had a go at interviewing ‘Sally’ and faced some of the issues that might present themselves when making a recording such as a noisy pet in the background or an overly helpful spouse! Our volunteers learnt about the importance of making sure their interviewee is comfortable and has an understanding of what their story will be used for. We also practiced using open questions that allow conversation to flow to get a good oral history.

In the afternoon, Louise talked us through transcribing the recordings we make. This will be a long process but it is really important that we have a written copy of the interview, in case the recording is lost and also to make copies that we can put on display in the gallery for people who might not be able to hear the recording.

We are really excited to have some new volunteers joining us on this project and can’t wait to go out and start recording your stories and memories! If you would like to take part, take a look at our website or contact the museum on 01756 706407

The Moving Museum training day

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On Monday we had a training day for some of our staff, volunteers and new volunteer recruits! Ailsa Lewer from Pioneer Projects led a morning session ‘Introduction to Dementia’ and got us thinking about ways we are creative in our everyday lives. We also thought about how being creative can make people feel and which factors can sometimes stop us from being creative. In the afternoon session, we all had a go at making our own monoprint! This is a simple etching where ink is transferred from a plate to paper. We were really impressed with how they turned out!

The Moving Museum will have 6 sessions held around Craven for people living with dementia and their carers, to come along and be inspired by the museum collection to make their own monoprints. Even if people have never made a print before or thought of themselves as ‘creative’, they will discover their creativity and produce some amazing artwork that will be on display throughout Craven in December.

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If you or someone you know would like to be involved in The Moving Museum, either as a volunteer to help facilitate the sessions or as a participant, contact Ailsa on 07835 503449 or Gemma at

Curious Creatures on Tour!

In 1811, the Craven Heifer was taken on tour around the country and exhibited as the largest cow ever shown in England. Weighing 1,132 kg and measuring 3.4m long nose to tail and 1.6m at the shoulder, she was an incredible sight!

The Craven Heifer is on tour again, or at least a print of the famous animal, along with other curious creatures from Craven Museum for an exciting pop-up exhibition at The Folly Museum in Settle. Opening Saturday 14th September, this pop-up display will remain at The Folly until 22nd December alongside the Folly’s Curiosity exhibition.

This new display was created with the help of Craven Museum volunteers who have been researching the objects and revealing more about their intriguing histories. Here we give you a sneak-peek at some of the objects that will be on display.

In 1955, two young children stumbled across an unusual discovery in Skipton Woods. They had found a cast iron doorstop in the shape of a majestic lion. Nobody could explain how or why this doorstop found its way into Skipton Woods and people were fascinated. The children appeared in local newspapers and the V&A Museum were contacted to try and reveal more about this exciting find. The V&A museum responded, dating the doorstop to the early 19th century.

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We still don’t know today where the doorstop came from or how it ended up in Skipton Woods but the lion has been an important symbol to humans for many years.The symbolic form of a lion often represents strength and courage which might explain this doorstep, as a symbol of protection at the entrance to the home.

This is a view inside a frgament of mammoth tusk! Mammoths were ancestors of the modern elephant that went extinct more than 10,000 years ago and this fragment will be displayed at The Folly until December.

Visitors will also get a chance to see a Megalodon tooth from an extinct species of shark that lived millions of years ago and was the biggest prehistoric shark that ever lived. For hundreds of years, fossilised shark teeth were referred to as ‘tongue stones’ because many people thought they were actually the petrified tongues of dragons and snakes.

Behind the Scenes:

Rachel Terry (Museum & Collections Officer) and Gemma (Community Heritage Curator) condition checked the objects as we prepared to loan them to The Folly museum. They have been carefully packed by Lizzie and Megan and are now ready to go on their next adventure!

Visit The Folly to discover more for yourself from the 14th September, when we will be opening with a drop in family craft workshop 11:00-13:00, free on entry.

Your Craven Treasures

 The summer holidays have come to an end and we wanted to say a massive thank you to everyone involved in our summer activities! Over the last 7 weeks we have had so much fun crafting and creating with you all, out and about in Craven. Check out some of the amazing creations you made below:

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In our Make & Take workshops we have crafted our own Roman mosaic designs, moulded replica Neolithic clay pots, designed our own dinosaurs and made moving toys. We even created our own paper looms to produce unique weaving patterns! At one Make & Take workshop we made our own Treasure Maps using old maps of Skipton as inspiration! We looked at maps from the 1700s, 1800s, 1910 and 1970 and we were amazed to see how much Skipton has changed!

On 21st August we visited South Craven Community library in Cross Hills for a Roman Invasion! We loved sharing mosaics and plaster found at the Roman site, Kirk Sink Villa, and our visitors especially enjoyed handling a Roman oil lamp! We  even had a couple of intriguing coins brought to our ‘People’s Museum’ that you can see below.

We couldn’t have had such a successful summer without the help of our volunteers so thank you for all your help!

We will have more Make & Take crafts in the October half term holiday. Come along on Wednesday 30th October 10:00-12:00 and Friday 1st November 10:00-12:00 at the Hub, Skipton Town Hall.

Join us for our next Rural Roadshow at Gargrave and Malhamdale Community Library Wednesday 30th October 14:00-16:00 and bring along your own treasures to feature in our online ‘People’s Museum’.

Rural Roadshow comes to Kildwick & Farnhill!

This weekend we brought the rural roadshow to Kildwick and Farnhill Institute. It was another opportunity for visitors to come and have an up-close look at some of our historic items.

Visitors taking part in some hands-on history with one of our dedicated volunteers

Kildwick and Farnhill History Group also came along to show visitors some of their recent projects. It was a very busy morning with plenty to see and do!

We also continued our People’s Museum project, where visitors have been bringing us some of their own precious items to take a look at. We saw some very interesting objects, including a carved stone head found bricked in face down in the wall of a Farnhill garden shed. It was only discovered when the owner pulled the shed down!

A carved stone head found in the walls of a shed in Farnhill

A member of the Kildwick and Farnhill History Group also showed us a fascinating object that belonged to one of their relatives. It is known as a Bristow Coil and was named after Walter Rowley Bristol. He was an orthopaedic surgeon who developed the use of Faraday’s principle of using electromagnetically controlled voltages for treating joint and muscle injuries. It was also used during WWI to treat injured servicemen.

A Bristow Coil that used electromagnetic voltages to treat join and muscle injuries

To see all the other fantastic objects brought along on the day, visit our People’s Museum page. Have you got your own treasure that you’d like to share with Craven Museum? Check out our events page to see our upcoming Roadshows!

Thanks to all our visitors and volunteers who helped out on the day.

Pottery- old & new

We are half way through the summer holidays and we have been as busy as ever!

On Wednesday we travelled to Burton in Lonsdale to hold a Make & Take craft workshop in the village hall. Lots of people braved the wet weather and joined us to make dinosaurs, sheep and mosaics! A big thank-you to volunteers Jean, Janet and Ruth for helping to run the workshop and making sure everyone had such a great time! We hope to be back to visit soon.


On Thursday, our staff and volunteers went to York to meet Anne Jenner, a specialist in Medieval pottery at York Archaeological Trust who gave us plenty of tips to help research and document the pottery that was found in a site behind the Town Hall. Over the next three months, our collections volunteers will be identifying different types of pottery and we will be sharing more about these finds in a future blog- watch this space!

At Skipton Town Hall this morning we travelled back in time to create our own Neolithic clay pots! We got very messy and had lots of fun!  You can join us next Friday 16th August at Skipton Town Hall 10:00-12:00 where we will be making our own looms and learning how to weave. No need to book, just drop-in and see us!