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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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!

Craven Treasures

We have been exploring ancient worlds and designing fascinating creatures with our family craft workshops! Last Friday was the very first of our summer craft Make & Take workshops in the Hub at Skipton Town Hall. It was amazing to see so many familiar faces from our workshops last year!

Using tiny fragments of mosaic found at the site of Kirk Sink villa in Gargrave as our inspiration, we created our own mosaic patterns using multi-coloured paper tiles. Wealthy Romans often decorated the floors of their homes with vast mosaics, using everyday scenes as well as myths and historical events to create intricate patterns using tiny coloured tiles called tesserae. We took inspiration from our town and made some special mosaic sheep!

Dinosaurs went extinct about 65 million years ago but this week saw an invasion of prehistoric creatures! We saw some amazing creations, from a T-rex with an array of different hats to dragons chasing a princess from her tower! A huge thank you to our volunteers Kathy and Chloe who helped at both of the events.

We have a summer full of activities planned and look forward to seeing you all again next Friday at the Hub 10am-midday and every Friday until 30th August!

  • Make & Take on the road- we will be making a special stop at Burton-in-Lonsdale Village Hall on Wednesday 7th August for even more craft fun. Join us there for a free drop-in event.

Family Fun Morning

Our blog this week has been written by our new volunteer Chloe, who is helping with our family craft workshops throughout the summer. Thanks Chloe!

Last Wednesday, Craven Museum was at Aireville Park in Skipton again for the annual Family Fun Morning. This was a fantastic event to kick off the Summer Holidays with lots of activities on offer, made even better by the lovely weather (thankfully not as hot as Thursday!). We set ourselves up next to the bouncy castle and face-painting, which remained extremely popular throughout the morning, and there was a fantastic atmosphere all round.

We brought with us a varied selection of interesting objects from the museum’s handling collection. Everyone enjoyed getting their gloves on and channelling their inner-historian to guess what the items were and who may have used them. They ranged from ancient objects including fossils, a Stone Age axe and Roman mosaics found in Gargrave to more recent items, such as a box of Sylko threads manufactured at Belle Vue Mills in Skipton and a tiny pair of leather shoes worn by young factory workers.

Some of our younger visitors were shocked to discover that, had they been alive in Victorian times, they too would have been factory workers rather than school children.

In addition to object handling, we also hosted some craft activities. Visitors had great fun making origami rabbits, cats and other animals from beautiful patterned paper, as well as miniature spinning windmills. The slight breeze made this all the more exciting, with some creatures making an escape off the table!

We had a very busy and successful morning with lots of great feedback from the many people who came. Craven Museum will continue to host free events for the local community throughout the holidays, including Make & Take craft sessions every Friday at the Hub in the Town Hall, 10-12 noon. We hope to see you there!

My Work Experience With Craven Museum

This week Katie from South Craven School came to do some work experience at the Museum. See below for her blog post about her time with us!

This week I had the pleasure of being able to complete my work experience with the Craven museum team. It has been very helpful offering me an insight of what working in museums and galleries could potentially be like. In addition, I have been able to experiment with different skills such as organising information and photogrammetry (more on that later) but most importantly, working with the museum has allowed me to gain an appreciation of the rich levels of heritage and culture that surround me in this historic part of England, an aim which I’m sure the museum are very pleased to have achieved.

Day one greeted me with a friendly introduction to the group and an overall summary of what my role as a volunteer would be. Gemma, the community heritage curator and who I would be shadowing, introduced me to the museum’s project of ‘Mystery Boxes’. Mystery boxes are large chests full of historical items which are free to go out into the public and education systems for all to enjoy. Each box has a different theme and inside contains an array of different historical artefacts relating to the theme. For example, my box was titled ‘Childhood Memories’ and contained over 30 items which were popular or used in the 1940s and 50s such as a rationing book, various vinyls, the 1955 Lion annual and interestingly a ‘Holidays at home booklet’ which was given out to the people of Skipton during WW2. The booklet aimed to encourage residents to stay at home for the holiday season in order to restrict public transport; it describes a variety of activities taking place in the summer, such as dances, to compensate for the restriction of travel. It was my job to organise the items and provide descriptions of their historical significance whilst also creating potential activities which could be done in schools.

photo 2

The ‘Childhood memories’ Mystery Box

Gemma also showed me the proper and professional way to handle historical artefacts giving me a brief look at some of the items the collection has. Although the museum is currently closed for refurbishment, I still managed to see many different objects and fossils. One which I particularly liked was a late Victorian teddy bear that was very worn down and damaged, obviously due to the amount of love he had been given throughout the decades. After I had told Gemma I was interested in working in museums she was very helpful with answering any of my questions, as where the rest of the team, she even showed me the system which they use to categorise all their items, probably over 60,000 in their entire collection!

photo 1

Taking the pictures which would later be transfered to the software to produce a 3D model

In the final few days Gemma and I began to teach ourselves the process of photogrammetry which produces 3D virtual images of any object, a gruelling but rewarding process. I chose to work with a prehistoric brown bear humerus bone which was found in the late 19th century at Elbolton Cave, North Yorkshire. The bone itself is impressive due to its great condition, but did make for a difficult image to photograph. However, after several days I managed to construct a (somewhat) 3D image of the bone, although the image is not complete I am still very pleased with how it turned out and I am very interested to see what other virtual models the museum will be able to compose in the future.

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!

Continue reading