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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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!

Hands-On History at Settle and Ingleton!

Craven Museum on Tour is now well underway and in April we took the Library Roadshow to Settle and Ingleton, with our new Community Heritage Curator, Gemma Bailey.

We brought along our handling collection for more hands-on history sessions, which included some replica toys from the past such as a Jacob’s ladder and a spinning top.

We also continued collecting people’s stories and photographing their fantastic objects for our online People’s Museum. One of the objects brought to Settle was a 40 year old handmade teddy, who still has a working growl!

A handmade teddy!

In Ingleton, we were shown some fragments of pottery, collected by young enthusiast Sienna. Some are thought to be from the Medieval period (the two in the middle with the yellow/green glaze), and one is thought to be an example of transfer ware from the 1800s (the decorated blue and white piece).


A collection of pottery found in a local Ingleton back garden and from the riverside

We also had a letter written in 1915 by Wilfred Brown, the owner’s relative, who was a soldier serving in the trenches in France in the First World War. Unfortunately, he was killed in action before the letter ever reached its recipient.


A letter from Wilfred Own, a soldier in WW1

For more information on these objects and the others we received, check out our People’s Museum page. Do you have an object that is precious to you? We are still visiting libraries taking photographs and noting stories at our upcoming roadshows if you would like to share them with us. We want to see any objects that are special to you – they don’t have to be valuable or rare, just important to you!

Thank you to all visitors who attended and to our fantastic volunteers for helping out.

History of the Craven Museum

As the HLF refurbishment opens up an exciting new chapter in Craven Museum’s life, we’ve been working on a timeline of the Museum throughout the years since it was founded in 1928.

Click the images below to see the wonderful photos of the Museum in our collection and learn some fun facts about its history!

Do you have any more information about any of the photographs in our slideshow? Please feel free to contact us at or using our contact form. Alternatively, you can call us on 01756 706407.

Have a photo or fact of your own that you’d like to share? Post it in the comments below or send it to us directly using the links above!


We’re putting together an exciting timeline of the history of Craven Museum since it was founded in 1928. See the image below for a sneak peek of what’s to come!

Craven Museum in Skipton Library

Craven Museum when it was housed in Skipton Library in the 1930s.

Have you got a photograph you’ve taken of Craven Museum between 1930 and 1980? Would you like it to feature in our Craven Museum timeline? If so, please contact us at!