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 museum@cravendc.gov.uk 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 museum@cravendc.gov.uk!

Meet the Team: Bryan, Collections Assistant

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 Bryan, our Collections Assistant, to find out a bit more about his role in the Craven Museum team.

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

A: I’m the Collections Assistant here at the Museum. I did a placement year at Craven Museum in 2016 whilst doing a BSc in Archaeology, and then joined the team permanently. My main role is looking after the collection, answering enquiries from the public and helping researchers. If someone wants to know something about a specific object, I’ll research it and give them any information we have in our collection. I also organise research visits. For example, I’ve recently been working with a few university researchers who have been looking into our archaeology collection, specifically looking at lithics, pottery, and animal bones.


Q: That sounds fascinating. How have you been involved in the Museum redesign and closure?

In the lead up to the Museum closing in September 2018, I was working with Rachel, our Museum & Collections Officer, selecting objects that will be going into the new museum exhibitions. This included researching the objects and photographing them so that new displays can be planned around them.

Whilst packing up the Museum objects, I mainly looked after the archaeology, making sure the boxes were safe for transport and storage. This often involved adding extra padding and protection in the boxes, and checking heavy objects were not in boxes with fragile ones.


Q: Seems like you’ve been very busy! What have you been up to since the Museum closed?

A: One big task that I’ve recently completed involved putting away all of the lithics that were out on display in the Museum.

Lithic Examples

Worked stone tools (or lithics) from the Stone Age. The examples here (from left to right) are a knife, arrowhead, horseshoe scraper and a hammer stone

This was an intricate job that involved matching up the museum numbers on the lithics with the correct packaging, and then making sure they were stored away safely, as many of the lithics are small and fragile. This also gave me the opportunity to look at them in detail, and I found some unique and interesting examples that could be good for future research.

We also had a large collection of archaeological finds deposited from an excavation site in Grassington, which I accessioned (added to to the collection), and added to our Museum database. This means that these finds can now be researched further in the future.

As well as this, I’ve begun more in depth research for the new Museum exhibitions, for example finding out more information about key archaeological sites in Craven, such as  Elbolton Cave. I’ve also been looking into some of the rare objects that will be in the new displays, such as a Jadeite axehead from the end of the Stone Age period, and a bronze age sword.

Jadeite Axehead

Jadeite polished axehead. Jadeite came from the alps, and was difficult to craft and polish. It is thought this axehead was used for ceremonial or symbolic purposes.


Q: What would you say are some of your favourite objects in the Museum collection?

A: We have a great collection of Bronze Age artefacts that are really interesting, particularly an intact piece of woollen cloth from Scale Barrow – a local Craven excavation site – as well as numerous Bronze Age swords and axes. The period is particularly intriguing for me, as there is a lot of mystery about objects from this era and what they were used for. The artefacts are also very well-designed with great craftsmanship, and due to the nature of bronze, are in really good condition.


Q: You’ve also been really involved with the creation of the new Museum – what is one of the things you are most excited about when the Museum reopens?

A: New storage facilities will really improve the way we can keep the collection, particularly for some of our objects that are harder to store, such as the geology items.

I’m also excited to see new objects on display that haven’t been out before, as it will be great to show more of our collection! We have a new Anglo-Saxon hanging bowl that has recently come to the Museum, which is a really unique find. More research has also been done on our objects that were out before, so visitors can learn more about them.

Anglo-Saxon Hanging Bowl

An escutcheon from an Anglo-Saxon hanging bowl. For more information, visit the Portable Antiquities website

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

Craven Museum goes on Tour!

Craven Museum may now be fully packed away, but the Museum team are still out and about bringing the Museum and some of its fantastic collection to you! Over the coming months, Craven Museum on Tour will be visiting local libraries in the Craven area for a day of hands on history, where you will also have the opportunity to bring in your own treasures for us to have a look at.

Our first library roadshow took place at Embsay Library and Village Hall on the 8th of February, and was a huge success. The Museum team brought along a variety of objects from the collection for a handling session, including some Roman pottery, a local newspaper from 1868 and an antique doll made over 150 years ago! Visitors had the opportunity to get up close and personal with the objects, and ask any question they might have.


One of our volunteers at the object handling stand

Alongside object handling, we also encouraged people to bring in their own heirlooms and treasures, and to tell us their stories. We got lots of objects, and some people chose to let us photograph their artefacts and add them to our new online ‘People’s Museum’ – click the link if you’d like to explore our current gallery of treasures! We got some fantastic stories and objects, such as a book of poems in Craven dialect:

Book of poems in the Craven dialect

And a teddy bear called Titi who was made in the early 1900s:

A teddy called Titi

As well as the Museum team, there were also lots of other local groups and activities at the event, such as a local archive display, children’s crafts and a Fairtrade café.

Are you interested in coming to a library roadshow yourself? Got an object to show us? Then come along to a future Craven Museum on Tour event (check out this page for upcoming dates). The next library roadshow will be at Settle on 23rd of April, 14:00-16:30.

Craven College takeover!

Episode 3 of Craven Museum’s podcast ‘Stories and Treasures’ is now out, and students from Craven College have taken over to create a very special episode!

Craven Museum staff visited Craven College to challenge the students to make podcast episodes for the Museum podcast, using objects from our handling collection as inspiration, and we have two featured on this episode- have a listen here:

Here are the two objects that Olivia Parry and Daniel Bullock took inspiration from:


If you want to listen to more episodes of ‘Stories and Treasures’, you can listen right here on this blog! Just click here

Empty Museum!

Through December, the Museum was being carefully packed away by Restore Harrow Green (have a look at Decembers blog post for more!), and now the Museum is completely empty, apart from a few cases.


Craven Museum after all the collection has been taken into storage

All the objects in the Museum stores and on display have now been taken into storage for the next 18 months whilst the Museum is being redeveloped and redesigned, and it’s looking a bit strange!


Craven Museum Stores after the collection has been taken into storage

It’s not just the Museum and Gallery that are being redeveloped in this period; the Concert Hall will be fully updated and restored, and Research and Education Spaces created, all forming part of an exciting cultural Hub at Skipton Town Hall.

So this can all get underway, Skipton Town Hall is now closed, with the exception of the Hub space, which is still available to hire for workshops and events (if you’re interested, just click here to follow this link for more info), and the fantastic Visitor Information Service is now temporarily based at 35 Coach Street, Skipton.

What will the Museum team be up to during these next 18 months you ask? Well, we’ll be working closely with the Museum Designers to finalise the new Museum displays, conducting research to further draw out the stories of objects going on display, and helping write interpretation panels, ensuring labelling of the many objects going on display are correct, and undertaking conservation works on some of our objects. We’ll also be taking the Museum out on tour, with pop-up displays and events, as well as working with volunteers to catalogue Museum objects (last time they assisted on a project like this they helped us catalogue almost 300 objects – an amazing amount!).

So although the Town Hall and Museum are closed, there will still be lots of activities and things to get involved in – stay tuned and key an eye on this page, and the Skipton Town Hall social media to keep updated.


Packing up!

Since Craven Museum closed in September, the team have been hard at work, going through the Collection, and packing the Museum displays safely away in their boxes. This was all in preparation for the whole Collection being taken off site and put into Storage whilst the exciting building work takes place to transform the Museum. As there are some pretty big pieces in the Museum (a lead Ore Crusher anyone?!), a professional team of movers needs to be brought in, and they are currently in the Museum as I type!

ore crusher

Lead Ore Crusher, Craven Museum

Restore Harrow Green are carefully packing some of the larger objects, such as the Woodturner’s Lathe, various Clocks and Cabinets, Pianos, and of course, our famous Hippo Skull, which has greeted many visitors into the Museum.

Harrow Green 3

Craven Museum in the middle of being packed up

Some of these objects are actually too large to fit down the stairs, so we’ve had to take out one of the windows in the Museum Store, and lifted them through the window! It was quite a nerve wracking morning:

They will soon be finished in the Museum, not only taking away the larger objects, but also taking away the whole collection to be safely stored whilst the Museum is redeveloped.

If you want to find out more about the logistical challenges the huge task of packing up a Museum of 60,000 objects posed the team and how they got round them, have a listen to Episode 2 of our brand new podcast! Working with the Media Department at Craven College, we have created a podcast to go ‘behind the scenes’, with all aspects of this redevelopment project – you can listen on iTunes and Spotify (just type ‘Stories and Treasures’ into the Search Bar and it should come up) or listen right here on this blog, by following this link:


The Museum team will also be relocating with a carefully selected group of objects, and will be working hard to get out and about in Craven with a special programme of events and activities, so keep an eye out for events near you! They will also be working with the Interpretation and Museum Designers to create the brand new Museum, so the New Year is set to be an exciting, busy one!

Ta – Dah!

In case you hadn’t guessed from our hint a few weeks ago, Craven Museum’s big news is that we have created a podcast with the help of Craven College Media Department!

Stories and Treasures (1)

Our podcast, ‘Stories and Treasures’, aims to really get behind-the-scenes by chatting to everyone involved in the project. We will be talking to the Museum team, Volunteers, Museum Designers and Interpretation writers, and finding out what they do as part of this Heritage Lottery Funded redevelopment – and we are very excited to say that two Episodes are already out!

You can listen to ‘Stories and Treasures’ in iTunes and Spotify or you can listen to it right here on our blog – either click ‘Podcast’ on the Menu bar, or follow this link which will take you straight there: https://storiesandtreasures.wordpress.com/podcast/

We’ll be continuing to work with Craven College and have challenged students in the Media Department to take inspiration from objects in the collection and create episodes for the podcasts, which will be featured on ‘Stories and Treasures’. Read about it here: https://www.craven-college.ac.uk/news/media/behind-the-scenes-at-craven-museum/

We hope you enjoy it!

Meet the Team: Megan, University Placement Student

Here is a special blog post from Megan, an Archaeology Student from University who is undertaking her placement here at Craven Museum:

I have just recently begun a year long work placement here at Craven Museum as part of my Archaeology degree at Bradford University. I am particularly interested in Greek and Roman history (and there are plenty of Roman Artefacts here at the Museum! My particular favourite one is the Roman intaglio, an oval shaped amethyst with a scene from Greek mythology on it)



Roman Intaglio from Craven Museum


So far I have been working with the amazing staff as part of the Heritage Lottery Funded project to redevelop the Museum. At the moment, we are focusing on prepping the objects for storage whilst the Museum is redeveloped. As part of this, I’ve been helping to sort  through the Archaeology drawers, identifying what objects are in them and then checking them on the Museum catalogue.

Megan - Placement student 1

Megan looking through boxes of archaeological material

The move also means I have also been finding homes for items that were on display (such as boxes in the Museum Store containing objects that are similar in some way), as well as helping find interesting objects for the pop up displays across Craven whilst we are closed; and repacking the archaeology boxes which are full of all different types of treasures! The collection has all sorts of amazing objects from a plethora of Roman coins to human remains to an ancient Megalodon (a giant prehistoric shark) tooth!


Megan - Placement student 2

A juvenile Megalodon tooth 

I constantly feel the need to get up close and personal with the objects and ask lots of questions. Who did this item belong to? Where did it come from? Who made it? What is the story behind this item? I am loving my placement so far and cannot wait to see what other exciting tasks I will be doing over the coming months as well as getting to know the collection better.