Posts Tagged ‘archaeology’

Object of the week: Saxon Disc Brooch (Watton at Stone)

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

Although our Watton at Stone exhibition closes this weekend this beautiful 7th century Saxon disc brooch is on permanent display in our Timeline case (upstairs and turn left!).

Watton brooch

It was found by a metal detectorist prior to the construction of the Watton bypass, as Tony Rook remembers:

I said to him, where was it he found it and he said “Oh it was over there somewhere”, waving in the direction of the farm, so we’ve no idea where he actually found it and I said, “Well why didn’t you mark it?” And he said, “Well I didn’t think you were interested, I thought you were only interested in coins!” So that’s a bit frustrating there.

This week’s events

High Streets & Hedgerows: Watton at Stone his weekend so if you haven’t visited it yet (or want to come again!) make sure you drop in by the 27th June. Thank you to all the residents of Watton at Stone who helped us pull the exhibition together and all those who have come in to see it already!

Check out our What’s On page or our updated newsletter for details of LOTS of special events coming up in the next few months from evening talks to family activities and including LOTS of music! There are still more details to come too so keep following us on social media and sign up to our mailing list for latest infomation!

Do you know any musicians, bands or other small music groups who might like a chance to perform at the museum? This summer we’re running a programme of short 30 minutes Gallery Sounds on Saturday afternoons and we’re looking for some more musicians to take part. Drop us an email at for more details (all musical styles are welcome but we’re looking for small, acoustic groups to fit in our gallery!)

Object of the Week: Green Glaze Flask (140AD)

Thursday, June 4th, 2015

This week’s Object of the Week comes to you a day late because we’ve been looking forward to the arrival of this beautiful, and incredibly rare, flask which was found in Puckeridge.


This green glazed flask with barbotine ring decoration dates from around AD 140 and was part of a casket burial group from Skeleton Green, Puckeridge. Casket burials, where the cremated remains are buried in a wooden casket, often with elaborate bronze fittings rather than a simple pottery urn, were usually reserved for higher status individuals. The quality of the grave goods buried with the casket which also included glassware, ceramic dishes and a terracotta oil lamp back up this theory.


Materials behave differently in the ground, with most organic materials rotting away unless extreme environmental conditions preserve them. None of the wood from the casket remains, however, archaeologists can gauge the size and shape by noticeable changes to the soil in which it was buried and from the metal fittings used. Ceramic objects like this beautiful flask survive well unless they come into contact with destructive forces such as animals, tree roots and ploughs. This burial was one of six casket burials from the site and it is likely that all six were members of the same high status family group living in Roman Braughing.

This week’s events

As this is the first week in June that means this Saturday is a Stay and Play Saturday! Come along and play with traditional wooden toys, make something crafty and read a book. Whilst you are here why not use the discovery station toys to explore the galleries too?

Come and Discover Hertford Museum at an illustrated talk from our Assistant Curator Sarah next Wednesday 10th June at 7.30pm (talk at 8pm). You will discover the amazing diversity of our collections, our fascinating history and how we care for and share your local heritage. Your ticket includes a glass a wine or soft drink and the opportunity to look around the museum after hours. £7.50 per person BOOKING ESSENTIAL

You can also now book a place on our next Arts & Crafts for Adults workshops- on Wednesday 17th June we’re holding Collage workshops No experience is necessary- full instruction from experienced artists, all materials provided and tea & coffee are all included in the price of £15 per person. Check our our website or newsletter for full details.

An Archaeology Extravaganza- travel into prehistory with us!

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

This Saturday, 27th July from 10.30am- 3.30pm we’re launching our Summer Holiday activities with a special day of prehistoric fun!

There are lots of activities to take part in, something to keep everyone interested, and it’s all FREE.


Mr History is bringing some amazing prehistoric activities to the museum- you can have a go at painting on a cave wall, see what prehistoric people would have worn and even try hunting some prehistoric wild beasts on an indoor archery range!

Mr History (David Cadle) ready for some prehistoric fun!

Mr History (David Cadle) ready for some prehistoric fun!

If you’ve ever wondered how prehistoric people made their amazing stone weapons and tools, flintknapper James Dilley will be in the garden showing you how its done!

James Dilley in a flint quarry.

James Dilley in a flint quarry.

And if all of that isn’t enough for you we’ll have a craft activity upstairs in our galleries for you to make and take home.


Plus if you find all of that makes you thirsty and hot there will be teas & ice lollies in the garden!

And make sure you pick up a leaflet with our summer activities on it- if you come to 4 of the 5 weeks and get your leaflet stamped you’ll be entered to win a prize at the end of the summer!

Stores Open Day- a chance to see our Roman Corndryer!

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

This Saturday, 8th September, from 11am- 3pm we will be opening up our Stores to the public again as part of the Heritage Open Days scheme. You will be able to visit the Seed Warehouse (just off the Wash, maps available from the Museum) and see all of the work that goes on behind the scenes including conservation cleaning, our new library space and some of the collections we can’t fit in the museum!

Saturday will also be another chance to come and visit our Roman Corndryer. This structure was excavated from Foxholes Farm in 1974 and to protect it was lifted in two huge pieces and brought to the Seed Warehouse site. It is the only intact Roman Corndryer that you can visit in this country and possibly in the world so make sure you take this opportunity to see it!

One of our volunteers, Heather Hodgson, was present when the Corndryer was excavated and lifted and she has shared her memories below. If you visit on Saturday you can also see some of her cinefilm of the occasion.

In 1974 I had the good fortune to be on the Foxholes Farm excavation. After a field walking session over the field, Roman and Iron Age pottery were found. Redlands had the rights to extract gravel so there was a need to excavate. The report explains all the relevant details. The excavation was conducted by the Hertfordshire Archaeological Trust and the work was done in front of the of the gravel extraction. Towards the end of main excavation the last section of land was stripped on the edge of the valley and a chalky smear appeared in the soil. On investigation it revealed the outline of the corndryer as it was gradually revealed it became evident that we had something special. So careful excavation revealed an impressive unique structure and plans were made for the possible lifting and preservation.

Robert Kiln, chairman of HAT contacted Pynfords for their expertise in this kind of work. A mould of the corndryer stokehole was made with expended polystyrene, this was then used to make a new stokehole. Pains taking effort was taken to underpin the base of the corndryer with re-enforced concrete which was then had to be cut in two for transportation. Each section of the corndryer was then protected by timber ply shuttering and sand between the board and the walls. The sections were carefully loaded on lorry trailers. It was quite scary to see the lift, would it be alright or was it too heavy? Fortunately every thing went well and I did happen to have my camera with me to cover the event.

Arriving at the Seed Warehouse more fun and games getting the sections into the space where it now resides. The main square section was very gently lower on to industrial skates making sure it was carefully balanced. Then chains were attached to the section base and also to ratchet on the supporting pillar of the room where it now resides. Gradually is was moved inch by inch in through the doors and manoeuvred around the pillar. I am still amazed how they managed to with hardly any room, it did take a very long time. The same procedure for the stokehole section, being slimmer was a little easier, then carefully placed together.

Over the following months we (Heather Hodgson and Esme Freeman) reconstructed the stokehole and rejoined the sections, can you see the join?

Archaeology at Hertford Museum

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

One of the largest collections we have at Hertford Museum is our archaeology. We have over 2370 boxes of archaeology and 285 archaeological archives stored on nearly a kilometre of shelving!

Our archaeology is kept in our off-site store so we in this blog we’re giving you a little over-view of what we have and how we take care of it! We’re also working to put together a new Museum Talk on the highlights of our archaeology collection which will be bookable by groups (keep an eye on our website for more news!)

Archaeology Stores

We have 2 large store rooms to accommodate our ever growing archaeology collections.

The archaeology is stored by material type as different materials such as metals require specific temperature and humidity levels to help prevent deterioration. We regularly monitor the environment in all our store rooms.

Archaeological Archives

Excavations produce large amounts of paperwork as well as objects. We catalogue and care for paper records, plans and drawings and photographs and make them available to researchers.

Documenting Archaeology

We are individually numbering and recording our archaeology collections with help from our volunteers. Every object has to be catalogued and photographed and packed and stored appropriately.

Metals such as iron are stored in airtight boxes with silica gel. This draws out any excess moisture in the box which would cause the finds inside to deteriorate.

Other finds such as ceramics and glass are well packed with acid free tissue.

SHARE- training for museum staff

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

Today our assistant curator, Sarah Keeling, is away on a training day to help brush up her skills working with archaeology collections.

Learning is central to what museums do and that means schools, families, adult learning, volunteer training AND staff training.

In the East of England museums are very lucky to have the SHARE scheme (Support, Help and Advice in Renaissance East) which allows museum to share knowledge and skills in various ways including funding, networking opportunities, specialist consultants as well as a regular training programme. Because all the museums within SHARE work together to provide the training (speakers, places to meet, materials to use etc.) the sessions are free for other SHARE members so we can afford to send staff and volunteers on important courses they wouldn’t otherwise be able to do.

Staff (and volunteers) at Hertford Museum use SHARE a lot and in the last year various people have been on courses about.

  • Storage and display of hats

  • Pest Management
  • Environmental Monitorig
  • Object Handling
  • Conservation Housekeeping

and now Archaeology!