Relics of a city's past
A new gallery at Weston Park Museum in Sheffield showcases the city's extraordinary archaeology collection. Grace Hammond reports.
From hidden Roman treasure to fearsome Anglo-Saxon weapons, the stars of Sheffield’s archaeology collection have returned to the spotlight with Museums Sheffield’s unveiling of a brand new archaeology gallery at Weston Park Museum.
The Beneath Your Feet gallery opened earlier this month bringing together over 500 objects in a series of new displays, films and interactives.
The existing archaeology gallery has been redesigned, creating a dazzling new showcase for the treasures in the city’s collection. The new displays will see visitors dig 50,000 years into the city’s past and discover more about Sheffield’s history through the objects which have been discovered in the local area.
The gallery has been completely reconfigured through the introduction of flexible new display cases and lighting, enabling more of the collection to be shared more often. New additions include a replica roundhouse allowing visitors to imagine life in the Iron Age, as well as a detailed map of finds in Sheffield and Derbyshire, documenting significant archaeological sites and encouraging visitors to explore locations where items on display have been found in the area.
Visitors to the new gallery will discover a vast array of objects from Sheffield’s archaeology collection, comprising material excavated from Sheffield, Derbyshire and further afield, ranging from prehistoric finds to 20th century industrial remains.
Amongst the objects on show is the Benty Grange helmet, one of the stars of the collection and one of only four Anglo-Saxon helmets ever found in this country.
Also featured in the displays are glass making crucibles from the 1700s, a Bronze Age shield from around 1000 BC and an Anglo Saxon sword from 900 AD.
On show for the first time is a Bronze Age dugout canoe from around 1900 BC, carved from a single tree trunk, as well as several objects from Sheffield Manor, including a Dutch Oven from 1715, used to reheat food.
Families visiting the new gallery can also enjoy visiting the mini replica roundhouse on display – complete with a thatched roof and a display of domestic objects from the Iron Age, or try dressing up in costumes from across the ages, including medieval monks, Roman soldiers or Anglo-Saxon peasants.
“Sheffield and the surrounding region are rich with significant archaeological finds, from the Benty Grange helmet to the pottery from the Sheffield Manor,” says Martha Lawrence, Curator of Archaeology at Museums Sheffield.
“The Beneath Your Feet gallery provides a wonderful new home for the treasure in the city’s collection and give visitors the chance to really uncover Sheffield’s archaeological past”.
The new Beneath Your Feet gallery is part of a major programme of redevelopment taking place at Weston Park Museum throughout 2016.
The improvements to the museum have been made possible thanks to a major grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, support from a range of trusts and foundations, and the generosity of visitors to the museum.
The Beneath Your Feet gallery at Weston Park Museum is now open. Entrance is free.