Monday, 21 February 2011

News - Museum offers public chance to handle prehistoric axes (Nottingham)

The Nottinghamshire public are being offered a rare opportunity to handle a 50,000-year-old axe and other ancient artefacts at a local museum.

The University of Nottingham Museum of Archaeology is putting on a 'Prehistory Day'on 23 February 2011, in conjunction with the BBC's Hands On History . 

Curator Clare Pickersgill said: "It's so important. When you hold an object you begin to ask different questions." 

The attraction is the only specialised archaeological museum in the region. 

"What I love about this museum are the everyday objects," said Ms Pickersgill. "These tell us so much about the everyday people like you and I. 

"Somebody said to me that this collection is a snapshot of Nottinghamshire over time. You can see how people lived over 250,000 years." 

The museum opened in 1933 with artefacts donated by Felix Oswald, including his collection from excavations at Margidunum, a Roman site found under a roundabout at Bingham in the early 1930s.

Its collection has swelled through donations from individuals, as well as finds by the Department of Archaeology at the university. 

"We have a medieval site on campus. It's the medieval village of Keighton, first found in the Second World War during the 'digging for victory'," said Ms Pickersgill. 

"It produced cooking pots and tiles for Lenton Priory in the 14th and 15th century." 

In 2010 the museum won the Nottinghamshire Heritage Museum of the Year award. 

Ms Pickersgill said the award was in recognition for their outreach work and their progress on making the collections more accessible. 

"A lot of people might think that we're just here for the students but we're here for everyone. 

"Previously there were objects in cases but no labels and the museum was not always open. Now we're open Monday to Friday, 10.00am until 4.00pm, we're free and anyone can come and look." 

The Hands on Prehistory day at The University of Nottingham Museum of Archaeology, will take place on 23 February, 11.00am to 4.00pm. This event is part of the BBC's Hands On History.

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