Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Festival of British archaeology - Open days flag up Nottingham's archeaology

Nottingham's historic caves network are once again under the spotlight as part of the countdown to the Cultural Olympiad 2012.

Nottingham City CollectionsThe work carried out by amateur archaeologists and antiquarians in Nottingham in the caves and in other areas of the city is opened up at the Museum of Nottingham Life at Brewhouse Yard.

Behind the scenes tours, coin identification and a drop-in session to see the current 3D scanning work in Nottingham's caves take place this Friday (22nd July) with additional tours next Friday, July 29.

The events, part of the Open Weekend countdown to the 2012 Olympics, also mark the national Festival of British Archaeology this weekend.

On show are the early explorations of Nottingham's underground cave network by antiquarian George Campion, whose efforts have done much to help modern day archaeologists understand medieval Nottingham, and the work of 18th century builder, surveyor and architect William Stretton. Stretton was the first local collector of numismatic items such as coins and medals and many of his collection of 17th century Nottinghamshire tokens are now with Nottingham City Council's Museums and Galleries.

The behind the scenes tours of Brewhouse Yard's Archaeology Section, housed in the Waterworks Building, will start from the museum shop at 10.30am and 2pm. The tours include the Nottingham Urban Archaeological Database, to see the modern recording of Nottingham cave sites, and the museum's stores to see objects from Campion, Stretton, Thoroton and other antiquarians.

This Friday Dr David Walker of Trent and Peak Archaeology, based at the University of Nottingham, will show visitors some of the 3D scans produced as part of a current recording of the network of caves. Nottingham has in excess of 500 caves but the main focus of this project will be those which are protected under English Heritage and are currently accessible.

Members of the Numismatic Society of Nottinghamshire will be at the museum from 2pm to show visitors some of the museum's handling collection and to identify any coins, medals or tokens the public bring along. A talk on the Iron Age Log Boats in the collection, including those saved by Campion, will be given on 4th August at 1pm at Nottingham Castle, as part of the current 'Along the River Trent' exhibition.

Tours will last just over an hour and will cost £2.50 per visitor. Advanced booking is advised and the tour will involve stairs. Young Archaeologist Club members and those with objects for identification will be granted free access, for all other visitors normal charges apply.

Councillor Dave Trimble, Nottingham City Council's Portfolio holder for Leisure, Culture and Tourism, said: "The UK Cultural Olympiad runs alongside the 2012 London Olympics, extending the Olympic involvement to many more people and communities and giving us opportunities to highlight our heritage, arts and culture to the rest of the world."

"As the Open Weekend coincides with the Festival of Archaeology it is a chance to pay tribute to many of these Nottinghamshire antiquarians and the modern day archaeology societies whose efforts have contributed and continue to contribute so much to our understanding of the local archaeological record. It is a great opportunity to get up close to real objects, to talk to specialists, get your numismatic items identified and find out what's going on in archaeology in the city right now. Nottingham's caves have been the subject of two recent television features and the open days also give us another chance to discover more about their fascinating history."

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