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Past Exhibition Highlights
Local Treasures: The British Museum Comes to Kettering
September 2018 - January 2019
Our popular exhibition, ‘Local Treasures: The British Museum Comes to Kettering’, featured world-class objects on loan from the British Museum, alongside over 100 local treasures from the Museum’s own permanent collection. Originally found in the Borough of Kettering, the three archaeological objects on loan from the British Museum were:
The Desborough Necklace – a stunning Anglo-Saxon gold necklace that was found in 1876 in a graveyard by workmen who originally broke it into six pieces to share amongst themselves before being persuaded to hand them over in return for a small reward.
The Desborough Mirror – one of the finest examples of Celtic art. The mirror would have been a powerful object in a world where reflections could only be glimpsed in water, and there is conjecture as to who the owner may have been.
The Kettering Hockey Player – a unique Roman pottery mould a unique with the intriguing depiction of a Roman sportsman.
This exhibition brought the opportunity to further research into and share Kettering's interesting archaeological history and marked the first time the British Museum’s objects returned to the Borough of Kettering in nearly 100 years! The loans were supported by the Weston Loan Programme with Art Fund, with additional funding for the exhibition granted by Museum Development East Midlands and Kettering Borough Council.
Explore exhibition highlights from the Museum collection
Jewellery and accessories are by far the most numerous items in our archaeology collection. Most of these items came from the Roman period of occupation between AD43 - AD410, although we also have items from the Iron Age before the Romans, and the Saxons after them.
The brooches in our collection come in many different shapes and sizes, but the most common design is that of the bow brooch, also known as 'fibula brooch'. They are known as bow brooches because they are a similar shape to an archer’s bow.
Above: Bow brooch, 80 - 200 AD, copper alloy
Above: Plate brooch found at Weekley Hall Woods, 50 -150 AD, copper alloy
Above: Penannular brooch, 1st century, Copper alloy
Above: Plate brooch, 250 - 410 AD, copper alloy, glass, gilt
Above: Bow and fan tail brooch, 43 - 150 AD, copper alloy
Above: Plate brooch found at Weekley Hall Woods, 43 - 410 AD, copper alloy, glass
Bottom left above: The Roman copper alloy brooch in the shape of a horse has five holes that are present on the body and a hole representing the eye. These suggest that this brooch once had brightly coloured enamel inlays as decoration.
'Barnicus', the dog
Right: This charming enamelled Roman plate brooch is of a running dog, named ‘Barnicus’ after one of the museum team’s favourite dogs. We like to imagine that the ancient Romans of Kettering were as charmed by their companions as we are today. Originally covered in a bright blue enamel, this little hunting dog was possibly purchased and given as a sacred offering on the same site.
100 - 250 AD, Copper alloy and Enamel
Roman face pots
This group of pottery pieces would have been the decoration on pottery jars and beakers used by the middle-class Roman.
The head-and-shoulders example would have had handles on either side and her body would have formed the body of the container.
The Kettering Anglo-Saxon cemetery
In 1903, during foundation work to construct housing on Stamford Road, an urn was revealed. After confirmation from Northampton Museum that is was indeed the authentic, a dig was organised and an Anglo-Saxon cemetery was discovered. The Local Treasures exhibition displayed a photo album from the museum collection that captures some of the highlights of the dig.
Many items have been recovered from this area including; 80 to 90 urns, 6 skeletons, bronze tweezers, broken combs, molten glass beads, and a small knife. The size of the cemetery suggests that it may have catered for a large area, as settlements were small and widely scattered at the time.
Above: An Anglo-Saxon cinerary urn found on Stamford Road in 1907
Anglo-Saxon cremation urns
Remains were gathered into an urn and buried in the ground. Personal grooming tools such as combs and tweezers are often found in these burials, perhaps symbolising the rebuilding of the body after its cremation.
The famous long-boss potter
Pottery was an essential part of Anglo-Saxon life, used for storage, transporting, cooking and cremation. The Kettering long-boss potter was working in the local area and is significant because his unique pottery has been found in other locations outside Kettering, including Newton, near Geddington, Barton Seagrave and Garton in Cambridgeshire.
The long-boss name came from the potter’s distinctive decorated bosses: a vertically pinched out or pushed in pattern, a design clearly admired in neighbouring regions.
Above: Decorated Anglo-Saxon Cinerary Urn
Above: Decorated Anglo-Saxon Cinerary Urn, complete with bone fragments, slag, earth and glass.
Above: Anglo-Saxon sub-biconical long-bossed Cinerary Urn.
Do you have a favourite object or display from the Museum and Gallery? Perhaps there’s an object you’d like to learn more about? Let us know on our social media channels or by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Behind the Scenes
Local Treasures was an ambitious exhibition and the Museum and Gallery team completed a number of roles for the project, including deeper research and interpretation into our archaeological collection and the planning and installation of the exhibition.
Caring for collections involves a great deal of time and money. Creating the right environment for an object requires the control of a range of factors including light, temperature, humidity, deterring pests and careful handling. Upgrading the museum building to National Collection standards was a priority and has ensured the museum can continue to secure quality loans in the future.
Visitor Comments - What did you enjoy most?
"The brooches. Very pretty. A brilliant experience for all ages to learn and enjoy from. Thank you for bringing the British Museum to Kettering."
"I will recommend this museum to others because it is interesting, very laid out, lovely staff and above all FREE to enter! Loved the mirror and necklace. Great for children to learn."
"A very enjoyable visit. Particularly liked the necklace. It has inspired me to visit local museums more often. Lovely atmosphere. All excellent and nice and bright decor upstairs. Extremely well presented."
"The necklace and personalised items like Barnicus the brooch. So much to choose from as so many interesting items!"
Permanent Collection Displays
Find out what makes Kettering unique!
Covering the history of the borough, the Museum’s permanent displays are packed with fascinating objects and information. Topics include the Boot and Shoe Industry, agriculture, archaeology and prehistoric fossils