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Repairing the Past
The current exhibition at Wiltshire Heritage Museum reviews the progress of the five year project, Repairing the Past, the Wiltshire Bronze Age Pot Project, funded chiefly by the Heritage Lottery Fund, to conserve 105 prehistoric pots from Wiltshire.
The delicate work is being undertaken by the county's unsung heroes and heroines, the staff of Wiltshire County Council's Conservation Laboratory at Salisbury.
For two-and-a-half years now they have been painstakingly removing rock-hard cement and other materials naively applied by pioneer 19th century archaeologists to the pots they had excavated in barrows around Wiltshire, in order, they believed - to preserve them the pots, which are up to 4,500 years old, are often highly decorated and are among the outstanding artistic and archaeological treasures of Wiltshire.
The early methods, used to 'protect' them were in fact only serving to further damage the pots. The project is now half-way through. Nearly 60 of the pots have been painstakingly restored and returned to the museum for display.
This exhibition illustrates the problems which have been suffered by the pots, the methods used by the Conservators to repair them and shows some of the complete pots and the horrendous discoveries made, such as the use of flowerpots, bicycle spokes and metal body filler!
It gives a rare insight into the fascinating world of museum conservators, the challenges they face and the successes they achieve, all for the benefit of the community.
Two ancillary events have been organised to link with the exhibition: On Sunday 2 March the museum is holding a 'family day' featuring Bronze Age re-enactors who will recreate different aspects of life in the Bronze Age, including pottery making.
On 2 April, Lynn Wootton, one of the Wiltshire County Council conservators will give a talk at the museum describing the work of the Conservation Laboratory in rescuing the South Cadbury Shield (a Bronze Age shield found at South Cadbury Hillfort, Somerset) and the Purton Ossuary (a Roman burial found at Purton, nr Swindon), two recent archaeological discoveries.
(Source: Weird Wiltshire)