Department of Archaeology Uncovers Barnsley’s Past

Archaeology. Article 4. Image 1Staff and students from the Department of Archaeology are collaborating with the Barnsley Museum Service to research and interpret archaeological finds in preparation for the opening of a new museum in the town.

In a time of great uncertainty for many museums across the country, Barnsley is bucking the trend by opening Experience Barnsley, a new museum which aims to tell the story of the region from prehistory to the present day. As part of a collaborative project funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund, the Department of Archaeology is working closely with the town’s Museum Service to catalogue and examine archaeological collections from the area.

For many years archaeological discoveries from the Barnsley region have had to be stored in museums in Sheffield and Doncaster, but in 2012 nearly 150 boxes of objects were returned to Barnsley. These are now being studied by staff and students from the Department of Archaeology, ready for storage and display in the new museum.

During a series of placements, undergraduate and postgraduate students have catalogued and researched over 3000 finds, including hoards of Roman coins, pottery and glass from the medieval priory of Monk Bretton, and archaeological discoveries from the nationally important 18th-Century glassworking sites at Gawber and Silkstone.  Staff from the Department of Archaeology have used their expertise and specialist knowledge to enhance the collections research as well as providing archaeological training to museum staff.  Additional funding from the Arts Enterprise scheme has enabled the production of a ‘schools pack’ focussing on Roman Barnsley, and a booklet on 19th-Century Silkstone and its industrial heritage.

Archaeology. Article 4. Image 2.The research conducted by staff and students from the Department of Archaeology will enhance the interpretation of the archaeology on display within the new museum and contribute to future outreach resources including schools packs, community projects and handling collections. Barnsley’s rich heritage will therefore remain accessible to residents and visitors alike.

The Barnsley Esmée Fairbairn Project was launched in April 2012 and runs until March 2014. For more information contact Project Co-Ordinator, Dr Vicky Crewe v.crewe@sheffield.ac.uk

Experience Barnsley is scheduled to open in early summer 2013. More information about the new museum.