We had our first visit to Corinium museum’s storehouse, Northleach, yesterday. I’m not sure what everyone else pictures when they think of a museum storehouse, but I had envisioned a grey metal warehouse set in an industrial complex, poorly lit, cold and filled with dusty boxes of artifacts set on old wooden shelves. That is certainly not Northleach. The storehouse is in fact a modern building in the shape of an old barn (metal but brightly coloured instead of grey) set in the lovely Cotswold countryside. It’s clean, bright and spacious and the Corinium team has meticulously catalogued and organized all the artifacts. In addition to the Roman material there’s a large room filled with old farm equipment and upstairs everyday objects from the 18th and 19th centuries. All in all, a great place to spend the day searching amongst the shelves and boxes for the perfect objects to put on display!
The morning was spent looking at animal bones, human skeletons, samian ware pottery, archaeobotanical remains and oyster shells. After lunch we realized that we had gotten a little too excited (as archaeologists do when left in a storehouse full of nice, clean objects) and the workroom was now filled with dozens of boxes. Zena and Alison managed to get us all organized and the hunt continued.
The afternoon produced the best and most unexpected finds. In a box full of animal bones from Cirencester Zena came across the scapula (shoulder blade) of an animal that had been pierced so that the meat could hang and dry. I (Erica) was given the task of finding display objects from the Roman fort of Leaholme and let me tell you, this was no out of the way, forgotten about part of the Roman Empire. There were numerous boxes of beautiful samian ware vessels to sort through, all of which would have been imported from Roman Gaul. One particularly nice fragment had a relief of a cupid holding a bunch of grapes. There were also several locally made ceramic cups and jars, and colourful fragments of wall plaster to examine. Although Dan soon decided that we had enough material from Leaholme, I couldn’t resist looking in the box labelled fine wares. Luckily my curiosity paid off and inside was a complete drinking cup! Around 3:30 we decided that we definitely had enough material (since we haven’t even started looking at the material housed at Corinium museum yet), had some tea and called it a day.
On November 19th we’re going to be heading to the museum to look at the material housed there, so watch out for that blog!