Ancient relics to go on display at Beccles Museum

Beccles Museum is getting ready to open for the Easter weekend with a new exhibition of artefacts fo

Beccles Museum is getting ready to open for the Easter weekend with a new exhibition of artefacts found in the local area. Museum curator Robert Bacon with an ancient spoon. PHOTO: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

Ancient relics and artefacts unearthed by people gardening, clearing ditches or renovating houses are to be the focus of Beccles Museum's first temporary exhibition of the year.

Beccles Museum is getting ready to open for the Easter weekend with a new exhibition of artefacts fo

Beccles Museum is getting ready to open for the Easter weekend with a new exhibition of artefacts found in the local area. PHOTO: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

The doors of the Ballygate building open tomorrow ready for the new season alongside the 'Out of the Ground' display portraying around 200 objects entirely found in the town and surrounding area.

The exhibition will give visitors a unique walk through the ages from the Stone Age through to the 20th century and will challenge visitors to decide what some of the pieces actually are, including a bronze frog with a lion's head between its legs and what is thought to be a feeding bottle for infants made from terracotta.

All of the exhibits have been found locally by builders, dog walkers, or people using metal detectors.

Pieces include a plesiosaur vertebra found on a quarry in south Beccles, a Stone Age hand tool, Bronze Age axe heads and various Roman artefacts, including a beautifully preserved commemorative coin of the Emperor Constantine the Great, the first Christian emperor celebrating the city of Rome as the capital of the Roman Empire in 330 AD.

Bottles and vessels, weapons and ammunition and decorative items also feature.

Some objects have been recent finds, while others have been found by parents or grandparents of current owners and handed down.

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Each has been researched and pieced together for the exhibition by curator Robert Bacon, who has been accepting exhibits to be included since Christmas.

He said: 'I'm absolutely delighted with the response from the public. There's a real diverse range of interesting things, mostly every day things that have disappeared or lost, but also some spectacular other findings.

'It also shows much about social history and of how people lived. The objects that I can't identify are certainly intriguing, but there is something very special about handling something ancient that you can identify, such as the Roman coins, that are so clear.

'To hold something that is thousands of years old gives a curious satisfaction.'

Aside from his own knowledge, Mr Bacon has drawn information about some of the exhibits from colleagues at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Cambridge, as well as from local people and published materials.

He said: 'Most of these pieces have come from people who have been digging their gardens.

'Some have obviously come from deliberate people searching with metal detectors, and fossil hunters. Dog walkers find all sorts of things.'

Mr Bacon said he had found a 17th century trade token from Southwold while walking his own dogs as well as a button, which is believed to have been worn by one of Hitler's army during the Second World War. It was found in a field close to where some German prisoners of war worked as farm hands.

There are four special temporary exhibitions taking place at the museum this year including one on the First World War and another on children's clothing through the ages.

The Out of the Ground exhibition starts tomorrow and finishes on June 5. The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 1.45pm to 4.30pm.

Have you unearthed any interesting artefacts? Email the details to louisa.lay@archant.co.uk or call 01502 712060 to speak to a reporter.

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