From Iceni gold to a Norfolk pub pint glass: The top 10 acquisitions in the county’s museums
Norfolk Museums Service
An Anglo-Saxon pendant and a hoard of Iceni gold might seem to have little in common with a pint glass from a community-run pub.
But they are among items named by Norfolk Museums Service as among the top 10 acquisitions in 2017/18.
The museums service has about three million items. But bosses are always keen, when the right opportunities arise, to add to the collection to help interpret the county’s history.
Robin Hanley, assistant head of the museums service, said: “We are constantly reviewing and rationalising our collections. Our collections are the starting point for what we offer in interpreting our past.
“We have a very clear acquisition policy to ensure what we acquire supports the work we do.”
Mr Hanley said the majority of acquisitions did not involve money, but thanked groups and organisations, such as museum friends groups, which helped make paid for acquisitions possible.
1. The Sculthorpe Hoard
The Sculthorpe Hoard of 24 Iron Age coins was found by metal detectorists in 2015 and was declared treasure.
Twenty-one gold staters and four silver units were minted by the Iceni tribe of Ancient Britain.
Among the coins are the earliest type of Iceni gold ‘Norfolk wolf’ state coins.
The reverse of those coins depict a wolf-like creature with bristles running down its back.
The hoard also features coins from a continental Gallo-Belgic style.
And the silver units are important because they demonstrate that, from the very beginning of the Iceni producing their own coins, it was multi-denominational, with gold and silver circulating side-by-side.
The purchase of the hoard for Norwich Castle was funded by a private donor, the Victoria and Albert Purchase Grant Fund, the Headley Trust and The Art Fund.
2. The Binham Bracteates
Norwich Castle Museum has obtained the final known pieces from a unique hoard discovered buried in Binham.
The gold bracteates - a type of pendant - were among jewellery which was buried there in the 6th century.
Bracteates are an extremely rare and early form of Scandinavian jewellery and were used by Germanic people who migrated to England.
It is the largest gold hoard known from 6th century Britain and points to Binham’s importance as a centre in the early Anglo-Saxon period.
They imply that the site was an unusually early Anglo-Saxon ‘gateway community’.
The bracteates, which were found by metal detectorists, were declared as treasure. They were purchased for the castle museum by the Friends of Norwich Museum, the Arts Council England/Victoria and Albert Museum Purchase Grant Fund and the Art Fund.
3. The Winfarthing Pendant
Probably the most important Anglo-Saxon grave to be excavated in Norfolk in the past 30 years, the 7th century interment was found by metal detecting UEA student Tom Lucking.
He informed archaeologists who were able to excavate the grave properly.
Among items buried, alongside a woman, was the Winfarthing Pendant, a large, opulent, gold and garnet pendant.
The pendant was recently voted as the winner of Britain’s favourite work of art acquired for a museum with Art Fund support in 2018.
The grave is helping to rewrite understanding of Conversion-period East Anglia and the pendant was recently loaned to the British Library for its Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms exhibition.
It was declared treasure and bought for Norwich Castle with financial help by the Friends of Norwich Museums, the Art Fund and the National Heritage Memorial Fund.
4. Susan, Aarti, Keerthana and Princess, Sunday in Brooklyn
This painting by Mexican artist Aliza Nisenbaum was commissioned especially for Norwich Castle’s Equality: Visible Women exhibition.
Susan, Aarti, Keerthana and Princess, Sunday in Brooklyn, depicts a two-mother mixed race family with a collective heritage that is Indian and African-American.
It was a landmark acquisition for Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery and addresses the under-representation of art made by women in the collection.
Research in 2017 showed just seven per cent of the works in the castle’s collection were by women.
It was also the first work to enter the collection representing women of colour.
It was commissioned by the Contemporary Art Society for Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery through the Valeria Napoleone XX Contemporary Art Society (VNXXCAS) initiative.
5. Fabric samples from the Dove Clothing company
The Dove Clothing company was an independent Norwich business selling imported Indian fabrics and, later, a range of women’s clothing designed and made in-house.
It was based in the city from 1969 until 1976 and was a well-loved Norwich brand.
An ex-employee of Dove donated 41 samples of the company’s work to Norwich Castle Museum.
The samples come from the silk-screen print workshop which the company established in 1972 and forms a unique record of a long-gone city company.
6. Freemen of Norwich collection
The Freemen of Norwich donated a collection of items commemorating their 700th anniversary to the Museum of Norwich.
The Norwich Freemen number more than a thousand. Since 2010, women have been admitted and make up more than a third of the membership.
As part of their 700th anniversary celebration in 2017, the Freemen of Norwich supported two weeks of free admission to the museum, which is in Bridewell Alley.
A set of commemorative items was produced to mark the importance of the organisation in the city’s history.
Many of the trades associated with the Freemen, such as weaving, are represented at the Museum of Norwich.
Every year the freemen’s charity, the Norwich Town Close Estate Charity, makes a large number of educational grants to projects in Norwich and within a 20-mile radius of the Guildhall.
7. Pictures of Cromer
Cromer Museum has acquired two images of Cromer, which show the town’s beach before the completion of the first sea wall in 1838.
One, by Thomas Preston, who was active from 1826 to 1850, is titled View of the East Beach, looking towards Overstrand and dates back to 1833.
The other is a watercolour by an unknown artist.
The images include features long since gone, including Randall’s Warm Sea Baths and the house of Alexander Webb, which was reputedly built of savaged ships timbers which stood on the cliff to the left of the church.
The pictures date from a time when a relatively small number of images exist and capture, possibly, things that are not recorded anywhere else.
The purchase of the pictures was funded by the Friends of Cromer Museum.
8. JA Motrum Photographs
Jim Motram, who lives near Dereham, has been taking photographs of people in and around Dereham for more than seven years.
He donated a collection of documentary photographs of people in receipt of welfare support and within social housing to Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse.
His work covers difficult subjects such as disability, addiction and self-harm, but is always with hope and dignity, focussing upon the strength and resilience of the people he photographs.
9. Items from the King’s Arm pub in Shouldham
In 2014, villagers celebrated a “fantastic day in the history of Shouldham” after the community joined forces to re-open their last remaining pub.
The Kings Arms shut suddenly and unexpectedly in 2012, but the community raised £300,000 to buy it and re-open it.
It became the first community-run pub in west Norfolk and Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse has collected items from it to reflect the current changing nature of rural pubs.
Items collected include an engraved pint glass, gin tasting board and barrel ends.
10. The Cemetery Chapels, King’s Lynn
A rare painting of Victorian King’s Lynn has returned to the town after spending decades in the United States of America.
The Cemetery Chapels, King’s Lynn, was painted by Henry Baines in about 1856.
The artist, who was active from 1823 to 1894, documented buildings which have long since disappeared from the town.
The oil painting depicts the two chapels, with connecting turret, which once stood at King’s Lynn’s Hardwick Road Cemetery before demolition in 1972.
There are plans to include the painting in an exhibition to mark the bicentenary of the Baines artist brothers next year.
The painting’s purchase for Lynn Museum was funded by a private American vendor, with support from the Art Fund, the Friends of King’s Lynn Museum, the Art Council England/Victoria and Albert Purchase Grant Fund and the Friends of Hardwick Road Cemetery.
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