Event Factfile -

Northern Archaeology Store, Helmsley

Site Visit

Visit to the English Heritage Archaeology Store

Wednesday 7th July 2010, 2pm

Kevin Booth and Susan Harrison

We were greeted at the Archaeology Store by Kevin Booth the Senior, English Heritage Curator for Northern England and Susan Harrison, the Curator of the Store.

We were then taken into the warehouse which, we were told, was capable of holding more than 43 tonnes of archaeological objects held on moveable racks. Kevin and Susan gave us a guided tour of the building and explained its importance in housing thousands of the North's precious artefacts most of which had previously laid on sites around the region at the mercy of the elements. The largest part of the collection was stone but there were also many pieces of glass, ceramics, woodwork and metal all of which were kept in conditions that were designed to be optimal for the particular material. The age of the objects covered a timescale ranging from pre-history to the 20th century.

Susan showed us an item of particular interest, a metre-high marble bust of the god Jupiter dating back around 1800 years. It had been found at Fountain’s Abbey and after a considerable amount of detective work it was discovered that it had probably been brought to England from Italy in the 17th Century having been first documented in 1616. About 100 years later it found its way into the hands of the wealthy owner of Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal, and it is believed it may then have taken pride of place in the Temple of Jupiter on the Studley Royal estate. When it was found, it seems to have been part of the high altar at the Abbey.

Finally we were able to handle some of the pieces of pottery and ceramics, the most fascinating of which was an ornate medieval wine goblet.

One of the main aisles in the stone store

Susan, telling the story of the bust of Jupiter

Some of the artefacts on display