Through the Mists of Time


project blogWell, it’s freezing out there, but very beautiful. There is something about this sort of weather that is evocative of times gone by, which is handy seeing as that’s our business.

World War 1

Our history centre is currently running an amazing project to update the website, Poole atg9_0006v2 War. Poole At War commemorates Poole’s war dead and so the team in the history centre want to update it to think, not only about the soldiers who gave their lives, but also those who returned and all those who remained here and contributed to the war effort. The team are working with volunteers and different groups to conduct all the research they need for the project and then will produce the new website. It should be a fantastic resource, especially for schools to use.

If you want to find out more about the project you can follow the project blog.


Time almost forgotten

We’re having a super busy term and are hosting a range of school workshops. So far this term we’ve led workshops about the Stone Age, the Iron Age, the Saxons, the Vikings, the Tudors and the Victorians. Scaplen’s Court is authentically cold at this time of year, which adds to the experience. If you would like to find out about any of our workshops take a look at our website or give us a call (01202 262623).

Dance the night away

We’ve just bought a record player for our fun and games workshop. This workshop is all recordabout life in living memory and how things have changed. It’s called fun and games, partly because it’s a lot of fun. Having music playing on an original record player will definitely add to the atmosphere!!!!








Knowledge Exchange at the British Museum

Last week I had the privilege of spending a week at The British Museum as part of a programme called Knowledge Exchange. It was an awe inspiring and wonderful week. As an archaeologist I couldn’t help but be excited to get a behind the scenes glimpse of one of the most famous museums in the world. But as a public archaeologist I was interested to see how they engage the world and reflect on life at my own museum. Here is what I learned. . .

I love my work20161128_190439

I am very lucky. I get to do an interesting job, full of interesting projects and through the course of that work I get share that with other people. Through the work I do with schools, young people and other groups I am able to make a positive difference to how people see themselves and the world around them. But sometimes, work is work: it’s busy and stressful and there are problems to sort out. being at The British Museum helped to remind me that I am very lucky to work in museums and that it is a privilege. At The British Museum they are working really hard to ensure that a diverse population can share in that privilege through programmes like the Learning Museum and Taking Part. And for me, it was a lovely reminder of how much fun I do have amongst it all.

A museum is a museum

The British Museum is a global brand, it’s a leader in the world of museums and heritage and certainly I learned masses last week. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t still challenges and lessons to learn: budgets are tight, resources have to be prioritised, audience needs are broadly similar no matter what the size of the organisation. It was liberating to discuss these challenges and the range of solutions and to brainstorm around the issues. I felt solidarity within my profession.



Learning is a continuous process


Helping other people learn is what I do, but I’ve been doing that for a long time. I’ve done lots of studying, taken lots of exams and I’ve been on lots of courses. Of course I still have lots to learn and sometimes it’s appropriate to go on a course and take an exam, but also  watching others,  shadowing and experiencing something different is a really powerful way to learn. On Friday last week I observed a programme called Taking Part, which is a youth volunteering programme, similar to how we run Takeover Day. During this day I learned from experienced volunteers, curators and from the young people involved.


Jack of all trades

Poole Museum is a successful regional museum, we’re expecting around 200 000 visitors this year, which is pretty significant. However, this is obviously a drop in the ocean compared to the 6 million people who visit The British Museum annually. And so, naturally we operate with a much much much smaller team. That means that we cover lots of different roles and activities within our work. It has made me realise how broad my job is and how much I like doing lots of different things.

Share and share alike

I’ve always been committed to using the power of museums and heritage for good. In my humble opinion it is not just enough safeguard collections for posterity. No, we safeguard collections for people, because in curating collections of objects we are curating and shaping our collective identity; we are writing the book for how we treat each other, what’s important and asking questions about how the powerful treat the powerless. I got an insight into how one of the oldest and most well known institutions are tackling issues around diversity and social justice. In developing the Knowledge Exchange they sought to share some of their power with me, but this was a process of exchange, so I was not just a dutiful beneficiary, but an active participant. I’m not sure I completely felt like an equal, but I am on the journey. Hopefully I can remember this experience to drive me on to keep on sharing our knowledge and collections with our communities.


Are you interested in what I’ve written? Would you like to find out more about how you can learn from what we do here? Would you like to work with us as a volunteer, set up some shadowing or work experience, or just have a chat about how we could work together? If so drop me a line


Takeover Day 16 – reflections

Here are three blog entries from this year’s excellent cohort of young people that took us over.


Poole Museum Takeover Day 2016 has been great fun! Whilst we have enjoyed ourselves, we have learnt lots of new skills. From socialising to practical skills, they will all be helpful for future endeavours. We have met a range of different people and experienced a working place in action. So overall it has been a very enjoyable day!

Charlie, age 12, 18/11/16

Takeover Day


Takeover day has been a thoroughly enjoyable experience for both Tom and I. My favourite parts of the day would have to be the work we did at the front desk mainly because of the work with the Walkie-Talkies and the interesting inquires. Some of the things we had to deal with were, different to say the least. Also I loved working the till because I haven’t done anything like it before. Finally the Poole History Centre was very interesting because we got an insight in what people wanted to know and find out about. All in all takeover day has been quite fantastic.

Thomas Peacock, 12, Poole Grammar.


I found Takeover day a wonderful experience and have come back for my second year running. Most of all I enjoyed front of house and dealing with the public. It was my first experience of using the card machines and using a till. I liked greeting the public and responding to phone calls and public enquirers. Next I enjoyed doing the tours and telling people about what I knew. Lastly we worked in Poole History Centre, where we answered enquiries and in our spare time researched our family history. Overall I found Takeover day to be a thoroughly enjoyable experience.


Thomas Clayton, 12, Poole Grammar.


Lines of thought

As our blockbuster exhibition, Lines of thought, comes to a close I thought it would be lovely to share this poem written by one of the volunteer stewards.


People pouring in from I don’t know where,

To peer at drawings and compare.

Rembrandt, Michelangelo, Picasso and so many more,

 Thronging masses pass through the door.

Enthusiasm unsurpassed,

We should hoist a ‘comments’ mast!


What lies beneath each sketch; what was in the artist’s mind

With pencils that cannot be confined?

Yes, this one has hit the spot!

It’s been registered as something hot.

The lines, the dots and daubs of earnest hand,

Of artists who have made their brand.


From eager students and children, to retired folk,

Who come, their senses to invoke.

Inspired, heads full of art and all its intent,

Sketches interpreted on individual bent.

Posthumously, we should make these Masters smile,

 Their protégés aspire to reach the extra mile.


By Karen E Lawman

Did you visit? Did you draw, were you, like Karen, moved in other creative ways? Do let us know.


Digital Eagles



On Monday 4th July a bunch of young people from Upton Junior School visited the museum and helped us think about how we present the museum digitally. In the spirit of the morning, three students have written a guest blog. Read and enjoy! And thank you for doing this 🙂

Internet safety winners at Poole museum

On Monday 4th July some children, who won the e-safety competition, were fortunate to go to Poole museum.

DSCN4671Firstly we went and met Trudie who was going to be taking us around the museum and be working with us. Soon after, she showed us the log boat and explained about how old it was and where they found it. We then had a quick tour of the museum floors (there are 3 floors packed with historic things about Poole).

After all this excitement, there was more in store; we went up to the top of the building and the business marketing manager called Penelope spoke to us about how she thought she could change the website.


Next we wrote a tweet on paper about what we were doing.  Then Trudie took them in and decided which one to put on as a tweet; she couldn’t choose between Isabelle’s or Ellis’ so she put them both together to make one. This was the tweet: ‘Upton Junior School students have come to Poole Museum to experience an exciting learning adventure. Yay!’

Then we looked at different museum websites in pairs, thinking what we liked and didn’t like about them. We used this to think about what Poole Museum could use on the kids section of their website that would improve it and we contributed some ideas.

Lastly we had a go at the Poole trail, which is a series of posters hidden around the museum. You had to type in a code on the netbooks to find out interesting facts about the different artefacts there were in the museum.DSCN4695

Sadly we had to leave to get to school in time for lunch.

We really enjoyed the educational trip but we wouldn’t have been able to do it if Miss Havicon hadn’t have organised it and Mr Williams hadn’t been an amazing bus driver and helper.

Keira, Tia & Zoe


The young people gave us so many fantastic ideas. Some will be more work than others, but we hope to get some of the ideas off the ground pretty soon. Watch this space for more information.

Building a Roundhouse

We started the Bearwood Roundhouse last week! It was amazing fun and we were all really surprised how quickly we were able to out the skeleton together.

It was great fun taking part in practical activities and problem solving as we went along. The children had devised plans before we started and we also had the excavation plan from nearby, but when it came down to it, it was about making it work. 20160602_140043


How Big? Where’s the Door?

Crucially, this Roundhouse was smaller than its Iron Age inspiration. That house was c. 5m in diameter and our was under 4m to keep it within the scope of permitted development. Also Roundhouse’s nearly always have their doorway facing south west -interestingly not so in the Iron Age Bearwood roundhouse and not so in ours. Positioning the door to the south west would have made the doorway hidden from staff on playground duty – not a good idea we felt.


Post-holes and Walls

The first thing to do was to mark out a circle. This was a very technical process involving a20160530_123427
small stick in the centre of the ‘would-be’ house, a piece of string and a pot of paint. Having marked the circle we worked out the circumference of the circle and divided that by 11 (roundhouses often have unevan numbers of posts). We placed our posts 1.1m apart around the circle, with the doorway being a little larger.

Digging the post-holes took some wellie, so we had a couple of people working on this, whilst others sawed up posts and others still made a daub pit and mixed clay. The children present were helped to saw, mix and collect stones for post packing. Our posts were 1.25m, sunk into 0.25 metre holes.

Putting the posts in was great fun; messy clay mixed with mud and stones. We decided we wanted some extra stakes between our posts. Some that meant whittling stakes with axes. This involves some knack. Then we whacked the stakes in.

At this stage we started the wattling – lots of people and brute strength was required. As we wattled the structure grew in strength. During this time the Head Teacher was sent on various forays for nails (I know I know, a little cheat), more saws (another cheat) and crucially cake! Our wall was tall enough by around 2pm! Then we ummed and arred about levelling the posts (the house is on a slight slope), there were measurements by spirit level, but in the end we used our eyes.

We had been advised to finish the wattle off using the midland hedge laying style to give the wattle strength, but we couldn’t make it work and the wall seemed pretty solid.


The Roof Goes Up


Thanks to a very helpful video by David Freeman from Butser, we decided to use the tripod method for erecting the rafters. Having already cut down the ‘sticky-up’ ends of the posts and stakes we put a wall plate on to attach the rafters to. This meant more sawing, and 20160602_105047banging. Meanwhile everyone else practised their knots. We needed square lashings and shear lashings and fortunately an ex-Girl Guide helped us learn these.

Just as we were erecting the rafters, Anthony Brown, who will be thatching the building arrived and gave us some handy pointers. He helped us lean the other rafters onto the main three and turn them to achieve a 45 degree pitch (important to20160602_135803 help the rain run off). he also made the top circle of perlins and chucked it on like a hoopla so that additional rafters could be leant against it to stop the apex of the roof being too crowded. Anthony also selected a nice rafter with a bend to make a porch for the door.

Then we began to tie on the perlins. Many knots, miles of hempex and a few blisters later we had a roof. It was amazing how this came together and made the roof incredibly strong.


And Next

Anthony starts thatching with the children today and in the next couple of weeks the kids will also daub the walls. There is a memories open day coming up to find out what local people know about Bearwood’s history and finds handling sessions at school. And amongst all this, lots and lots of project work with a heavy emphasis on mathematical skills.

And most importantly is the Summer Fayre 11am-3pm on 16th July. This will incorporate the festival of British Archaeology and allow Bearwood to show off their fantastic hard work.


Thank You

A massive thanks to HLF South West for funding the project, Anthony Brown for his advice and guidance, all the volunteers who’ve helped, the RSPB who allowed us to coppice their wood, Imerys for the clay,  the Bearwood Parents and Friends group and most of all to all the school staff and children who have really run with the project.

If you would like take part in a similar project please do get in touch. 








History Pin

Do you use Historypin? You don’t?! Well you must take a look (Historypin)

It’s such a cool resource: you can search by place or keyword. Seriously I could get lost for hours here browsing photos of the past.F9a_0031

Our very own Poole History Online runs using a similar idea, only here you can also find maps, documents and oral history snippets too.

Both these resources could be really effectively combined to create some amazing digital based lessons. Have you used either to do this? Would you like to work with us to explore these ideas further. Do get in touch if you would like to have a bit more of a chat about the possibilities.


And now for something completely different. . . 

crested black macaque

Have you visited our new Wallace exhibition? It’s fantastic – well worth a visit, especially if you’re studying biology this term. Wallace was a contemporary of Darwin’s and joint authored papers together about natural selection.

We’ve created a trail pack to accompany the exhibition, including a trail activity booklet, magnifying glass, ruler, crayons and pencil. The trail pack is on sale in our shop and is fantastic value at only £2.50. But even better it is free for Gold Subscriber schools. For more information, give our Learning Assistant, Louise a call on 01202 262628 or email her at



Dark Age Dwelling

If you go down to the woods today you’re sure of a big surprise. . .

We’re about to embark on a new project to bring light to Dark Age Dorset.

The term Dark Age is pretty much frowned on today – the time after the Roman period wasn’t dark, it was full of colour. So most people now refer to that time at the Saxon period, but that term doesn’t quite work for us.

Dorset was a bit different – the Romans had left, but we were just West enough not to be totally under the Saxon yoke. Instead something else happened here. Roman buildings were dismantled and aisled halls and sunken featured buildings constructed.

So that’s what we’re doing, making a post-Roman sunken featured building. But Dark Age Dwelling sounds a bit snappier!

The new building will be in Grove Wood at Upton Country Park and will give lots of opportunities for people of Poole to learn skills that died out here centuries ago, including making wooden shingles. The building will be an experiment: how does what we build compare with the archaeological evidence? We would like local people to help us gather this information and analyse it. It’s nothing complicated, it’s just about careful and regular observation.

Of course, there are lots of opportunities for schools to get involved, learning traditional skills, bringing new skills (such as photography and IT skills) to the study of the building and finding out what life was like in Poole 1500 years ago.

Drop me a line to get involved or for more information. Pictures to follow. . .




Step back in time

A Taster of what we do

What do you think of when you hear the word museum? It’s a word that has strong connotations, such positive and others less so, but do you really know what it means in Poole?

We were very lucky to work with a very talented work experience placement student recently, who made a fab video to give visitors a sense of the Poole Museum experience.

It’s nice and short, so why not take a look and let us know what you think.



It’s not too late

We’ve got a busy schools programme over the next couple weeks, but still have a few slots for later in the term, so please let us know if you’re planning a visit. And don’t forget, we don’t just offer history trips, we also do science and natural history workshops at Upton Country Park.






Year 5 at Bearwood Primary have been using some of our artefacts to write. He’s a sample.

The description in the last sentence here is amazing!


‘Dust coated desert’ – what a fantastic piece of imagery. . .


Check out the vocabulary: ‘an array of ancient sparkling crystals’. What fab imagination too – I can picture an explorer with a stash of crystals and special stones.

BW 3

The thing that strikes me here is the suggestion of colour. Check out the words, ‘patterned’, ‘beautiful’ and ‘multi-coloured’.


The description here is so clear I can easily visualise the artefacts. I love the contrasting similes – ‘sharp as a dagger’ ‘smooth as a sheet of delicate glass’.

BW writing 1

Well done Year 5.

On another note, you may have noticed how often we feature work and projects from Bearwood Primary. They are not the only school we work with, we work with over 40 different schools each year. If you would like to see work from your school on the blog, please send us some samples, we would love to see it and publish it :-).