Conserving the Clifton Mammoth Tusk

You can see this incredible discovery, and a specially commissioned replica, at Worcester City Art Gallery & Museum and the County Museum at Hartlebury.

Research Worcestershire

a large curved tuskThe excavation of a woolly mammoth tusk by Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service at Clifton Quarry, just south of Worcester in March 2016, has led to conservation work to ensure its long-term protection.

Specialist conservation work on the mammoth tusk was very generously funded by Tarmac who own and work Clifton Quarry. The tusk was waterlogged when found so it was dampened and covered in plastic to ensure that it dried out slowly, reducing the chances of splitting and delamination which can occur in waterlogged specimens.

Once it had dried, the surfaces of the tusk were gently cleaned and strengthened. A second phase of conservation work was required a few weeks later as the tusk adapted to the environmental conditions at Worcester Art Gallery and Museum.

Between 2017 and 2018, thanks to a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service (WAAS) in partnership with Museums Worcestershire will…

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Discovering Lost Landscapes – William Smith Geology Map

In 1815 William Smith produced ‘the map that changed the world’ – the first geological map of Great Britain. Years of surveying were behind the incredible detail of this pioneering map, as well as Smith’s theory of stratigraphy that matched areas of non-continuous geology through fossils assemblages. Emma Hancox, Sam Wilson and John France explain more:

This summer, as part of the Lost Landscapes project, we are exhibiting a copy of the first geology map of Great Britain, produced in 1815 by William Smith. A private donor is kindly lending us his copy of this rare map for the Ice Age exhibition in the Art Gallery and Museum. We also have a giant print of the map in The Hive as part of the Origins of Us exhibition.

Known as “the map that changed the world”, the giant print forms the centre-piece of Origins of Us. This exhibition explores how we came to understand our human story.  Set against the back drop of Darwin’s Origin of Species and the emergence of our understanding of the antiquity of the earth, the story of how 19th century scholars and collectors came to revelations about the age of the rocks, fossils and human-made artefacts around us, which spoke of distant aeons, is the story of how we understand what it means to be human. […]

Excerpt of Smith's 1815 geology map
A section of William Smith’s map showing Worcestershire/Warwickshire

Read more at Discovering Lost Landscapes – The William Smith Geology Map

Mammal Bones Conservation

Having been out of the ground for almost 200 years, and suffering from the effects of 19th century conservation work, conservator Nigel Larkin has been restoring some of our Ice Age specimens to their former glory:

Research Worcestershire

Over the next year, Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service and Museums Worcestershire are working on a Heritage Lottery funded project to celebrate Worcestershire’s Ice Age past through exhibitions, events, blogs and workshops.

As part of the project, conservation work is being carried out on some of the earliest items that came into the Worcester City collection.

No.128 Bos / bison skull and horn cores from Bricklehampton.

Ice-age conservation

This specimen was in several pieces (see image below). It had clearly been put together in the past with glue and plaster of paris, with a wooden dowel inserted into the left side of the skull and into the left horn core, held with plaster. The plaster had given way.

The edges of breaks were consolidated with Paraloid B72 consolidant and then pieces were glued back together with Paraloid B72 adhesive. The wooden dowel was re-used as support is required for the large, heavy…

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The Allesborough Handaxe

In 1997-8, a discovery on the surface of a field near Pershore brought an ancient and unusual archaeological find to light.

It is a Palaeolithic (Old Stone Age) handaxe: a stone multi-tool used by early humans for butchery. The once-sharp edges are worn smooth from millennia spent in river gravels. Whilst other materials would have been used by our ancestors, only durable stone tools survive for us to study. It was probably made during one of the warm periods within the Ice Age, between 300,000 and 424,000 years ago, by hunter-gatherer ancestors of both modern humans and Neanderthals named Homo Heidelbergensis.

Most local handaxes are made from flint or quartzite, but this one uses a rare and unusual black volcanic rock. The nearest matching sources are Cornwall or Yorkshire, so the rock was either brought to Worcestershire along seasonal migration routes, or carried here by glacial activity. Either way, our ancestors were drawn to its striking, unusual appearance when they selected it to make this tool. […]

via The Allesborough Handaxe — Research Worcestershire

The rock that rolled

The rolling rocks brought south by the Ice Age – see them on display in Worcester City Art Gallery and Museum.

Research Worcestershire

Erratics are large pebbles or boulders that have been transported and deposited often some considerable distance from their origin, usually by glaciers. By comparing the rocks with those from possible originating areas, it is possible to monitor and plot past ice movements across large areas.

Worcester city collection has three such specimens in its collection, all of which are on display in the Museum and Art Gallery.

Around 40,000 years ago, at the height of the Ice Age, these granite boulders were brought to the area by ice sheets. When the ice finally melted about 13,000 years ago, the boulders were left behind.

The two largest specimens were both found in Claines having travelled down from the Lake District and Criffel in South West Scotland.

The smallest specimen is a little more mysterious. Looking through our historical records, an entry states that in the early years of the 20th century…

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