It’s nearly time again for Derbyshire’s premier art competition. Since 1982, the Derbyshire Open has attracted amateur and professional artists of all ages competing for a range of prizes and a place in the museum collection. Now in its 38th year, the resulting exhibition is the highlight of our summer programme. Entry form and details below:
A heap, a hoard, a treasure, a treat…a glitter of staters across a cave floor, the gleam of a brooch in darkness, a dream wrapped and bound and hidden in hope. What makes a hoard so special – and so very personal?
The Hoards: a hidden history of ancient Britain is still shining its way through the Museum galleries and our next set of events is coming up fast. Why not drop in and join us? all events are free and where materials are involved, they will be provided. Children of 7 years and less need to bring an adult with them but otherwise events are open to everyone
Sunday 26 May, 12 noon–3.30pm Giants, dragons and terrible traps
How would you protect your hoard? Would there be a monster rumbling in a corner? Would there be a dragon resting on the pile of your gold? Or would you design some terrible trap, a maze of crushing rocks and flying spikes and trapdoors to flip a robber into a bottomless pit….
Cartoonist Martin Olsson will help you draw your treasure and how you would keep it hidden!
Thursday 30 May, 10am–12noon Make and take: curious coins
Counting your pennies…..what coins will fill your hoard? Have a look at the coins in the exhibiton: there are horses and hands, gods and heroes, numbers, names and things we cannot decipher. Would you be the face on your lost gold? Would you hoard some unicorn pennies or open-hand thruppenies, or wren farthings…..
Design your own coins with local artist Sarah Males.
Allow 45 minutes.
Sunday 2 June, 12noon–3.30pm Silk purses and sow’s ears
“What would hold your hoard? Do you want a beautiful patterned purse, all beads and embroidery? Or would you like a painted pouch pulled tight with a drawstring to hold your hoarded coins safe? Or maybe you are a sow’s ear person, a folded twist of old leather, tough as boots and bristling with a the last of a pig’s hair
Make your own treasure bag with the Creeping Toad team, a special something to keep your coins in.
Bret Gaunt sheds more light on some of the Roman artefacts at Buxton Museum:
With the arrival of the Romans in the 1st century a new culture was introduced to the tribal lands of the Corieltauvi, the native, Iron Age people of the Peak District. Although the region remained largely agricultural, the Romans exploited the rich lead deposits and established forts, such as Melandra and Brough, to control both the commodities and the local people. The Romans also built the town of Buxton, centred on the sacred thermal spring.
One of the ways in which the Romans integrated into the local cultures that became part of the Empire, was by the adoption of local gods into the pantheon of Rome. The Iron Age Celts largely worshipped at open air sites, most often associated with water, such as lakes, bogs, rivers and sacred springs. One of the most famous watery sites in the Peak District is the thermal spring at Buxton, then known as Aquae Arnemetiae, meaning ‘the Waters of the goddess Arnemetia’.
Buxton is one of only two places in Roman Britain known to have the prefix ‘Aquae’, the other being Bath in Somerset, known to the Romans as Aquae Sulis (the Waters of the goddess Sulis). Like its counterpart in the South, Roman Buxton consisted of a series of Bath houses, now under the Crescent, close to the sacred springs. On the Slopes, overlooking the site of the baths and springs, was a temple dedicated to the goddess Arnemetia; excavations in the late 18th century revealed that the temple was of typical Classical design with a rectangular podium supporting a shrine room with portico of columns to the front. Such temples are a rarity in Roman Britain with only five such examples being known; temples in Roman Britain more often take the form known as Romano-Celtic, being a tower type structure with colonnaded ambulatory around all four sides.
The name of the goddess Arnemetia contains the Celtic word ‘nemeton’, meaning ‘sacred grove’; so her name is interpreted as being ’she who dwells over against the sacred grove’. The springs at Buxton must have held special powers for the local people as there are six grouped closely together in the valley floor and which provide both hot and cold water. During the Roman period offerings of jewellery and coins were made at one of the springs located between The Old Hall Hotel and the Crescent; these finds are now in the Wonders of the Peak gallery at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery.
Other evidence for the goddess Arnemetia comes in the form of an altar from the fort of Navio, close to the village of Brough, and now in the Wonders of the Peak gallery. Here the goddess is given the name Arnomecta. The altar was found in the underground strong-room of the headquarters building and consists of the typical block shape with a pair of bolsters to the top and inscription to the front. The inscription, which is contained within a wreath, reads ‘Deae Arnomecte Ael(ius) Motio V(otum S(olvit) L(aetus) L(ibens) M(erito), meaning ‘To the goddess Arnomecta, Aelius Motio gladly, willingly, and deservedly fulfilled his vow’.
Altars were central to the cults of most gods and was the focus for sacrifices and offerings to the particular deity. At temple sites the altar was generally outside, and opposite the main door, though at military shrines in forts and Romano-Celtic temples the altars were often placed inside and against the walls. The large outdoor altars were for the public ceremonies associated with the deity, which generally involved the sacrifice of animals accompanied by prayers for the well-being of the Emperor and the community. The smaller altars would have been more suitable for the offering of food, incense and for wine to be poured over the top. It was not unusual for an altar to be erected or promised to a god in exchange for a safe journey or other favour, thus the phrase ‘gladly, willingly and deservedly fulfilled his vow’ on the Navio altar shows that whatever Aelius Motio asked for, the gods provided!
Other altars in Buxton Museum and Art Gallery include the top to a large Imperial altar from Melandra Roman fort near Glossop, a badly weathered altar from Hope village, as well as a small altar dedicated to Mars, god of war, from Brough. There must have been numerous altars set up at the healing shrine of Arnemetia in Buxton, including a large altar outside the temple for the focus of worship, but to date none have been found. Many of the altars were dedicated by people from across the Empire; an altar at Haddon Hall, near Bakewell, is dedicated to the Roman god of war Mars, and the Celtic goddess of sacred intoxication, Braciaca, by a high ranking officer from Numidia in North Africa, revealing the diverse cultures that existed in Roman Derbyshire.
A few months or so ago, a friend of mine told me of his father’s experience whilst out driving his car in the Peak District area in 1965. Mr Cave heard the frantic screaming of women, children and the shouting of men and the sounds of weapons. His experience so chilled and frightened him that he never drove down that road again. Mr Cave actually left written descriptions of what he heard on a dry and sunny afternoon in 1965 quite a few years later; obviously the experience lingered powerfully with him.
The location of the encounter was near Fin Cop where an archaeological excavation unearthed the remains of a brutal massacre. It is easy to write off the experience as the product of a stimulated imagination until you realise that Fin Cop was only excavated ten years ago; forty-five years later!
Of course, museums are bastions of knowledge and only deal in scientific facts but you could argue that experiences like this are just phenomena that have yet to be explained by established logic and should not be dismissed lightly.
If you have any experiences of Fin Cop you would like to share, ghostly or otherwise, please get in touch. The mysterious site features permanently in The Wonders of the Peak exhibition at Buxton Museum and admission is free. Plan your visit here.
If you’ve ever wanted to visit the lofty spa town of Buxton and its museum, 2019 would a good time. We have two exhibitions focusing on aspects of local life: As we look forward to the re-opening of The Crescent as a spa hotel and visitor experience, our summer exhibition will focus on this iconic Buxton building with art works and artefacts from our collection.
On May 31st 1999, media in the High Peak changed forever. Radio Buxton took to the airwaves for the first time and five years later High Peak Radio was launched. 20 years on, the two brothers who founded both stations curate an exhibition featuring reconstructions of the original Radio Buxton studio. They’ll also be a ‘pirate’ studio including items of memorabilia, equipment and original recordings.
This year we are excited to be hosting Hoards: The Hidden History of Ancient Britain. Discover buried treasure and find out the various reasons why people put precious objects into the ground and why they did not retrieve them. The exhibition brings together finds from the British Museum and Salisbury Museum, including spectacular Iron Age gold torcs and recent discoveries from Wessex. We’ll also be displaying hoards from Derbyshire and the Peak District including additional material from Beeston Tor.
As usual, there is also a changing programme of art exhibitions and events. Download your 2019 What’s On below and plan your visit here.