Thursday, 30 December 2010

New Year's Day closure

We are now not able to open on Saturday 1 January as previously advertised. We are, however, open on Sunday 2 January and Monday 3 January noon to 4pm.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

from all the staff, trustees and volunteers at Wiltshire Heritage Museum. We do hope you will be able to come and visit us during 2011.

Opening Hours

The Museum is open Tuesday 28 December noon to 4pm and throughout the remainder of the holiday period. Should we have to close due to adverse weather conditions we will post an item in the blog.

White Horses & Hill Figures

The originals might be covered in snow but why not bring visiting friends and relatives to the Museum to see how they should look!

Came earlier in the year? New items were added to the exhibition during November - check the What's On page of the website for details -

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Wed 22 December - Library closed

The Museum is open as normal, but because of poor travelling conditions, the Library will not be open today. The Library shold be open tomorrow as normal.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Monday 20 December - Museum open as normal

The Museum is open as normal today, and the Christmas Craft Workshop is starting at 11!

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Sunday 19 Dec - Museum open

The museum will be open from 12 on Sunday 19 Dec. Lots of gift ideas and our White Horses exhibition! We may, however, close early.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Saturday 18 December - Museum Closed

Due to the snow, the Museum will be closed on Saturday 18 December. YoungWANHS is also cancelled. We have now arranged a young wanhs fun session at 1.30pm on Tuesday afternoon with food, music and activities including candle painting and making crackers and traditional decorations.

We will continue to update the blog with details of museum opening during the cold weather.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Museum opening in bad weather

We will be updating this blog with details about our opening hours in the event of bad weather over the coming few days. Please check the website before travelling.

Archive and Library closed - afternoon of 17 December

Due to the bad weather, we will not be able to open the Archive and Library this afternoon. Our apologies.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Turn Back Time exhibition on BBC Radio Wiltshire

This morning, Ellie Pridgeon, our Archivist and Librarian, is on BBC Radio Wiltshire talking about our Turn Back Time exhibition. She will be talking about the images we have uploaded to the Flickr website and our plans to interview people. Find out more from our web page about the exhibition.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Christmas Craft Workshops - book early

Ali is running two of our very popular holiday activities just before Christmas - come along and make cards, decorations or wrapping paper for family, friends or just yourself!

Cost is £3.50 and workshops are running on Monday 20 and Tuesday 21 December from 11am to 12.30pm. All ages are welcome - although we do ask that under 8s are supervised.

Call the Museum on 01380 727369 or e-mail Ali directly - to book a place.

Book early to avoid disappointment.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Book inspired by Museum collections!

West Briton Story is Tom O'Rourke's first book, which he started in his 50th year - following a promise he made to himself at the age of 17.

The author was inspired by the Roundway necklace in our collection (click here to see the necklace on the Museum website). The author's son, also named Tom, has digitally reconstructed the necklace for use on the frontispiece of the book and on the books' website.

The book, set in 6th century Britain, tells of a time of dramatic West Saxon expansion west and north, and the first moves towards settlement with the West Britons, all as seen through the eyes of Rhuadrac, the younger brother of the champion of a West Briton king.

You can buy the book from our website - just visit our Online Shop.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Special Offer - 10% Discount on Books

For WANHS members we are offering a 10% discount on books purchased in the Museum shop between now and Christmas. Please call in, check the website or contact the Shop Manager to see what's available.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

New edition of Trilithon out now!

The latest edition of our newsletter for members will be arriving on doormats across the country over the next couple of days! Highlights include Jim Leary on the Marden excavations ...

New AFG newsletter - Calne Castle revisited!

Find out more about the Archaeology Field Group excavation! Read the online newsletter ...

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Lunchtime talk - Lord Avebury - archaeologist, naturalist and inventor f Bank Holidays!

On Wednesday November, Adrian Green, Director of Salisbury Museum, will be talking about the fascinating life of Sir John Lubbock, 1st Lord Avebury at 1.10 on Wednesday 10 November.

More details

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Sir Thomas Lawrence - Devizes and "Regency Power and Brilliance"

The latest exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery is about the wonderful portraits of Sir Thomas Lawrence. He grew up in Devizes, and was at school in one of the buildings that later became the museum! We have a number of his sketches and objects connected to him in our collections, and also have a wonderful biography in our Library.

Devizes High Street on BBC Turn Back Time Flickr group

Featured on BBC Radio Wiltshire's Curator's Choice was this photo - showing Devizes High Street in the 1950's. Archives, libraries and museums across the country are posting views of their High Street to a Flickr group - this is our first!

Devizes High Street

See more pictures from the Turn back Time Flickr group below

items in BBC Turn Back TimeMore in BBC Turn Back Time pool

This is a Flickr badge showing public items from the BBC Turn Back Time group pool. Make your own badge here.

Friday, 29 October 2010


Enjoy an extra hour's sleep and then come along to our Victorian themed Family Day. 11am to 4pm this Sunday, 31 October.

The day is ideal for children who are studying the Victorians or old toys with lots of fun for everyone from crafts to costumes to role play.

* Victorian school lessons
* Washday activity
* Art and craft activities such as making peg dolls, paper quilling and decoupage
* Photos in costume
* Victorian toys and objects to handle and Victorian style toys to play with.

Staff will even be dressed in costume (borrowed from the Wharf Theatre)!

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Half-term Family Fun

Halloween workshops and a Victorian themed Family Day are just two of the activities we have organised for the half-term week.

On Tuesday 26th we have Halloween themed activities for under 6s and on Wednesday 27th there are Norman adventures for the over 6s. Kaleidoscopes and colour is the theme for the activities on Thursday 28th. All workshops cost £3.50 per child and prior booking is essential. Visit our events page for more details -

Finally on Sunday 31st (just after the clocks go back so an extra hour in bed!) we have a Victorian themed Family Day from 11am to 4pm. There will be an opportunity to take part in a Victorian school leson, to have a photograph taken in costume or to try a Victorian craft activity such as making peg dolls, paper quilling and decoupage. In addition there will be washday items available to handle and Victorian style toys to play with. All this free for children and just £2.5o for adults.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Come and join our team as Membership Services Officer.

We are looking for someone to work with us on our Membership database, and to act as a contact point for our 1000+ members.

Initially the post is for 7 hours a week, starting in December. Scope to increase hours from April 2011. Pay: £8.08 per hour.

Download a job description and an application form.

Applications by 10am Friday 19 November.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Archive & Library Saturday Opening: Update

Please note that due to extensive refurbishment and reorganisation, the Archive & Library will be closed on Saturdays until November. We will advertise the new and permanent opening hours from the beginning of November. Please email / phone the Archivist & Librarian if you have any queries or would like to make an appointment to visit:

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Early Closing of Museum

The Museum will close early on Saturday 9 October at 3.45pm (last entry 3pm), to enable staff and volunteers to attend the lecture 'A Wheelbarrow full of surprises ... A re-evaluation of some early Bronze Age graves', which is being held at Devizes Town Hall at 4pm. Tickets are free for WANHS members, £5 for non-members - see the What's On section of our website for full details

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Major Changes to Archive & Library

The Archive & Library is currently undergoing major changes. These include the installation of roller racking (to improve preservation) in the Journal Store. As a result, opening hours may vary for the next few weeks. Please phone or email the Archivist & Librarian (Dr Ellie Pridgeon) before your visit (

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Archive and Library closed on Friday and Saturday

Due to staff shortages, the Archive & Library will be closed on Friday 1st & Saturday 2nd October. We apologise for any inconvenience. Service will resume as usual on Tuesday October 5th.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

More Archive & Library Volunteers needed

We need dedicated people to join our team of volunteers in the Archive & Library at the Museum. Hours and times are flexible. Tasks range from scanning, cataloguing, customer service and dusting. Please email Ellie Pridgeon (Archivist) if you are interested:

Library Closed Saturday 25th

Our Library will be closed on Saturday 25 September. If you have any queries please contact the Archivist and Librarian at

Monday, 20 September 2010

MacMillan Coffee Morning

Thank you to everyone who came along this morning to support our Coffee Morning fundraiser for MacMillan Cancer Support – everyone has been so generous and we have raised a grand total of £121.00.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Monday, 13 September 2010

MacMillan Coffee morning - 20 Sept

We are holding a Coffee Morning for MacMillan Cancer Support on Monday 20 September from 10.30 am – 12 pm. All welcome so please come along and help support a good cause.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Auction of Promises

Bid for - a guided tour of Avebury and the Alexander Keiller Museum

On Sunday 12 September we will be holding an Auction of Promises at the Museum. Come along and bid for some very special items, including:

* Lunch with Claire Perry, MP for Devizes, at the House of Commons.
* Have a Geophysical survey carried out.
* A Spa day for two at Lucknam Park
* A guided tour of Avebury and the Alexander Keiller Museum.
* Have your own personal chef for a day (with a graduate of the Academy of Culinary Arts).
* Have a days paintballing (for groups of 8).
* Get six expert flower arrangements.
* A guided tour of the Fox Talbot Museum, Lacock, including an introduction to dating photographs.
* A replica Bush Barrow lozenge pendant and earrings (18c gold on plate).
* A Days fishing on the River Avon.
* Signed limited edition etchings by Dave Gunning.

A catalogue is now available on our website at

There will also be a licensed bar.

The auction commences at 2pm with local auctioneer Alan Aldridge. If you are unable to attend, silent bids can be taken until 12noon on Saturday 11 September.
Contact Diann Barnett ( for enquiries or further details.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Introduction to Geology

An 8-week evening lecture course (with a field trip) discovering how the landscape was formed.

The series of seven lectures and a field trip, which will start on Tuesday 28 September 2010 at 7.30pm, are aimed at introducing geology to anyone interested in how the landscape was formed - from plate movements and continental drift, climate patterns and rock types to how Wiltshire was formed, the evolution of life and how man uses minerals and ores.

The lectures will be given by Isobel Geddes who has degrees from London and Oxford universities and is a Blue Badge Guide. She is also the author of Hidden Depths: Wiltshire's Geology and Landscapes (published by Ex Libris Press, Bradford-on-Avon, in 2000) and has also contributed geology chapters to other books, including The Avebury Landscape – Aspects of the field archaeology of the Marlborough Downs (published by Oxbow Books in 2005 for English Heritage, edited by Graham Brown, David Field & David McOmish). She currently produces short geology and landscape guides as well as managing Wiltshire's Local Geological Site records and related projects for the Wiltshire Geology Group.

The lecture course costs £60 (£50 for WANHS members) and places can be booked on-line at, or from Wiltshire Heritage Museum on 01380 727369 (10.00am to 5.00pm Monday to Saturday) or

The Museum’s Director, David Dawson, said “We are delighted that Isobel has offered to give this series of lectures. The content of the course is fascinating and although not focused primarily on Wiltshire, Isobel knows the county well and will refer where possible to the local landscape. Our Geology field trips are always popular and I’m sure these lectures and associated field trip will be no different”.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Family History and Surnames

Fundraising Lecture on 25 September by Professor David Hey.

Every part of England still has its distinctive surnames, formed locally several hundred years ago despite all the mobility of recent years. Professor Hey’s research, combining linguistics with genealogy and DNA, has enabled a firmer understanding of the places where surnames originated, which are often different to the meanings given in dictionaries. Professor Hey has also agreed to provide the winner of a special prize draw with a personal description of the meaning and origin of a chosen surname – but excluding obvious foreign names.

David Hey, who is well known to family and local historians is currently President of the British Association of Local History and before his retirement was Professor of Local History at the University of Sheffield. He has written widely on the subject, including The Oxford Companion to Local and Family History. He believes there is not much satisfaction for the family historian in simply finding names and dates – our ancestors only becoming real people when we discover their homes, their places of work, leisure and worship and the peculiar nature of the towns, villages and wider neighbourhoods that they knew so well.
‘Family History and Surnames’ is the topic of the Annual Fundraising Lecture to be given by Professor David Hey on Saturday 25 September at the Corn Exchange Devizes, on behalf of the Wiltshire Heritage Museum.

Every part of England still has its distinctive surnames, formed locally several hundred years ago despite all the mobility of recent years. Professor Hey’s research, combining linguistics with genealogy and DNA, has enabled a firmer understanding of the places where surnames originated, which are often different to the meanings given in dictionaries. Professor Hey has also agreed to provide the winner of a special prize draw with a personal description of the meaning and origin of a chosen surname – but excluding obvious foreign names.

David Hey, who is well known to family and local historians is currently President of the British Association of Local History and before his retirement was Professor of Local History at the University of Sheffield. He has written widely on the subject, including The Oxford Companion to Local and Family History. He believes there is not much satisfaction for the family historian in simply finding names and dates – our ancestors only becoming real people when we discover their homes, their places of work, leisure and worship and the peculiar nature of the towns, villages and wider neighbourhoods that they knew so well.

The Lecture will be held in the Corn Exchange, Devizes on Saturday 25 September at 2.30pm.
Tickets cost £10 and are available from the Wiltshire Heritage Museum shop or on-line at .

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Additions to White Horse Exhibition

An exciting new selection of artworks now on display.

Artworks by locally and nationally important artists has been added to our White Horses and Hill Figures exhibition, including works by artists David Inshaw, Brian Rusher, Helen Chester and Sarah Padwick.

The exhibition includes historical items and ephemera related to white horses and hill figures as well as artistic interpretations such as photography, artwork, ceramics and poetry created by local national and international artsits. The items include normally unseen pieces from the
Museums' collection, other organisations, private collectors and artists. Also featured throughout are stunning aerial photographs by Last Refuge Ltd.

Marden artefacts go online

Items from the 1969 excavation of Marden Henge have recently been made available on-line.

Another 3,500 records of items in the collections of Wiltshire Heritage Museum in Devizes have been uploaded to their website, including the records of artefacts found during the 1969 excavation of Marden Henge.

The prehistoric site at Marden is 8 miles south east of Devizes and halfway between Avebury and Stonehenge and is currently being re-investigated by English Heritage. Marden Henge is the largest henge monument in Britain, enclosing an area of around 14 hectares with its enormous bank and ditch. New and important discoveries have been made, including the floor of a prehistoric rectangular building, estimated to be some 4500 years old!

Also now online are records for a large collection of fossils found in Wiltshire in the late 19th century by William Cunnington III, a well-known amateur geologist. He started collecting fossils at the age of seven and his extensive collection, amounting to some 20,000 fossils and geological specimens, was divided between the Wiltshire Heritage Museum and the Natural History Museum in London after his death.

The total number of records on the Museum’s website is now a staggering 89,200, accompanied by 4,500 digital images.

Jim Leary, Director of the excavation of Marden Henge said “Being able to easily access information online about the finds excavated at Marden in 1969 by Geoffrey Wainwright has proved invaluable to the research we are carrying out at the moment. We are able to take the information straight from the website and compare it to the material found in our recent excavation, making some new and important discoveries. Wiltshire Heritage Museum is one of the few smaller museums in the country to have its collections available to view online. It is extremely important that excavation archives like this one are made accessible to archaeologists carrying out new research in the field.

Forum on Wiltshire's White Horses

Following on from the success of our White Horses Day School and the continuing appeal of our Summer exhibition White Horses and Hill Figures a special one day forum has been organised.

The forum will consist of illustrated talks on the county’s chalk figures, by many of the experts, societies and groups that research and look after the county’s chalk figures. Topics for the forum, which is aimed at inspiring and informing anyone interested in the subject, will include the creation, design, history, associated folklore, maintenance and surrounding landscape of the chalk figures.

It is hoped the forum will lead to the formation of a Wiltshire White Horses and Hill Figures network and research group led by the Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society (WANHS), which will aim to promote the understanding and appreciation of Wiltshire’s chalk figures to the wider public.

Tickets for the forum, which is open to all and runs from 10am to 4pm, on Saturday 11 September 2010, cost £5 (£3 for WANHS members) and pre-booking is essential. Tickets can be purchased on-line at, or from Wiltshire Heritage Museum on 01380 727369 (10.00am to 5.00pm Monday to Saturday) or

The Museum’s Exhibition Officer, Jenna Spellane, said “The Wiltshire White Horses and Hill Figures Forum accompanies the exciting major exhibition White Horses and Hill Figures currently on show at the Wiltshire Heritage Museum (until 3 October 2010). The exhibition, a fascinating and visually stunning exploration of the chalk figures of Wiltshire and beyond, has been hugely successful, attracting visitors from all over Wiltshire as well as from all over Britain and the world. Featured are historical items and ephemera, photography, artwork, ceramics and poetry created by local, national and international artists in addition to stunning aerial photographs by Last Refuge Ltd. The forum promises to be a very informative event for anyone interested in the county’s chalk figures.”

Usual Museum admission charges apply.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Successful White Horses Family Day

200 people came to our White Horses Family Day on Sunday 25 July. Activities included bag painting, chalk carving, making White Horse pictures, and sand-pit excavations.

We also made a huge version of the John Piper-designed window in the Museum - the picture was cut into sections, and people painted their own section. The results were remarkable and lots of people (even adults) had great fun making their own section.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Public Spending Cuts and Wiltshire Heritage Museum

Amidst all the talk of the impact of public spending cuts on arts and culture, it is useful to talk about the position of Wiltshire Heritage Museum. We are an independent charity, and recieve £35,000 in grant aid from Wiltshire Council and £3,000 from Devizes Town Council. For each £1 in public fundng, we generate £7 ourselves.

We generate income from shop sales, fundraising, membership subscriptions, events and entrance charges. We also have capital invested to generate income, and a seperate endowment fund - and are therefore already running the plural funding model being trumpeted as being the solution for the forthcoming cuts in public spending.

Is this model working? 'YES' - in the sense that we are flourishing and have record visitor numbers, and 'NO' in that we have an annual deficit of £30,000 or more, depending upon the pitiful level of investment income in these days of a 0.5% interrest rate.

We are already part of the 'Big Society' - we could not exist without the fantastic support of our 150+ volunteers, who give us 6,000 hours of their time every year.

A useful comparison is the level of grant that we recieve. Our grant is about £1.30 per visitor, which also supports our education activities and the role that we play in preserving the archaeological collections that result from housing development in the County. This housing development then generates additional Council Tax income in the County. Compare this with the National Museums - my calculations suggest £7 in grant per visitor to the British Museum and £25 per visitor for the V&A - though I may have misunderstood the figures.

Are we unusual? As an independent museum - the answer is an emphatic 'NO'. Many independent museums across the Country work in very similar ways, including our partner museum in Salisbury.

What do independent museums need in these challenging times? Tax breaks to encourage philanthropy? Yes Please! But also a recognition that our impact on the local economy can be significant - we have estimated that we generate upwards of 1,000 bed nights in local B&Bs and hotels as well as spending in local pubs and restaurants. This represents an injection of upwards of £150,000 each year into the local economy. Perhaps not a bad return on investment ...

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

White Horses Day School this Saturday

Leading experts will be talking about White Horses and Hill Figures at Saturday's Day School that accompanies our exhibition. The programme is online and features
* Brian Edwards, Public Historian
* Paul Newman 'Galloping through the centuries: introducing Britain's hill figures
* David Miles 'The Uffington White Horse: A biography of an English icon'
* Bryn Walters 'New discoveries and thoughts on prehistoric monumental iconography'
* Professor Martin Bell 'The Wilmington Giant: A geoarchaeological perspective'
* Rodney Castleden 'Two chalk giants. who are they - and how can we tell?

Map of finds in the Devizes Area

We have just added a map of finds in the Devizes Consituency area to our website - on our page about the Portable Antiquities Scheme, this now displays a map of local finds.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Marking Lorna Haycock's retirement

We ae holding an event on Thursday lunchtime to mark the retirement of Lorna Haycock - our fantastic Librarian and Archvist. We wish her well in her retirement - that already looks to be pretty busy!

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Stonehenge Avebury Bus - linking the World Heritage Site

The Wiltshire Heritage Museum is considering launching a bus service to link Stonehenge and Avebury. At the moment, it is extremely difficult to travel between the two, and the Museum hopes to be able to boost tourism in the Vale of Pewsey and the Avon Valley.

The Community Bus Service would be operated by minibuses, and the route would take in a range of archaeological sites and monuments in the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site, including Silbury Hill, West Kennet Long Barrow and Woodhenge.

The 'hop on, hop off' service would include free entry to the Wiltshire Heritage Museum in Devizes, encouraging people to discover the collections excavated from the World Heritage Site. The service will also link to Amesbury - enabling visitors to the town to visit Stonehenge.

If the Museum is successful in raising funding, a pilot service would be operated this summer.

We are interested to hear what you think about the idea, and to hear your ideas on a name! The current front-runners are 'Henge Hopper' and Stonehenge Avebury Link. Please help us by completing the suvey form below!

Survey form

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Sat 17 July - Library Closed

Unfotunately, the Library will be closed on Sat 17 July. We apologise in advance for any inconvenience. Over the summer period, it may not be possible to open the Library fo a few days. If you are making a special trip to use the Library, then please telephone us in advance to check.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Devizes Food Festival - Secret Recipe for Devizes Cheescake

Find out about the secret recipe for Devizes Cheesecake at Dave Buxton's talk at the Museum this Sunday.

Davizes Cheescake was famous - Jane Austen wrote a letter to her sister Cassandra on in 1799, while she was staying in the town.

“Our journey yesterday went off exceedingly well; nothing occurred to alarm or delay us. We found the roads in excellent order, had very good horses all the way, and reached Devizes with ease by four o'clock. I suppose John has told you in what manner we were divided when we left Andover, and no alteration was afterwards made. At Devizes we had comfortable rooms and a good dinner, to which we sat down about five; amongst other things we had asparagus and a lobster, which made me wish for you, and some cheesecakes, on which the children made so delightful a supper as to endear the town of Devizes to them for a long time.”

Devizes Food Festival - TV Chef at Museum

We are looking forward to Devizes Food and Drink Festival! We are hosting a talk on the History of Grain by TV Chef Peter Vaughan this Saturday!

Thursday, 3 June 2010

White horses art competition

We're hosting a White Horses themed art competition!
Click the picture for a higher-res version.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Monday, 17 May 2010

Blacknall Field seminar hosted at UCL

The Society and the UCL Institute of Archaeology are launching the report on the Anglo Saxon Cemetery at Blacknall Field, Pewsey, Wiltshire on 30 June 2010 at the Institute of Archaeology in London. Speakers at the seminar include Dr Bruce Eagles, Dr Caroline Stuckert, Dr Nick Stoodley, Dr Tania Dickinson, and Dr Sue Harrington. The event will be followed by a wine reception. Copies of both monographs will be on sale at the event offering 20% discount off the retail price

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Devizes festival Programme - Museum talk "Green Treasures from the magic mountains"

The Devizes Festival website at is now online. We are supporting a lecture by Alison Sheridan, Head of Early Prehistory at National Museums Scotland, on "The green treasures from the magic mountains: the 'life story' of the magnificent Neolithic axehead from Breamore"- for more details see our listing and book from the Festival Box Office.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Want to be our Librarian and Archivist? Few days left to apply!

There are just a few days left to apply to join us as Librarian and Archivist.

The job description and application form are online, and you can apply by email. You must also send us a signed copy of your application, but this can arrive in the post after the deadline.

Applications must be returned by 5pm on 13 May, and we plan to interview shortlisted candidates on 25 May.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Researching Stonehenge and Avebury Seminar Programme

The Programme for the Stonehenge and Avebury Seminar being held on 22 May is now available from

The joint research seminar is being organised by the Prehistoric Society and the Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society in association with the Avebury Archaeological and Historical Research Group.

We now have approximately 10 tickets left for the event - and you can book your place online.

Friday, 30 April 2010

Calne Castle project ready to start

The Archaeology Field Group project at Calne Castle Hill Site project can now get under way, as approval for the first stage has been received from Wiltshire Council. The project aims to find archaeological evidence to show whether a castle ever existed on the site. There are 29 current or now disused local place names containing the word 'castle' which strongly suggests that there was a building, motte and bailey or hill fort of some importance on the site.

A small working party has been busy applying for a Challenge Fund grant from the Council for British Archaeology, obtaining licences, organising field work, and site protocols and has completed a Project Design. The first million brambles have also been cleared on the 10 x 10 metre site.

Initial survey work will carried out jointly with the Bath and Camerton Achaeological Society between 4 and 5 May 2010. In the expectation of stage 2 licence being granted excavation work has been scheduled for 5 to 19 July 2010 with public Open Days on 17 and 18 July to coincide with the first weekend of the Festival of British Archaeology.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Librarian and Archivist - job details

Following the announcement that Lorna Haycock, the Sandell Librarian, is to retire, we are now seeking to appoint a new Librarian and Archivist.

The job description and application form are now online.

Applications must be returned by 5pm on 13 May, and we plan to interview shortlisted candidates on 25 May.

Museum Librarian to retire

Our long-standing Librarian, Dr Lorna Haycock, has announced that she will be retiring in June, after 20 years service at the Wiltshire Heritage Museum. Lorna’s knowledge and expertise is well-known, and she has written a number of books about the history of Devizes. She brings the history of the town to life, through her many lectures, and also by her very popular guided walks. At the Museum, she has opened up the treasures of the Library to hundreds of researchers, and is assisted by a team of volunteers.

The Museum will now be starting the difficult task of finding a new Librarian to continue Lorna’s excellent work.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Prehistoric Wiltshire DVD Shortlisted for Award

Our Prehistoric Wiltshire DVD - presented by Phil Harding of Wessex Archaeology and Time Team - has been shortlisted for the BUFVC Learning on Screen Award for best Undergraduate Film. The DVD is now on sale for £12 plus p&p from our shop.

Monday, 12 April 2010

EVENING LECTURE: The Anglo-Saxon Cemetery at Blacknall Field, Pewsey

Illustrated lecture by Dr Bruce Eagles outlining the final conclusions of the post-excavation report on the excavation of the Saxon cemetery at Blacknall Field, Pewsey

The excavation, led by the late Ken Annable, uncovered more than 100 graves of men, women, children and infants, many of them accompanied by grave goods – swords, spears and jewellery – all of which are now in the Museum. Many of these objects can be dated to between AD c475 to c550, suggesting the starting date of the cemetery was among the earliest in this area. Detailed examination of the human bones indicates that the population was reasonably healthy, but also suffered much weapon-inflicted violence, perhaps related to the fact that at that time Pewsey lay near the western limit of Saxon settlement at the frontier with the Britons,

The long-awaited monograph on the excavation will be published on 21 April 2010. Copies of the book will be available to purchase after the lecture, at a 20% discount off the normal price of £40. Members who placed pre-publication orders may also collect their copies during the evening.

Stay after the lecture, have a glass of wine and view some of the artefacts in the Museum’s Saxon Gallery.

NB - an academic seminar on the excavation will be held at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London on 30 June 2010. Programme and other information will be posted on the Society website shortly.

Essential. Contact the Bookings Secretary on 01380 727369 or send us an e-mail.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Insignia of Dignity: The Bush Barrow Burial - Lecture by David Dawson - 29th April

Our Director, David Dawson is giving a Lecture on the Bush Barrow Burial on the 29th at Salisbury Museum.

Tickets are £5 (members) £6.50 (non-members)
To book please contact the Museum

The King's House, 65 The Close, Salisbury SP1 2EN
(01722) 332151

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Cathedrals as History - lecture by Jon Cannon - 23 April

Writer and broadcaster, jon Cannon is lecturing about Cathedrals as History; a Thousand Years. Jon worked for English Heritage, and teaches at the University of bristol. He wrote 'Cathedral: The Great English Cathedrals and the World That Made Them', and presented the 2008 BBC Documentary 'How to Build a Cathedral'.

This will be the Wiltshire Victoria County History Annual Lecture, in conjunction with Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum. The lecture will on 23 April, and the evening will begin with a glass of wine at 7. Tickets are £10 and are available from Salisbury Museum or by post from WVCH, 21 Elizabeth Drive, Devizes, SN10 3SB.

Where has Grim's Ditch gone?

The latest WANHS Archaeology Field Group newsletter about their project at Grims Ditch is now online. The team were looking fo evidence about Grim's Ditch in the South of the County, near Hindon.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Museum open over Easter! White Horses exhibition now open!

Our latest exhibition - White Horses and Hill Figures - is open over Easter. We are open on Saturday (10-5), Sunday (12-4) and Monday (12-4).

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

New Government Planning guidance to help museums

New Planning Guidance should mean that developer-led archaeology includes funding to curate the archive. Until now, this has rarely been paid for, meaning that museums are expected to store hundreds of boxes of finds, without any funding. A real problem for independent museums like us!

Monday, 15 March 2010

Saturday's lecture - the Fowles

Saturday 20 March - a lecture by Dr David Mitchell fron the University of London about brothers from the Pewsey Vale who became goldsmiths in London. Starts at 2.30 and you can book your ticket online.

Bitish Tourism Week - guided tours!

As part of our contribution to British Yourism Week, we will be running guided tours of the Museum on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday afternoons at 3pm. Collect a 2-for-1 voucher at the Tourist Information Centre for a discount!

Monday, 1 March 2010

The Siege of Devizes and the Battle of Roundway Down

Special lunchtime talk at 1.10 on Tuesday 2 March by Robin Hodges. The 'normal' lunctime talk was full and we had to turn people away ...

Friday, 12 February 2010

Society supports road closures at Stonehenge

The Society supports the road clsure proposed by Wiltshire Council at Stonehenge and has written to Wiltshire Council.

The Consultation is open until 15 February - full details and an online form are on the Wiltshire Council website.

The Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society supports without reservation the proposed Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) prohibiting motorised vehicles, with exceptions, on part of the A344 and the Byways within the Stonehenge World Heritage Site.

The inscription in 1986 by UNESCO of the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site indicated the necessity of closing the A344 by Stonehenge as an urgent consideration , and this has continued to be a just concern of the World Heritage Committee . The closure to motorised vehicles of the A344 is the crucial, necessary, enhancement of the immediate environment of the Stonehenge monument to re-join it to the Avenue, and, equally important, to eliminate the impact of motorised vehicles on the monuments and landscape in the central region of the World Heritage Site through which the A344 currently runs.

The equally imperative permanent TRO on the Byways within the Stonehenge World Heritage Site will not only enhance people’s appreciation of the World Heritage Site through the removal of the distraction of both moving and parked vehicles, but also minimise the ongoing damage to the archaeological remains, both scheduled monuments (e.g. SM 10317 and 10327) and the remains of other features which survive within the unploughed margins of the Byways, where current motorised vehicles have increasingly widened the traffic-worn and rutted tracks.

The Society encourages, for the same reasons and as a matter of parity, the Council to propose as soon as possible the permanent prohibition too of motorised vehicles on Byways in the Avebury part of the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site.

Monday, 1 February 2010

WW2 lectures coming up - Salisbury Plain and Devizes

We have two fascinating lectures coming up in the next few weeks about Wiltshire at War, running alongside our Special Exhibition. Book now to make sure you have a ticket!

Book online from our website!

Silbury Hill - new find in the archive!

New information has emerged from letters written in 1776 about excavations at Silbury Hill and published for the first time in the new volume of the Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine.

A local hisorian tracked down two letters, written in 1776 by Edward Drax to his friend, Lord Rivers, about excavations at Silbury Hill. Edward Drax from Bath , had hired a team of miners from the Mendips to dig a shaft from the top of Silbury Hill, to the centre of the hill, 125 feet below.

The letters record that at first, the miners found little but large chalk blocks and deer antler. However, at 95 feet, some 30 feet above they expected the base of the mound to be, the miners discovered what Drax records as a 'perpendicular cavity' that was 6 inches across, and that 'we have already followed it already about 20 feet, we can plumb it about Eleven feet more'. He says that ‘something now perished must have remained in this hole to keep it open’.

These letters, preserved in the British Library, suggest that a great timber post once stood in the centre of Silbury Hill, and matches a later account that fragments of oak timber were found at the centre of the mound. The timber may have stood over 40 feet above the earliest low mound which was one of the earliest phases in the construction of Silbury Hill.

Edward Drax went on to write 'I wait with impatience ... and then I hope shall make a further Discovery'. Unfortunately, no later letter survives at the British Library.

This article is one of 11 articles published in the Magazine, which is available only to Members of the Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society. Membership can be purchased online at Other articles include an analysis of fragments of bluestone found near Stonehenge, and new research about a Neolithic Jadeite stone axe in the collections of the Wiltshire Heritage Museum in Devizes.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

"You can get it at Nicol's" - talk about Pewsey's Department Store

Pewsey Heritage Centre are holding at talk about Nicol's Department Store on Saturday 27 February at 7.30pm at Pewsey Methodist Church. The talk is being given by Richard Giles, and the cost is £4.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Wiltshire Council approves Stonehenge Visitor Centre Plans

English Heritage has welcomed the news that Wiltshire Council have approved the Planning Application for the new Stonehenge Visitor Centre. For details - see the article on the Visitor Centre website, along with news of a consultation on the closure of by-ways in the World Heritage Site.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Wednesday lunchtime lecture - Stonehenge and latest developments

The Lunctime lecture is being held this week, following the snow last week! David Dawson will be talking about the latest developments at Stonehenge, including the Vistor Centre and some new reseach. Bring your sandwiches along - talk starts at 1.15 and costs £2.50 with a free coffee and biscuit 9or two!).

New AFG newsletter now online

The latest AFG newsletter about work on the line of a Roman road at Donhead St Mary is now online.

History of the World - 10 objects from Wiltshire Museums

Today sees the launch of the BBC Radio 4 series - A History of the World. Told throught he stories of 100 objects, the series focusses on 100 objects from the British Museum. Here in Wiltshire, 10 objects have been chosen to tell the story of Wiltshire from its museums, including the Bush Barrow lozenge.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Monday, 11 January 2010

Wiltshire museums join forces to tell story of Stonehenge

English Heritage, the Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum, and the Wiltshire Heritage Museum have agreed to collaborate on presenting and interpreting the story of the Stonehenge World Heritage Site.

The two museums will make loans from their collections to English Heritage for display in the proposed new visitor centre, while English Heritage will assist the two museums with their own displays and enhancing their archives to support the co-ordinated approach.

For the first time, the proposed new visitor centre at Airman’s Corner would have dedicated exhibition space, opening up great opportunities for making the story of Stonehenge and its setting accessible and engaging for everyone, whatever their age and interests.

Recent discoveries and research will also add to the complexity and richness of the information to be presented and interpreted.

Loraine Knowles, Stonehenge Project Director at English Heritage, said: “The future exhibition at the proposed new visitor centre will be part of an overall experience that will draw on all the senses and lead people to a greater understanding not just of Stonehenge but the generation of the people who built it.

"The knowledge and collections that local museums can contribute to creating this experience is considerable and I am very pleased that we are working together.”

Adrian Green, director of the Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum, said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with English Heritage and Wiltshire Heritage Museum.

"We look forward to supporting the development of the visitor centre, and also redisplaying our own nationally important collections from the World Heritage Site to complement the new exhibition at Stonehenge.”

David Dawson, director of the Wiltshire Heritage Museum in Devizes, said: “This is an exciting development that means that together we can present the full story of Stonehenge, and encourage visitors to explore Wiltshire.”

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Sunday 10 Jan - MUSEUM CLOSED

Due to the weather conditions, we have decided to close the Museum on Sunday 10 January. Our apologies.

Friday, 8 January 2010

9 Jan - Sam Moorhead lecture POSTPONED

Unfortunately the lecture by Sam Moorhead due to take place this Satuday has been canceled because of the weather conditions. We will be arranging a new date shortly, and tickets will be valid for the new date.

Museum open Saturday 9 Jan, but closed Sunday 10 Jan.

The Museum will be open from 10-3 this Saturday, but will be closed on Sunday.

Trip to British Museum Moctezuma exhibition cancelled!

We have decided to cancel the trip to the British Museum Moctezuma exhibition that was to take place on 12 January, because of the travel conditions. We will be refunding the cost. Unfortunately, as the exhibition is due to close soon, it will not be possible to re-arrange the trip.

Museum open as normal today! Friday 8 Jan

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Thursday 7 January - free entry today only!

As the schools are closed, the museum is open free today for adults, as well as children. A great chance to see our WW2 exhibition!

Sam Moorhead talk on Saturday 9 Jan - update to be posted on Saturday

We are still hoping that the lectue on Saturday will be on, if Sam Moorhead of the British Museum is able to get here!. We hope that we will be able to confirm if the lecture is going ahead by 10.30am on Saturday morning on the Blog.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Devizes Literary and Scientific Institution - new history!

We have just received copies of a new brief history of the Devizes Literary and Scientific Institution by Elizabeth Gibbs. The Institution has a fascinating history, and was founded in 1833, and moved to the present building on Northgate Street in 1907.
You can order the book online from our website!

Monday, 4 January 2010

Museum cat name chosen!

Our new museum cat's name has been chosen by Luke! Our cat, a cuddly toy who has been sleeping on the reception desk, is called Fuzzy.