Building work starts at museum

BUILDING has begun on Salisbury Museum’s new Wessex Gallery, which will tell the story of Salisbury and the surrounding area.

The new gallery will be of international importance and exhibits will range from prehistoric times to the Norman Conquest, explaining why Salisbury and its nearby World Heritage Sites hold a unique place in British history.

Museum director Adrian Green said the major construction work will be complete by Christmas and the new gallery will be ready in about seven months.

The museum has some of northern Europe’s most important archaeological finds, including many from Stonehenge, and these treasures will finally go on display thanks to a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of nearly £2m.

Mr Green said: “We are absolutely overjoyed to be creating what will be a world class gallery of archaeology.”

The permanent collection includes the Pitt Rivers Wessex Collection and the Amesbury Archer, as well as many artefacts from Stonehenge. About 250 pieces have been loaned to the new visitor’s centre at Stonehenge as part of a partnership between Salisbury Museum, Wiltshire Museum and English Heritage.

The Wessex Gallery will place the story of Stonehenge within its wider chronological and regional context, with a particular focus on the people of the past and the stories they tell.

This will include the Amesbury Archer, who dates back to 2,200-2,400BC and was found with the oldest gold objects in Britain. The gallery will also explore the stories of the archaeologists who uncovered the past, such as William Stukeley, who was one of the first to link the druids with Stonehenge.

From Stonehenge itself key objects will include the gneiss mace-head found by Colonel William Hawley in 1924 and a Bronze Age axe and dagger, which match the carvings on stone 53 discovered by Professor Richard Atkinson in July 1953.


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