Unidentified objects to go under the spotlight as part of pilot museum project

By Ben Fitzgerald - 29 August 2018


Forty years ago, a member of the public walked into the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery (SM&AG) in the hope that staff could identify an important archaeological horse’s tooth. When it turned out to be modern, the tooth was never collected and has remained at the museum ever since. It is one of a number of ‘identifications’ objects that were brought into the Museum for expert assessment and never collected.

The service is no longer available, but current museum staff are reviewing a group of objects that were never collected by their owners, including the tooth, flints, geological specimens and a fossil left in 1988. In some cases the owner of the objects believed they had come across a fascinating find, but this was not always the case and many people did not return to collect their interesting looking rocks and pebbles. 

Over the next few months, staff at the museum will be looking at each object to see if it’s suitable to include in the museum collections or if it could be used for other purposes, such as for handling and education. They will be sharing their research on social media where you can find out more about the objects, see photographs and follow the project’s progress.

The review of these objects is being carried out as part of the Heritage Lottery Funded project ‘Swindon’s Archaeology in Context’.  The project has spent the last two years focussing on SM&AG’s archaeology collections and as the project ends, is focusing on the trickier and more obscure parts of the collection.  The learning from this pilot study may be used in the future to look at how best to use other groups of ‘abandoned’ objects at the museum.

If you think you may have left one of the objects with the museum and want to collect it please email svincent@swindon.gov.ukor call 01793 466556.  Don’t worry if you’ve lost your paperwork, we can compare your details to our copies.

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