Thursday, October 10, 2013

Museum at Mildenhall

The wind is chasing the leaves off the tree outside, the weather has turned cold and was equally as cold in Mildenhall yesterday.  There is not much to write about this little town, it has a pretty market centre and that is about all.  The small museum has just had an extension and was officially opened on Tuesday, we went on Wednesday, and probably their first public visitors.  We were greeted by the three volunteers, very friendly and charming and the husband of one took us round and explained everything. The heritage grant had been spent well, museums can often be tatty because of lack of money, this cottage museum housed two very fine collections, copies of the silver hoard of the Mildenhall Roman Treasure and the glass cased Lakenheath Saxon Warrior with his horse plus of course beautiful prehistoric hand axes, arrowheads, bronze age pottery and the various implements of the 19th century kitchen and farm.

Saxon warrior with his trusty steed
LS photo

Note the bucket, food for the horse in the after world
LS photo

This horse is my favourite, when his master died, poor creature must have been poleaxed on the forehead, so that he could accompany him in the grave.  Must have been about 17 hands high, sturdy bones almost shire like and a beautiful skeletal head, LS noted filigree on the head bones, marks of his harness. The Saxon warrior has his shield boss, all that remains of his wooden shield  on his chest and between the two skeletons was a smaller skeleton of a sheep, food again for the after world.  There is a tale to be told about the bucket, the glass casing which is hermetically sealed, was made in Edinburgh, and cost a lot of money, when it came down to the museum and was assembled, as they lowered the top covering it broke on the bucket, which was obviously higher than the sides. So that is why you see a round disc for the bucket.
LS thinks that bones should not be on display in museums, an act of disrespect, it is a very controversial subject, without these bones we would not have this rather hauntingly beautiful tableau of 1500 years ago. It is an educational tool for all those children that will be brought to the museum though.  How can we approach such dilemmas I am not sure, I know within the Pagan fringe that they demand the reburial of many prehistoric bones, especially at Stonehenge.
My photos did not come out well, there seems to be some shake on my camera, must really get down to buying another but the following of the Mildenhall Roman Treasure replicas will have to do, the story can be caught on the Museum's website of their acquisition, there may have been more stuff, which got sold abroad.


  1. Thank you for sharing this with us. Like you, I'm in two minds should we rebury or show to understand our past. I just seem so sad he was buried by his people with all that respect but now lays out for our time to stare at him in wonder.

  2. Hi Paula, yes it is sad, but reburial is difficult given the thousands of bones that have been dug up. Think of the medieval plague pits that are found, presumably the bones are disassembled with the archaeology...