Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Jenner exhibit

Today marked the last day of the archaeological exhibit in the Jenner Museum featuring some of the items uncovered during the University of Bristol's excavations in the Jenner Garden and Castle grounds. Jack Fuller and Wil Partridge were the student leads researching and then presenting the archaeological finds for visitors. A year later they reflect on the experience of developing the exhibit.
Dr. Jenner's House
"It was a lot of hard work, but really rewarding" explains Jack, motioning to the pile of finds waiting to be catalogued, "it's great to see everything that's been dug up over the years". Along with Roman features, were found some post-Roman skeletons and evidence for Anglo-Saxon occupation of the area. This caused considerable excitement among the team as it contributes to our knowledge about post-Roman occupation and the presence of the Anglo-Saxon Minster. Another particularly exciting object on the display was a twisted copper alloy bracelet dating to around 800AD and an associated polyhedral pin also dating to the Viking times.
Jack holds a delicate pin that is packed carefully away as part of cataloguing
Stuart Prior explained that the Jenner Museum exhibition was important because "for the first time, the local community and visitors were able to see exactly the kind of material culture that we were excavating from the trench". The exhibition also displayed artefacts from medieval phases of the site, including loom weights and floor tiles along with musket balls from the Civil War. Karen, from the Jenner Museum team, told us that she thought the exhibit "definitely added value to the visitor experience", and that kids and families were especially interested in looking at the artefacts: "Honestly, I'm sorry to see the exhibition go!"
Clay pipes are bagged and tagged, ready for storage
The Jenner House and Museum are known for being the home of Dr Edward Jenner, and it was the Jenner Gardens and the Temple of Vaccina in which Dr Jenner famously researched and developed vaccinations against small pox (thank you Daisy the cow for your contributions to science!). Jenner himself, and the other Georgian occupants of the house also left material culture for us to find. Objects found in the Jenner Garden dating to these times included a number of clay pipes, buttons and broken glass snuff bottles (discarded by being tossed over the garden wall). Another exciting find next to the Temple of Vaccinia was the skeleton of a small dog dating to the time of Jenner's occupation and there is a lot of gossip buzzing around the site suggesting that this dog was Dr Jenner's own pet dog (along with rumours that it may have been dissected?!).
Beautiful twisted bracelet
Well done to Jack and Wil for producing such and interesting and well presented exhibition that has proved to be a great success over the past year! We're all looking forward to future displays of all of the BRILLIANT finds that we will uncover in the years to come.
The camera-shy duo hard at work!

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