I have just completed a 6 week internship at Leeds Museum Discovery Centre cataloguing archaeological finds from Dalton Parlours, the site of a Roman villa near Wetherby. I have had the chance to handle a variety of interesting objects including glassware, pottery, and jewellery as well as different kinds of metal instruments and tools.
This internship has given me a valuable insight into the world of museums and galleries with particular emphasis on properly storing and caring for collections. What has struck me in particular is the vast number of objects that can be excavated from just one archaeological site but, as in the case of Dalton Parlours, only a tiny proportion of a collection actually goes on public display. Accessibility to museum stores and archives therefore allows the general public to understand and be aware of the importance of using collections for the purposes of research and education.
While at first glance some glass beads, a piece of pottery or an iron bucket handle may not immediately stand out as fascinating objects, these fragments were once part of a whole, be it a necklace, a large pot or an iron bucket, and were used by ordinary people on a daily basis. While working on the catalogue, I came across several pots that are in many pieces. When I found some pots that were mostly intact, it gave me a better understanding of the kinds of vessels used in everyday life during the period that Dalton Parlours was in use [200 – 370AD] and that each individual object has its own story.
A number of objects from Dalton Parlours are on display in Leeds City Museum. The remainder of the archive is housed in Leeds Museum Discovery Centre and can be viewed by appointment.
Bucket handle: LEEDM.D.2008.0001.312
Author: Verity Smith, Leeds Museums and Galleries Intern 2010