A Snapshot of an English Heritage Archaeological Store 

English Heritage

Wrest Park Collection Store

The Wrest Park Stores
Totalling in excess of 160,000 accessioned objects, the collections stored at Wrest Park are from sites under the guardianship of English Heritage in the East and West Midlands, East of England and London.

The objects were originally held in two other stores at Atcham in Shropshire and Beeston in Norfolk.

Relocating took more than two years of continuous work by a dedicated team of curators, conservators, documentation specialists and technicians.

The building was originally used as a place for researching and developing agricultural equipment. It was transformed into an environmentally controlled collections store with industrial racking and a fork lift truck.

A new roof was added and partition walls installed to create rooms with specific environments.

But the design remained sympathetic to its original use. Doors and windows were either replaced with metal panels, roller shutters, or were filled in using a contrasting brick.

Collections are moved to these reserve stores for a number of reasons.

The sheer volume of objects in English Heritage's care means it is impossible to have all of them on display. Some sites are ruins, with no space to securely display objects. The space to research collections on site is also sometimes problematic. Having a dedicated regional store allows reserve collections to be researched and understood with greater ease.

The environment is closely monitored. Relative humidity and temperature are tracked, logged and reported to ensure the objects are stored in the best possible condition.

IPM, or integrated pest management is also a key feature of conservation care in the stores.

Bug traps are set over the store to monitor what insects could be there. These traps are set on a monthly basis and reviewed carefully.

Insect and bug damage in stores could prove extremely harmful to the objects, particularly if they go undetected.

Star Objects
Prehistory

In the Neolithic period the most dynamic change happened both socially and technologically.

In around 4100 BC early settlers began farming. The transition from migratory people to settlers was gradual, but we can see the change through the production of tools, such as this reproduction flint axe.

The prehistory collection at Wrest Park helps to explain and preserve this history.

This flint core (a nodule of flint) shows us how the flint was worked.

The strikes and grooves in this object can tell us what was made from this core.

Post-excavation research into these stored collections helps enrich our understanding of the Neolithic period.

Star Objects
Roman

A third of the collections at Wrest Park Stores is a vast collection of objects from the Roman settlement of Wroxeter.

This is due to the number of excavations that have been carried out since 1859.

The many hundreds of pallets of historic objects offer an invaluable insight into life at Wroxeter Roman City.

Objects such as this Venus help us to understand everyday Roman life.

Venus was the goddess of fertility, beauty and love. The earliest known temple to Venus was founded in Rome in 295 BC.

Other objects, such as this coprolite (fossilised faeces), allow us to analyse what these people ate and the relative health of the people living there.

Star Objects
Medieval to post-medieval

Other than Wroxeter Roman City, the largest individual collections are for the many important monastic sites in English Heritage’s care. The post-medieval architectural collections comprise many large objects and these occupy a considerable amount of space in the store.

These collections allow researchers to unlock a huge number of stories, as a lot of them can be linked to primary sources.

For instance, these goblet stems contain clues about their origin.

This goblet stem is in the form of a moulded lion’s head.

It was excavated from Jewel Tower moat, which is known to have been filled in in the 17th century.

As the date and location could be broadly determined, it meant the moulded goblet stem could be traced to one of four makers in the area.

There are stories throughout the store, just waiting to be uncovered by future researchers.

Wrest Park store opens its doors to the public, offering a glimpse of thousands of objects not usually on display.

Come and visit us and see if you can discover these treasures for yourself.

Credits: Story

Contributors
Charlotte Newman, Jan Summerfield, Cameron Moffett, Rose Arkle

Visit Wrest Park Stores

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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