Museum news: Iron Age shield and Declaration of Arbroath go on show

The latest on exhibitions, acquisitions, and key decisions.

Museum on the move

A Mesolithic flint tranchet adze has become the first of around 10,000 artefacts to be removed from display at the Museum of London, following the closure of its London Wall site in December 2022 and ahead of its move to a new home in West Smithfield (see CA 391).

IMAGE: Museum of London

The process of de-installation began in January, and is expected to take two years, during which the museum will barcode, audit, digitise, and pack objects ranging from tiny glass fragments to the 2012 Olympic Cauldron and a lift from Selfridges. Operating under a new name, the London Museum will open in 2026; see https://museum.london. The Museum of London Docklands remains open as usual.

Iron Age shield on show

An Iron Age shield recovered from a chariot burial in Pocklington, East Riding of Yorkshire, is on display at Malton Museum this month.

Dating back c.2,400 years, the bronze alloy shield had been placed face down on the chariot, and the body of an older man had been laid on top of it in a crouched position.

During the temporary exhibition, which runs until 29 April, Malton Museum will have extended opening hours: 10.30am-3.30pm Tuesday to Saturday. See www.maltonmuseum.co.uk/iron-age-shield-exhibition for further details, CA 327 for more about the discovery, and CA 363 to read about Yorkshire’s chariot burials.

Coventry’s newest heritage attraction

Coventry’s Grade I-listed Charterhouse has opened to visitors for the first time, following more than a decade of fundraising and restoration work by Historic Coventry Trust, and a £10 million refurbishment.

Founded by Richard II in 1385 as a Carthusian monastery, the building has had many roles over the centuries, including as a garden growing exotic plants and a private house owned by Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. It was bequeathed to the people of Coventry as a museum and park by its last resident, Colonel William Wyley, in 1940, though until 2011 it was part of Coventry College. Historic Coventry Trust was formed to acquire it with the aim of delivering Colonel Wyley’s vision.

Now visitors can see three conserved wall paintings of national importance, a revitalised garden, and a new café/bar run by Michelin-star chef Glynn Purnell. See www.historiccoventrytrust.org.uk/visit/charterhouse for more information.

Declaration of Arbroath on display

The 700-year-old Declaration of Arbroath is to go on display for the first time in 18 years, at the National Museum of Scotland.

IMAGE: Mike Brooks © Queen’s Printer for Scotland, National Records of Scotland, SP13-7

Written in 1320 during the Wars of Independence with England, the Declaration is a letter from the barons and freeholders of Scotland, asking Pope John XXII to acknowledge Robert the Bruce as the country’s rightful king, and to persuade Edward II of England to end hostilities. Although the Pope had excommunicated Robert I, he was known to desire peace between England and Scotland so that both could participate in a crusade – and, sure enough, after receiving the Declaration, he urged reconciliation. A truce was agreed in 1323, followed by a peace treaty in 1328 and a papal bull in 1329 permitting the crowning of a King of Scots – but just three years later the Second War of Independence broke out, and would continue for 25 years.

To ensure its survival, the fragile document can only be displayed occasionally, and this summer’s showing has been organised in partnership by its joint custodians National Museums Scotland and National Records of Scotland. The Declaration can be seen from 3 June to 2 July; see www.nms.ac.uk/declaration for details.

New exhibitions

Re-imagining Regina: past and present

Arbeia Roman Fort, South Shields
Until 30 September

To the Roar of the Crowd

Segedunum Roman Fort, Wallsend
8 April-29 October

Egyptian Hieroglyphs: unlock the mystery

Ferens Art Gallery, Hull
Until 18 June

Rendlesham Revealed: the heart of a kingdom AD 400-800

Sutton Hoo, Woodbridge
Until 29 October

Last chance to see

Gladiators: a cemetery of secrets

Corinium Museum, Cirencester
Until 23 April

Rediscovering the Antonine Wall 

Callendar House, Falkirk
Until 30 April