Museum news: Stonehenge on screen and seven sites added to the UK’s Tentative List

The latest on exhibitions, acquisitions, and key decisions.

Future World Heritage sites?

Seven sites from across the UK and the British Overseas Territories have received Government backing for their efforts to achieve UNESCO World Heritage status.

The sites have been added to the Government’s Tentative List, which is published around every ten years, setting out places that are deemed to have the best chance of success – the Government will now work with local authorities and devolved administrations to develop their bids.

New Cultural contenders include Birkenhead Park on Merseyside; York’s historic city centre; and the Zenith of Iron Age Shetland. The East Atlantic Flyway – England East Coast Wetlands and Little Cayman Marine Parks and Protected Areas are in the running for the Natural category. Two sites that submitted full nominations to UNESCO earlier this year remain on the Tentative List. One is Natural (the Flow Country, a large area of peatland in the north of Scotland) and the other Cultural (the Gracehill Moravian Church Settlement in Northern Ireland, part of a joint bid alongside other internationally significant Moravian religious sites in Denmark, the United States, and Germany).

Successful bids will join the 33 existing UK and Overseas Territories Cultural and Natural World Heritage Sites (see CA 379).

Stonehenge on screen

IMAGE: Stonehenge Drilling Operation, 20 August 1958, Robert H Phillips

Newly rediscovered film footage from the 1950s documents the drilling of a ‘core’ sample from a Stonehenge sarsen that recently proved invaluable to research into the origins of the famous stones.

Shot on a handheld camera using standard 8mm film, the silent footage was taken in 1958 by engineer Robert Phillips. It shows his colleagues drilling into one of the largest sarsens to recover three slender cylinders of stone, during an initiative to conserve aspects of the monument. Although two of these cores remain missing, the third (which had been given to Phillips) was returned to the site in 2019 (CA 352), enabling Professor David Nash of the University of Brighton to analyse its geology and pin down a probable quarrying site for the Stonehenge sarsens (CA 367).

The films were rediscovered last year in Phillips’ Florida home by one of his sons, and are now housed in the University of Brighton’s Screen Archive South East (https://screenarchive.brighton.ac.uk).

Fundraising for the ‘near Pulborough’ torc

The Sussex Archaeological Society has launched a fundraising appeal to help acquire an Iron Age gold torc for the Barbican House Museum in Lewes.

Image: Sussex Archaeological Society

Found by a metal-detectorist near Pulborough, West Sussex, in 2019, the torc is made from a hollow tube of gold sheet, to which decorative gold wire has been soldered. Owing to unique aspects of its design, and the fact that it appears to pre-date the majority of other torcs previously recorded in Britain, the artefact is deemed to be of local, regional, and national significance. It was officially declared Treasure late last year and valued at £16,000. Following successful grant applications for most of this sum, the SAS needs to raise a final £2,200 to acquire the artefact so that it can be displayed near where it was found.

For more information, please contact SAS Museums Officer Emma O’Connor at emmaoconnor@sussexpast.co.uk or see www.crowdfunder.co.uk/p/sussex-torc.

New exhibitions

A Tale of Manchester Life – Elizabeth Gaskell’s Manchester

Elizabeth Gaskell’s House, Manchester
Until 2 April 2024

Return of the Gods

World Museum, Liverpool
Until 25 February 2024

Luxury and Power: Persia to Greece

British Museum, London
Until 13 August 2023

Behind the Wire: internment during the First World War – the global German experience

German Historical Institute, London
Until 30 June 2023

An Tilleadh (The Return)

Comunn Eachdraidh Nis, North Dell, Isle of Lewis
Until April 2024

Swansea Canal 225

National Waterfront Museum, Swansea
Until 17 September 2023