CSI: Westminster - artefacts taken to parliament
A unique conservation project has been helping MPs discover
first hand the secrets of Kent’s Anglo-Saxon past. Hayley Robinson found out
A week-long exhibition at the House of Commons has
demonstrated work to preserve artefacts excavated from The Meads
Equipment used by conservation group CSI: Sittingbourne, to
examine and conserve the items, were on display.
Politicians were also given the opportunity to squint down
microscopes, identify rare objects and scrape away layers of clay
from a selection of metal, wood and cloth artefacts unearthed in
2008 from the cemetery in north Kent.
They were helped in their task by professional conservators from
the group who have spent the last three years working alongside
local volunteers to preserve hundreds of rare finds in a redundant
unit at The Forum shopping centre.
Dana Goodburn-Brown, who leads the team, said: “The exhibition
proved very popular with everyone who visited.
“They certainly kept us busy answering questions about our
scientific techniques and discoveries, and explaining the history
behind the artefacts.”
Culture Secretary Maria Miller said: “I think it’s fantastic to
see the work that Dana’s done in taking the history of
Sittingbourne right into the community and giving people the
opportunity to find out for themselves more about such an important
part of the community’s past.
“Her enthusiasm is infectious and bringing this exhibition into
the House of Commons has just shown a great many more MPs how you
can really get your community working on important historical
projects like this.”
The event, held in the Upper Waiting Hall, was hosted by
Sittingbourne MP Gordon Henderson, who had to jump through several
administrative hoops before the exhibition was given the
He said: “The House authorities are very careful about whom they
allow in and the type of exhibition.
“There are only a couple of dozen a year and you start the
process by entering a ballot, so straight away you’ve got the luck
of the draw.
“But I think that when they saw that it was
archaeologically-based, they thought that this was a golden
opportunity to have something different here.”
It is hoped the event will help raise awareness of the group’s
work and attract future funding for the project.
- CSI: Sittingbourne is a partnership between Canterbury
Archaeological Trust and Sittingbourne Heritage Museum;
- Around 2,500 artefacts were uncovered by the Canterbury
Archeological Trust at The Meads site in Sittingbourne before
building work started there;
- The laboratory was set up at The Forum shopping centre, High
Street, Sittingbourne, in 2009 so the treasures found inside
Anglo-Saxon graves could be conserved in the public eye;
- A team of volunteers carry out the conservation work but the
future of the project relies on sufficient funding being
- Shoppers can usually visit the project three days a week, on
Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays;
- It is believed to be the only shopping-centre based
conservation project in the country.
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