Derbyshire, A Place for Poetry and Politics

Buxton Museum and Art Gallery

This week’s blog has been written by Lorna Ormiston, a history undergraduate from Sheffield University who specialises in the 17th and 18th century.

During my four week placement at Buxton Museum, I had the opportunity to handle both Thomas Hobbes’ and Charles Cotton’s poems on the “wonders” surrounding Derbyshire.

hobbes coverThomas Hobbes’ poem De mirabilibus pecci, which was first published in Latin in 1636 and then published later in English, is a celebration of what Hobbes referred to as the seven wonders of Derbyshire.[i] These wonders included: Chatsworth House, Tideswell’s Ebbing and Flowing Stream, Mam Tor, Peak Cavern, Poole’s Cavern, St Ann’s Well in Buxton and Eldon Hole in Peak Forest.[ii]  Whilst, photographing the topographical poem for the museum’s historical records, it was clear that Hobbes’ recognition of Derbyshire was in part motivated by Hobbes wanting to bolster his reputation. Unbeknownst to Hobbes, Hobbes later becomes well-known for…

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Time for a bit of Spring Cleaning

Buxton Museum and Art Gallery

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With the reopening of Buxton Museum and Art Gallery close on the horizon, the time has come to dust the cobwebs off the collection so that it can match the rest of the new shiny gallery.


I have been working closely with the museum’s bone material. In the picture above you can see that some of the pieces – like this hyena jaw bone discovered in Elderbush cave – were in definite need of a little TLC after being displayed for so many years in the old gallery. So, adorned with a set of brushes and little pieces of rubber sponge I began the task of patiently dabbing, wiping and brushing away the years to breathe new life into each of the bone objects.


Below you can see the after shot of my work, and evidently
a little bit of spring cleaning really does make all the difference!


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Jasmine Barnfather…

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“Melt”

We recently ran a prehistoric bronze casting workshop with Creeping Toad – who has captured the moment in his poem, ‘Melt’.

Don’t splash,
Don’t spill,
Contain the excitement as the crucible lifts,
A magma pool in a mug.
Glowing,
Glowing,
I understand Incandescence now.

Shaped in sand and oil,
Pressed and hammered,
Malleted into form
And bound,
A dungeon for a trickle of dragon blood,
Or maybe a chalice to receive the waters of the sun.

It’s over in a moment.
A long, slow pulsing burn,
Sighing bellows,
Well-worked muscles.
A long, slow melt,
A long, slow gathering of hope,
Determination.
The fierce intention of ceremony in this.
Concentration,
Concentrated consideration.
Watch,
Wait.
Listen to the hot breathing of leather lungs.

Charcoal glows,
Building heat upon heat,
It must build, it must grow,
The heat must hold
To incubate an infant sun.
We know what we are doing,
Well taught.
The promise held and guided.
We are told, informed,
Photographed.
Sensible 21st century people, us,
And we can feel the wonder,
Sense the enchantment,
The sheer excitement of metal melting.

We pour our molten bronze
A brief libation to Vulcan, to Hephaestus
To the Dwarves who shaped the Brisingamen
To Goibniu in the Hollow Hills
To Wayland in his Smithy
No wonder blacksmiths became special people.

And in seconds,
We’ve poured.
Fire drawn into metal.
We’ve cracked the mould.
We’ve cooled the bronze,
And in seconds,
It lies.
Treasure and glory and wonder,
In our hands.

Read more and see pictures from the day at Creeping Toad’s blog below:

http://creepingtoad.blogspot.co.uk/2017/03/shaping-bronze.html

 

Fin Cop Hillfort Derbyshire, Scene of an Iron Age Massacre

Fin Cop Hillfort Derbyshire, Scene of an Iron Age Massacre

What inspiration did the project artists find at Fin Cop?

Kidology - Artists in the Landscape

Our artists residency at Buxton museum has led us to some beautiful places out in the Derbyshire landscape but Fin Cop hill fort in Mensal Dale, Derbyshire, holds a special place in our hearts.

On a very misty morning last Friday we, together with ceramicist Caroline Chouler-Tissier and storyteller Gordon Maclellan were lucky enough to be able to walk along the ramparts with the Project Manager of the recent hill fort excavations and local historian, Ann Hall.

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We will all be making a piece of art work inspired by the hill fort which will be shown in the new museum galleries later this year.

On the hike to the top of the hill, which was beautiful yet challenging, we gained an insight into the historical importance of the site as a whole as Ann pointed out other possible barrow sites on the way up. We took the following picture on a previous…

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Artists in Residence explore the empty museum

Artists in Residence explore the empty museum

What have our Artists in Residence been up to? Find out below…

Kidology - Artists in the Landscape

Buxton Museum is closed at the moment for renovations but as Artists in Residence we have had the privilege of being allowed access to the museum at every stage of its’ exciting transformation. We thought you might enjoy these pictures of a composer and an artist at work in the empty museum last Summer, and this beautiful building pausing for breath  before the next phase of work began. Yes, we have the best job in the world!

The acoustic of the museum building once everything had been ripped out and the sunlight streaming through the windows was too tempting to resist so we did what we do best…

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You will be able to see the art and music that we have been working on during our residency when the museum re-opens in May.

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The Oldest Building in Buxton

What is the oldest building in Buxton? And where is it?

The Old Hall Hotel might spring to mind. Parts of the building date at least as far back as 1573. Others might suggest St Anne’s Church – an inscribed date on the porch reads ‘1625’, but other sections of the church are understood to be much older.

And what did the Romans do for us? We know they were drawn here by the natural hot and cold springs. Their baths, temple, fort and houses are buried beneath the foundations of contemporary Buxton.

But to find the site of the oldest building in Buxton we need to follow the River Wye south-west. Stroll through the Pavilion Gardens and along the Serpentine Walks to a patch of raised ground by a 20th century housing estate. Welcome to Lismore Fields.

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The entrance to the Serpentine Walks, 2016

The area around Lismore Fields, 2016

Lismore Fields, looking north, 2016

In the 1980s archaeologists excavated this site anticipating the presence of a Roman Road. Instead they discovered evidence for some of the oldest structures in Derbyshire.

Three buildings were discovered dating from around 6,000 years ago, during the Early Neolithic, but it isn’t known if they were used at exactly the same time. The buildings were rectangular and supported by posts. We can’t be sure what they looked like but it’s likely they had walls of mud plaster and heather-thatched roofs.

The people who lived here at that time were some of the earliest farmers in Derbyshire. Analysis of pottery found at the site suggested various contents including milk, animal fats and vegetable matter – the diet of those raising domesticated plants and animals.

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The Neolithic farmers of Lismore Fields can claim the title of ‘Oldest Building in Buxton’. But the site also produced stone tools and debris associated  dated to the Mesolithic, or ‘Middle Stone Age’, a time before farming was practiced in Britain. These highly mobile people lit fires and backfilled their rubbish into pits at their camp, but there’s no hard evidence of any built structures. The ‘Oldest Campsite in Buxton’ perhaps?