Saturday, 6 July 2013

Dales Countryside Museum

On my way through Hawes (a few miles away from Hardraw where I had been camping) a couple of weeks ago, I went to the Dales Countryside Museum. Situated in the old Hawes railway station, it consists of a small historical exhibition and a area covering social history (the mainstay of most small museums - old industrial, farm and domestic implements - displayed here better than many museums I've seen). Also, there's a small art gallery and a sculpture trail outside - all in all, not bad for £4 (and a little for parking).

This is one of two Roman milestones. This one is from the Stainmore Gap on a road which crosses the Pennines above Swaledale. It has the names of the Emperors Probius and Florian on it from around AD 276. During his short reign Florian's main problem seemed to have been Probius from what I can see and Probius had problems with Vandals, but the road across the Pennines seemed to carry on regardless of who the boss was, as there's another milestone from the same road which is marked with the name of the next Emperor, Carus (who came to power after Probius's troops changed sides and assasinated him). Carus only lasted a year in the top job, though there is some suggestion he may have suffered a natural(ish) death.

Somebody buried this little pile of coins sometime round about 170 AD in Swaledale. That would be around 100 years before there was a milepost to tell them the way back to find it. This is about a third of the annual wage of a Roman soldier at the time, so no small loss for somebody.

Some Neolithic stone axes from Wensleydale. That's around 5000BC to 2500BC.

A late bronze age spear head. The bronze age ran from 2500BC to 600BC. I'm always impressed by some of the fine craftsmanship there was in this country centuries before the Romans even thought about coming here.

The little shard of stone you see to the top left of the spear head has been identified as a late Palaeolithic or early Mesolithic blade. It's quite fascinating to think that the person who made and used this lived 10000 years ago.

This 9th or 10th century viking, gold ring was found in this great condition by somebody digging a ditch in Sedbergh

Outside the museum the platform of the station still remains. The museum continued inside the railway carriages.

This is a picture of the last scheduled passenger train to leave the station in 1959, although one final train was organised in 1964 before they removed the lines.

It doesn't look like it's going anywhere fast now. Although painted to look like the last train from the station with its engine number, this is actually Loco No12 built by Robert Stevenson and Hawthorn Company and was a shunt engine used by the Central Electricity Generating Board at their Hams Hall power Station in the West Midlands until about 1970.

Here we are at the Sculpture trail with a glass panel by Ewa Gorska.

My photo here doesn't really do justice to Anna Whitehouse's Wensleydale Vessel. What you can't see is that where there looks like there is water flowing from the hole, it continues as a stream of words down the post and along the wood on the ground.


This Oak Seat by Tom Handley is just asking to be sat in.

An otter.

A herd of deer.

Aurochs (plural in the title but I can see only one) was carved by Jennifer Tetlow. I noticed on here website that she does greetings cards - I thought that it would be a really great thing, a sculptor who would carve you a birthday card (we'll worry about the postage later) but no, the cards, though attractive, are from drawings she's made - darn!

Here's a small number of things from the social history section. Being in Wensleydale, you would expect some cheese making objects (cheese Gromit). This cheese press makes use of a fairly hefty old Boulder.

A reconstruction of a Lead mine.

This piece of apparatus was used for putting the iron tyre on a cartwheel. It's an interesting process. The wooden wheel is made without the aid of screws or nails and an iron rim is made just a little smaller than the wheel. The rim is then heated up in a fire till it expands to a size bigger than the wheel, it is then hammered over the wheel and cooled quickly, where upon it shrinks round the wheel and holds it all together. There were some photographs of somebody doing it on display but I found a wee video on Youtube which makes it clearer.

Just across the car park from the museum are the buildings of Outhwaite's Ropemakers. They have their factory open to the public and encourage you to go in, no doubt in the hope that you would buy some rope. Rope is low on my shopping list just now but I went in anyway. 

Somewhere in the mechanism is the magic that weaves the various strands into multicoloured rope.

I'll bet you've had many a sleepless night wondering who makes the furry bit at the bottom of a bell rope. Now you can sleep easier, it's this lot.

I think I had become slightly hypnotised by this machine. The orange bobbins were going round at a pretty mighty speed in a patten I was unable to work out. Here's a short film about rope making that features some very similar machines.

Now I'm not one to try and stereotype anybody (well not much anyway) but when they do it themselves, it seems fair game. They had a couple of flat caps at the Dales museum, suggesting that you try them on to see how good a Yorkshire man you make. Well here's me, one hand taking the picture, the other in my pocket looking after me brass!!!


Sinbad and I on the Loose said...

Fascinating stuff. I'd be mesmerized watching the rope machine too, and like the wheel making method. I think I could make a deer. The cap looks good on you but being a Scotsman I know you didn't turn loose of any your coin to purchase it.

Shundo said...

I think the flat cap suits you, Sandy. You can only imagine how cold and misreable the Roman soldiers who got posted to the north of England must have been, and I don't suppose they really cared who the Emperor was - except the guy who had to get the right name on the milestone.

Sandy's witterings said...

John, The cap was only on the head for a short time (for free).
I don't really think I'd need to by a "how to make deer" book either.

Shundo - I've had a terrible thought that the carving of mile stones and the lost Roman loot are connected. I hope the person who didn't collect it hadn't mispelt an emperor (I know Julie Caesar was a bit touchy about it for one)

s.c said...

Great blog you have here with lots of interesting stuff. Funny the flesh with the strawberries, unusual but effective. Yes Andy Murray get a terrible load on his shoulders. Thanks for showing.

Sandy's witterings said...

Thanks S.C. I think strawberry and sausages could well be fine. Andy's shoulders will feel a lot lighter now.

The Glebe Blog said...

You'd make a good Yorkie Sandy.
We visited the Hawes museum back in the early 80's. Looks to be much more to it nowadays. One of our walkers from the South Rhins is well up in the weaving world and she often ends up in Hawes where weaving is still very much on the agenda.

Sandy's witterings said...

It's all those years of watch All Creatures Great and Small Jim, it's installed some Yorkshire traits in a generation.
There was a little weaving stuff in the museum - I mostly know it because years ago I went to the Wensleydale cheese factory.