Project Highlight: Brecknock Museum relocation
We recently took part in a very exciting project run by Powys County Council for Brecknock Museum.
Brecknock museum, which is a Grade II* listed building , has been undergoing an extension and renovations for the last three years, but as the project is nearing completion the exhibits are starting to come out of storage and moved into the new and improved space. The building was constructed in 1842 as the County Shire Hall and Assize Court and continued in that function until its closure in 1971. In 1974 it was converted into the museum it is today and is considered one of Wales’ most significant architecture structures. It closed for the Heritage Lottery funded restoration in 2011 and is due to welcome its first visitors in 2019. The museum is being co-llocated with the Town Library through the addition of a new adjacent building, with multi-function spaces, including meeting and event rooms as well as areas dedicated to poetry, music, reading, art and learning.
We were very fortunate to be involved in this project from the beginning and helped the museum pack and move their artefacts into storage, using our specialist, heritage sector methods. All our museum cases for example are custom built for the item they will house, out of treated wood, to ensure that the exhibits are expertly protected while in heritage storage.
The most notable aspect of the Brecknock Museum move was the installation of three Early Christian monuments, (ECMs) which required specialist handling due to their size and age. These ancient stone pillars date from the 5th and 6th centuries and are marked with inscriptions offering insight into the distant past. They are particularly interesting for their significance for early Welsh social history and teach us about the development of languages in Wales. Only some of these are explicitly Christian but it’s likely that most of them were erected within Christian communities to commemorate the dead.
Some memorials include Ogham inscriptions, a form of writing devised in Ireland and brought into west Wales by Irish settlers in the 3rd and 4th centuries. Other stones use Latin inscriptions, similar to those used in Gaul, showing the links between Wales and the Roman Empire.
Another one of the stones we transported combines Ogham and Latin inscriptions and commemorates a man called Turpillius. The Ogham inscription runs vertically up the front left edge of the slab while the Latin runs downwards on the right. This suggests that the two languages had equal status within the communities who used them. Interestingly, the Ogham alphabet lacked a symbol for P, so the writer had to use an X-shaped Ogham symbol to simulate the name.
Senior Curator Nigel Blackamore said of the project: “Specialist removals experts combined with the museum’s own skilled staff worked to ensure the monuments were transferred carefully into position in the new gallery. They will be prominently displayed and will sit within the Kingdom of Brycheiniog exhibition. We’re delighted that such important local objects will continue to play a significant role in explaining the history of Brecknock within Y Gaer.”
To find out more about the expert methods we used to complete this very special project, read our case study.