Wonderful Roman treasures photographed from the private collections of Godmanchester people, and films about Roman Godmanchester will be shown for the first time by the Porch Museum next year, celebrating the town’s history as part of its programme for the 800th anniversary of Godmanchester’s Charter . Roman Godmanchester was a thriving military and market town. Now you can see, for the first time a wealth of Roman artefacts left for us by soldiers and civilians two thousand years ago.
There will be rare enamelled jewellery, luxury Samian ware imported from France and Germany and dishes, pitchers and drinking cups, some manufactured in Godmanchester’s own kilns. Particularly lovely are the Venus figurines and a horse which symbolises the horse god Epona, placed in a little girl’s burial to protect her on the journey to the after life. Godmanchester gardeners will be charmed by the little bronze horse’s head probably used to decorate Roman hanging baskets.
Five distinguished archaeologists are donating their precious time to verifying the objects for a catalogue, and through the artefacts, will explaining on film about Roman Godmanchester’s daily life.
Managed by the museum’s Roman Godmanchester Film Project,plans include at least three films about Roman life, including the Roman legionnaires’ favourite foods - sausages, bacon and meat pies. Burial customs will be discussed. At least one hundred and sixty burials have been excavated here. More may lie undiscovered perhaps in our back gardens. Also covered will be Roman dress, furniture, religion and building.
This project is launched under the curatorship of David Stokes, Chairman of the QE School Friends’ Committee. The backbone is being overseen by two distinguished Peterborough based archaeologists, Time Team broadcaster, Professor Stephen Upex and international Samian ware expert Geoffrey Dannell. Alison Taylor, one time Cambridge County Archaeologist provides a history of Roman Godmanchester for the films and, Michael Green, who excavated Godmanchester’s major Roman buildings will show us the town’s most valuable find, the jewellery hoard, now lodged in Cambridge. From the Norris Museum in St Ives, curator Bob Burn- Murdoch provides practical advice and has allowed Godmanchester finds in his collection, many unseen, to be photographed.
Our kind collectors include Edward Thackray, Mrs. Rachel Thurley, Godmanchester Freeman, Mr. Gerald Reeve, Stanley and Stephen George, Ralph Clark and coin expert Richard Ashford. Others remain anonymous.
David Stokes founded the Porch Museum in the 1980s with the late John Hadley, .He says, “When John Hadley and I started the Porch Museum we wanted somewhere to display Godmanchester’s Roman finds. Today the Porch Museum has a good variety of other fascinating local history exhibits.
“I must thank Professor Stephen Upex and Geoffrey Dannell for their expertise and the many days they have given to us. I hope that the catalogue of finds will provide a brilliant service and resource to the community and indeed for all those who are interested in Roman artefacts and particularly the sort of finds you would expect in a small Roman town. It is perhaps fitting that the project leader is John’s daughter Kate, working alongside Tiffany Kirby, Mike Brown, Shirley Walsh and Stephen Bengree”
If you have any Roman artefacts that were discovered in Godmanchester, and would like to help, please contact Kate Hadley on 01480 454154.
The first showing of one of these Roman films entitled “Roman Treasures of Godmanchester” will be shown at the Porch Museums Spring Fund Raising Party on Saturday 14th April 2012, this will also include a talk by one of the county’s leading archaeologists. Full details of this event will be announced in January 2012.
The St Ann’s Lane School project proved to be a great success with our visitors identifying many of the children and teachers from the1950’s. The Porch Museum would like to thank all those that helped with this project during the summer and especially those that allowed us to copy their school photographs for the museums collection. Next year we will be building on this year’s success by displaying these new images (now going back to 1920) and hope that more Godmanchester people and those that attended the school will come to the museum and help us to identify more children and their teachers. These are invaluable images from our immediate past history so if you were a pupil at St Ann’s Lane School please come a long we would love to see you.
On Saturday 6th October 2012 there will be an “Evening at the Museum” with a new film release and talk. Full details to be announced in January 2012.