ELHAS Meeting Report - February 2014

Meeting Report February 2014

This month 49 members and guests welcomed Lucy Moore from Leeds Museums and Galleries, Project curator for the First World War, to deliver a talk on the archaeological treasures of Leeds Museums. Lucy was formerly archaeology curator for the museums, but has recently taken up the new post relating to WW1. She has been working in Leeds for about a year and before that was at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford where she looked after the numismatic collection.

Lucy began her talk by showing us photographs of some objects she regards as 'treasures' even though they may not qualify as such according to the Oxford Dictionary definition of the word. The first of these was the Pyke pedestal Organ Clock at Temple Newsam which she told us played music by Handel. Another of her favourites was the astronomer's chair from Lotherton Hall. She described how the city has some 20,000 artefacts stored at Leeds Discovery Centre as well as all the objects on show in all the Leeds museums. Although these objects are in storage, she explained that they are still used for research and learning purposes. Moving on to items on display, she surprised us by describing Kirkstall Abbey as the largest object in the collection. This was perhaps not the way we would have looked at the Abbey, although I am sure most Leeds people realise how lucky we are to have such a magnificent example of 12th century architecture on our doorstep.

She then showed another Leeds favourite, the tomb of Nesyamun, and told how it survived the bombing of Leeds Museum in 1941 because it was away from the museum at the time undergoing restoration. What good fortune. This prompted a member of the audience to recall how, after the bombing he saw small boys attempting to acquire souvenirs from the wreckage. Perhaps not Leeds' finest hour. Probably one of the most exciting photos was the West Yorkshire Hoard, a collection of gold jewellery found by a metal detector just outside Leeds in 2008/2009. This jewellery has been described by the British Museum as some of the finest examples of Anglo Saxon work in the country. Lucy explained that there was something of a mystery surrounding the hoard since the dates of the objects spanned some 400 years, from the 7th to the 11th centuries, but they were all found together.

Lucy ended her talk by showing examples of the coin collection, including examples of some found at Kirkstall Abbey, which as well as English coins had 15th century jettons from the continent. We thoroughly enjoyed viewing the photos Lucy showed and hearing her detailed and interesting descriptions of them. But what we most enjoyed was her infectious enthusiasm for the subject which left us inspired to revisit the Leeds Museums and look more closely at the objects Leeds is fortunate enough to have in its collection.

The next meeting on Monday 31st March 2014 will be an illustrated talk by Jenny Stacey entitled "A Sniff of Snuff." A history of snuff taking.