Questions galore on ancient anchor
An ancient anchor found six feet underground during drain digging in the 1880s has inspired a new exhibition at Annan Museum.
The exhibition ‘Roman Invaders in the Solway’ takes a closer look at the mystery anchor which was discovered at Priestside near Annan and is rare evidence of early seafaring around the coastline of Dumfries and Galloway.
It is also a chance to see the amazing conservation work by Will Murray, of The Scottish Conservation Studio, which has ensured the Priestside Anchor will be preserved for decades.
Museum’s officer Fiona Wilson said: “Over the years experts have debated the anchor’s origins and for a long time it was assumed to be Roman and was displayed at Dumfries Museum.
“But recent studies have again questioned the anchor’s origins.
“The exhibition invites visitors to discover what is know about the anchor and to consider its true origins.”
Councillor Andy Ferguson, chairman of communities, said: “The archaeology collection of the Dumfries and Galloway Council Museum has recognition status which means that it is of national importance. The Priestside anchor has attracted the attention of international researchers.”
Last year, marine archaeologist Daniel Claggett set out to compare ancient anchors used in Northern Europe from AD 750–1300, after the time of Roman occupation in Scotland and during the time of Viking raids.
As part of his project he looked for anchors that had survived in museum collections so that he could study their shape, size and characteristics.
Although the Priestside anchor was listed as “Roman”, researchers have queried this and Daniel included it in his study in case it might be from the later Viking age.
Visitors to the exhibition will be able to look at Daniel’s findings and other work done to conserve the ancient iron anchor for the future.
The free exhibition – which runs until October 31 and can be viewed Monday to Saturday, 11am to 4pm – also features background information on the Romans at sea, Roman occupation of Scotland and the Iron Age people and technology they encountered.
Annan Museum is hosting a free talk, open to all, by Roman historian Dr John Reid and conservator Will Murray on Thursday, October 11, at 6.30pm.
They will present evidence of use of boats by the Romans around the coast of Scotland and the recent study that compared ancient anchors, placing the Priestside anchor in context. The talk will be followed by refreshments and an opportunity to view the exhibition.
On Thursday, October 18, master potter Graham Taylor will be offering children the opportunity to find out how the Romans used ceramic pots to store and transport all sorts of goods. Children can also make their own “Roman” pot to take home.
Booking is essential at 01461 201384. Marine archaeologist Daniel Claggett has been comparing ancient anchors used in Northern Europe from AD 750–1300
Steadying the ship An artist’s impression of how the Priestside Anchor would have worked in fishing on the Solway
Testing Will Murray of The Scottish Conservation Studio weaves his magic on the anchor that holds so much mystery
Looking the part Simon Lidwell re-enacts an Irn Age smith at Annan Museum
Fascinating... Museums assistant Joanne Turner with ancient anchor