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Read, Watch and Listen

A ceramic jug that dates from the Romano-British period

This ceramic jug dates from the Romano-British period, and is made from a fine grained black burnished ware known as Upchurch ware. The writing on the object, copied from earlier markings and labels, records the provenance of the object as Uriconium – the Roman name for Wroxeter. Together with a contemporary label, it also records a detailed sequence of acquisition – its discovery in 1866 by ‘Mr Stannier who farmed the land’, its sale to a dealer in Shrewsbury named Mr Last, and Pitt-Rivers’ purchase of the object from Last in 1870 (Pitt Rivers Museum Accession Number 1884.37.31).​

Prehistoric flint knife

This prehistoric flint knife, with a curved edge and straight back, is probably Neolithic in date. Its recorded provenance, “Yorkshire”, is unspecific, but the faded number in black ink, ‘1337’, matches with a manuscript source dating from 1874 in which Pitt-Rivers recorded a “triangular flint knife or arrowhead” in his collection. Pitt-Rivers was a Yorkshireman by birth, and returned there throughout his life, so the object could have been acquired by him any time before 1874, in the first 47 years of his life (Pitt Rivers Museum Accession Number 1884.123.333).​

Neolithic stone scraper

Three curatorial hands inscribe this Neolithic stone scraper. Modern writing reads “YORKSHIRE WOLDS”, giving two museum catalogue numbers. The number ‘10’ and an illegible word are written in pencil. Their meaning is obscure, but the single faded word “GREENWELL” connects the scraper with a seminal moment in Victorian archaeology. Canon William Greenwell pioneered the excavation of prehistoric burial mounds in Yorkshire, and Pitt-Rivers spent time excavating with him in April 1867 –later reminiscing that he gained crucial early experience in digging from Greenwell. Acquired at some point by Pitt-Rivers from Greenwell, this scraper represents evidence not just of prehistoric Yorkshire, but also of a personal exchange between Victorian antiquaries (Pitt Rivers Museum Accession Number 1884.133.56).

Early Bronze Age copper alloy flat axe

This early Bronze Age copper alloy flat axe has a triangular panel of vertical 'rain pattern' decoration, over which the word ‘ENGLAND’ is written in white paint, along with the number ‘P.R. 1437’ above. The provenance is unspecific, but the numbers refer to an entry in the hand-written list made in 1874, just before the first public exhibition of Pitt-Rivers’ collection at Bethnal Green Museum: Bronze period 1437; 39 Bronze celts. The modern text offers a glimpse into one moment in the object’s life-history, when it was exhibited 140 years ago in East London (Pitt Rivers Museum Accession Number 1884.119.39).