Salisbury’s exact connection to Stonehenge and the story of Bronze Age Britain will be told in spectacular style at a new gallery set to open next year
The remains of the Amesbury Archer, the Bronze Age man whose arrow-littered grave held the largest
collection of artefacts ever found in a burial from the era, will form the skeletal centre of a much-anticipated new gallery full of Stonehenge stories at Salisbury Museum.
A gneiss mace-head, found by Colonel William Hawley in 1924, and an axe and dagger which were found to match the carvings on stone 53 when they were discovered in 1953, will appear in the Wessex Gallery of Archaeology.
The £2 million space will knock through and combine the astonishing Pitt Rivers Archaeological Collection and the Early Man gallery.
Nottingham-based architects Metaphor will emphasise the theme of discovery in their design, with building beginning this week. Curators say the corridors will explain precisely why the Wiltshire town and its World Heritage Sites play a crucial part in the history of Britain, using timber flooring and glass-reinforced concrete to recreate the feel of the terrain through the centuries.
“By Christmas this year the major construction work will be complete,” revealed museum director Adrian Green, pronouncing himself “absolutely overjoyed” to be creating a “world class gallery of archaeology”.
“We are developing an integrated approach to the interpretation of Stonehenge.
“It means that the Salisbury Museum will be able to create exhibitions directly relating to new displays in the Stonehenge Visitor Centre.
“If you like, we will all be part of the same extended conversation.
“Metaphor have a very impressive CV. Their recent work includes the Holburne Museum in Bath and the Ashmolean, Oxford, in addition to smaller projects such as the refurbishment of the Museum of the Order of St John in Clerkenwell.”
Despite being Grade I-listed and facing Salisbury Cathedral, Green says the museum’s finds from Northern Europe have long been a “best-kept secret”, and expects the museum to “step out of the shadows” when the gallery opens next summer. Antler picks, animal bones, flint and stone tools, chalk plaques and pottery all feature.
The museum has already lent around 250 objects to the visitor centre at Stonehenge.
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If you are visiting Salisbury organise a private guided tour of Wessex with a local expert: http://stonehengetravel.co.uk
The Stonehenge Travel Company, Salisbury, England
Guided Tours of Stonehenge and Salisbury