The Teaching Museum

Norfolk Museums Service Traineeship

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Norwich Castle Museum: a snooper’s paradise!

Each week we take a look at what’s been going on with Norfolk’s Teaching Museum Trainees.  Today we see Dan, trainee within the Archaeology Department at Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery.

Spring has turned into summer in the blink of an eye for this trainee! Starting a new job and embarking on the teaching museum training programme has certainly kept all of us trainees very busy. It’s great to see all of us steadily developing as museum professionals on the scheme. Here’s my personal insight into the programme so far from the Archaeology Department…

Atop Norwich Castle battlements with Meg, Morgan and Sue.

I must say I’ve had a highly interesting and rewarding time to date – long may it continue! I am very privileged to be here. My colleagues have been incredibly welcoming and supportive and the department is bustling with activity, welcoming students, volunteers, academics and members of the public to view and catalogue all sorts of amazing things from socketed Bronze Age axe heads to animal and human remains.

I have been fortunate enough to already involve myself in a number of diverse projects and activities, including:

  • arranging the touring display of the Rudham Dirk, a ceremonial Bronze Age dagger, around regional museums
  • writing a funding application for the acquisition of gold coins of the Iceni, a Celtic tribe perhaps best known for their warrior queen Boadicea
  • attending the Dying Matters event with Anglo-Saxon grave goods at The Forum in Norwich alongside fellow teaching museum trainees
  • familiarising myself with and contributing to the proposed Norwich Castle keep redevelopment and redisplay project

Gold ‘Norfolk Wolf’ coin of the Iceni.

Dying Matters with fellow trainees, and a Stormtrooper!?







The latter is a truly exciting project and again, I am thrilled to be involved in such an important undertaking which will have a lasting impact on the future of the museum. Part of my work has seen me helping research, document and catalogue papers and relating to the Victorian conversion of Norwich Castle from a prison to a museum by the notable local architect Edward Boardman & Son in the 1890s. Recently, I accompanied a photographer around the building to document the Boardman architecture, fixtures and fittings, including about an hour spent in a ladies toilet – prior to opening I must add!

Photographer snapping an old window shutter in Norwich Castle Museum.

I’ve had opportunities to snoop around other areas of the museum not normally accessible. Being a nosey sort, I love museum stores, nooks and crannies, and the dark places where arachnids and other creepy crawlies dwell. I’ve been fortunate enough to be guided around the Fighting Gallery of the castle keep and see ancient graffiti up close, which is gradually being documented by my manager Dr Tim Pestell. There is certainly plenty more to be discovered throughout the museum which I’m keen to see over the coming months.

A bit of fun with a replica helmet from the Learning Department’s handling collection.

Before I go, I should mention the training which has really exceeded expectations. Trips to the Norfolk Record Office and attending courses meant to give us trainees a broader understanding of museums have been particular highlights. I’m excited by the other valuable skills and experiences we’ll acquire and encounter. I’m convinced that this is without doubt the best thing for me in my early career in the museum sector.