Anglo-Saxon CSI: Sittingbourne

Exciting News!
March 31, 2014, 7:29 pm
Filed under: events

The CSI: Sittingbourne lab is holding a special exhibition, 10:00am – 4:00pm, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays for the first two weeks in April (1-11th) + Saturday April 5th. Visitors are welcome to come see conservation in action and talk to us about new discoveries on finds from Lyminge, the Sarre/Bifrons assemblage, (normally stored at Maidstone Museum), and The Meads, Sittingbourne Anglo-Saxon cemetery.

Where – The CSI lab, The Forum, High St. Sittingbourne, Kent ME10 3DL

This ‘open lab’ exhibition is in celebration of recent reassessment and conservation work done on the Kent Archaeological Society collection of Anglo-Saxon iron finds excavated at Sarre and Bifrons in the 1860s – X-radiography and microscopic analysis have revealed new details such as gold inlays and mineral preserved wood and textiles; also, mysterious past restoration and preservation techniques – ie. the mystery of the broken shears !! Visitors to the exhibition will have the chance to see work in progress on the Lyminge bone gaming piece and all the metalwork from the 2012 /2013 excavations at the Anglo-Saxon Hall house at Lyminge.

For more information about the Lyminge excavation and gaming piece, please see: and

For more information about the KAS Sarre/Bifrons collection, please see:

there’s more, almost forgot…
April 21, 2012, 4:23 pm
Filed under: Community, Home

… Ryan agreed his ‘volunteer job title’ : CSI Runner !  Ryan has been helping off and on since we first started fitting out the shop. This week he visited the library for us to see if they can locate Cloth and Clothing in Early Anglo-Saxon England, by Penelope Walton Rogers (out of print and very expensive on Amazon !).  Ryan also initiated discussions with the library about us having a display there. He is a good lad.

… Sittingbourne Library Manager visited us to discuss ordering Anglo-Saxon books and creating a reading shelf to go with our display.

… Susan brought in great hangers and displayed our fundraising T-shirts – she also offered to do readings at the library when we set up our CSI / library collaborations.

… West Dean student Scarlett emailed me a wonderful pg. reference from Theophilus, a 12th century artist who wrote about his crafts – polishing niello with ear-wax… wonderful !!!

Busy week. Speaking of West Dean, be sure to have a look at the West Dean College Conservation Blog which is being updated regularly by students from the college.

Highlights form this week’s visitors/activities
April 21, 2012, 2:00 pm
Filed under: Community, Home, Volunteer Experiences

…a woman who could neither read/write or tell left from right but delighted in seeing what we were doing and discussing lots of our displays and microscope work, because “one never knows what there is to discover !! ”

… a  teenager’s  community carer/enabler and his charge stumbled upon us and spent quite a while discussing our lady with a crystal ball and what is going on at CSI: Sittingbourne.

… a woman who didn’t like dark places but was lured in by our lino-print T-shirts in window, she wants to buy for her sons – and then enjoyed chatting to Janet about the object and X-ray at her microscope.

… an elderly couple were overheard discussing the intricate work we are doing at the microscope and things we are discovering, while reading our wall displays. Debbie then showed them our swords and they stayed awhile chatting to volunteers.

… newish volunteer Catherine got lots of experience talking about her work with a knife with a buckle x-ray and evidence for horn handle, surviving in an  iridescent stripped layer on the tang.

… Interesting discussion about knives with two young men who upon seeing ‘our lady with a crystal ball’s 2 knives commented on how “easy it was to go around stabbing people back then”…  Lisa and Debbie explained that the knives were not weapons, but everyday items for food and work, “a bit like most everyone today caries a mobile phone”.

…Janet improved her air abrading skills and found the very fragile/thin ‘original surface’ on the front of an iron mount – with wood grain preserved on the back.

… a surveyor came in to measure our spaces for the landlord  – eek ! (we just asked for another year’s free rent… hope Tesco is happy to keep supporting us !)

… a grandmother made a pre-arranged visit with her young grand daughter, who loves to collect fossils and interesting things from her garden and walks… both looked down the microscope at a knife with MPO sheath and a bug pupa – the little girl wrote down notes about her visit so she wouldn’t forget.

…Resident artist Rob working on our popular book in the background and sketching some of these scenes – we’ll post some of his finished pieces soon.

Good times. Don’t forget to check our Facebook page for regular updates and more pictures.

CSI: Open again!
February 24, 2012, 2:46 pm
Filed under: Home

The CSI lab is currently open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. We are now finishing off the last items from the first half of the cemetary and hoping to start the other half if our fundraising is successful. Please come along to see how we’re getting on and spread the word!

Following finds – from site to store- A meeting on Archaeological finds in memory of Penny MacConnoran
September 7, 2011, 6:38 pm
Filed under: Home

Will work for free
January 11, 2011, 10:13 pm
Filed under: People

Just a quick post to let you all know about an interesting blog called, ‘Will Work For Free‘.

“I created this in order to share with the world my passion for nonprofits and volunteerism. Here you can find personal anecdotes from my volunteer work, ways that millennials and others can get more involved, and my thoughts on nonprofit current events.

I hope that those who read this blog become inspired, informed, or at least interested when it comes to nonprofit work.”

The site has a lot of interesting stuff about volunteer projects, working with volunteers, information about volunteering, the authors experiences and much more.  It’s well worth having a good look if you have the time.

Calling all young volunteers
January 10, 2011, 7:40 pm
Filed under: news, People

CSI: Sittingbourne has partnered with Vinspired, the local arm of the national youth volunteering scheme, and is offering full and part time volunteer placements for a lab assistant and fund-raiser/market developer.  If we’re able to get help in these areas we should be able to re-open, and keep open, the lab and exhibition for the remainder of the lease meaning we may be able to complete the rest of the site.  As well as these benefits, Vinspired can also backdate and give future certificates and national recognition to all our 16-25 year old volunteers, which helps them with their CVs and job applications in these difficult times.

For more information about opportunities with CSI: Sittingbourne, and other projects, please take the time to visit the Vinspired website.

Conservation matters in wales 2010
December 17, 2010, 2:52 pm
Filed under: events

As promised last week here is a short review on the small conference held at the Cynon Valley Museum and Gallery.  Unfortunately I didn’t get any pictures as was sat right at the front and was listening intently to everyone (honest…), but I did manage to steal one picture from Nigel Blackamore’s Twitter (also a nice comment about CSI: too, thanks!).

Throughout the day there were 7 presentations in total from a range of speakers, including private and museum conservators, students and consultants.  The theme of the talks centred around ‘added value’ in conservation.  Hopefully I can remember some bits from each of these…

Place and Chips: reconstructing a sketchbook – but how do we display it? – Emily O’Reilly, National Museum Wales

The first talk of the day was from Emily O’Reilly of National Museum Wales (NMW).  The talk concerned sketches drawn by the artist Francis Place on a trip to Wales, their conservation, and the transfer of the drawings to a digital database.

Place and chips – get it?

Place = fish

Chips = computer chips

She’s here all week!  The presentation was very interesting and it was good to see the research involved in working on such objects.  The images will be put on Rhagor, the NMW website for collections and the stories behind them, in the near future, if they’re not already on there – well worth having a look.

A Very Odd Dice: Reconstructing a Roman Bone Dice – David Pearson, Cardiff University

Second up was David Pearson, a recent graduate from the BSc conservation course at Cardiff.  He was speaking about a Roman bone dice he conserved and the challenges he faced when working on the object.

The dice had come from the Newport Museum and had been subject to extensive damage when ‘yoofs’ had interfered with the display case a few years ago.  David’s job was to readhere and gap-fill the dice, but he faced a number of dilemmas in the choice of materials.  The presentation showed his thought process and testing methods for deciding on the materials to be used.  Perhaps a conservation first, he did NOT use Paraloid B-72!

Why the title?  The faces of the dice that were complete were the odd faces.

The Dilemmas of a Book Conservator – Juliet Clay, Private Conservator and Cardiff University

The presentation from Juliet Clay showed the numerous dilemmas that a book conservator faces.  She used examples from her own work as a freelance conservator to talk about the traditional techniques that she uses and the types of damage encountered when conserving old books.  It was interesting to hear the conservators approach in relation to what the client desires.

CSI: Sittingbourne – The Value of Volunteers – Cardiff University

At midday it was me.  I shan’t go into details about the talk a great deal, as all the information can be found on this blog, but I spoke about how using volunteers can enhance what can be achieved when working on objects of this nature and the potential benefits of such projects to conservation in the future.  I also went into the impact that the project has had within the local community and the range of extra opportunities that we can get with projects of this kind.

Overall, I think it went alright (…enthusiastic as usual you’ll see!).  The talk was well received and the response was really positive.  Hopefully I managed to give everyone credit and show how successful everything has been over the past 16 months.  I dressed up all smart as well, what a good boy.


Lunch is worthy of a mention here – everyone seems to bang on about how good the food is at the Cynon Valley Museum is and I can confirm that it did live up to the hype.  Worth a visit for this, and there’s a good social history collection there as well!

Conservators, Artists, Damage and Value – Peter David, Ceramics Conservator

I’ve heard Peter David speak previously about a slipware plate that he conserved, something that was really interesting.  This presentation was no different.  He talked about the values placed on different objects and demonstrated how the significance of the same object can be altered by a range of factors and over a period of time.  The presentation gave no answers, as he said himself, but it highlighted a number of questions that conservators should be asking in the future where more modern objects are concerned.

CyMAL’s Significance Model for Assessing Collections – Sarah Paul, CyMAL

Sarah spoke of the proposed plans for introducing a significance model for museum collections in Wales.  The aim is not to focus basing significance solely on what an object is worth in monetary terms, but rather on its cultural significance and value to the public.  Some museums have already adopted strategies like this, but this guideline will perhaps aid other museums in the future.

Another step towards professionalism? Conservation Standards – David Leigh, Consultant

David Leigh spoke about the value of developing standards in conservation.  It’s been a subject that seems to have been developed a lot more over the last few years within the profession and it is something that will surely help and make the profession more organised and allow us to work towards similar goals.  The subject is going to be more relevant in the years to come so it is  worthwhile subject, even if it isn’t the most interesting.

Overall, the day was really well organised and the range of topics was really interesting.  The museum, and Heather Perry, organised a good day – the conference was professional, but at the same time relaxed.  The museum is well worth a visit if you’re ever in the area as well.  As my first conference where I have spoken, it was a nice one to start at and I’m pleased, and maybe quite surprised, that it went so smoothly.  Thanks to Dana and everyone else involved with CSI: so far and Happy Christmas!

One week to go…
December 8, 2010, 5:51 am
Filed under: news

Just one week to go until the most important conservation conference of the year… kind of.

‘CSI: Sittingbourne – The Value of Volunteers’ is to be presented at the Conservation Matters in Wales conference, ‘Conservation: Added Value’, at the Cynon Valley Museum and Gallery in Aberdare, South Wales.  This is a one day conference organised by National Museum Wales, The Federation of Museums and Galleries of Wales and Cardiff University.

This will hopefully help to introduce some more people to the project who may not know about it.  It will also be my first conference that I have spoken at.  I don’t think imagining the audience naked will help with the nerves, but I’ll give it a go…



I shall post some photos and give a review next week as to how everything went and what the other presentations were about.

Another benefit of volunteers
November 23, 2010, 7:20 pm
Filed under: Community, news

This is just to notify anyone who doesn’t know about the exciting volunteer project at the Museum of London and a brief article featured in this month’s ICON News (November 2010 – issue 31).

The museum has run a number of volunteer programmes during the past 8 years since its archive (LAARC) opened to the public in 2002.  The current scheme, VIP (Volunteer Inclusion Programme), which has been funded by Renaissance London, has been running since 2008.  However, the aim of all the programmes has been to help improve accessibility to the archives by employing the help of volunteers who  update storage, such as repackaging, and documentation.  The added values and benefits of this approach have been those of teaching new skills, engaging the public, and introducing conservation to a new generation, as well as simply completing the work much faster.

Museum of London

From October to December 2010 (OK, October has passed and this post is a bit behind!) the volunteer programme will be on display in the Museum galleries.  VIP graduates will be there to interact with the public to explain the work involved in repackaging and documentation of collections.

As CSI: Sittingbourne is not open at the moment then you might like to pay a visit and have a look at this event instead, as well as the new galleries that opened a few months ago.  The archaeological collections officers are supervising hour long sessions at the Clore Learning Centre in addition to the gallery demonstrations.  Activities take place on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays until 10th December.

For more information about this event or any of the other volunteer programmes have a look at the links below.

What’s on at the Museum of London

Working life of Museum of London

Volunteer Inclusion Programme