On Wednesday I went on a tour of the archaeological artefacts in the English Heritage collection in Helmsley. They opened the doors on their vast warehouse, just packed full of stone fragments and carvings, but also pottery, ceramics, glass.
The magic is that the staff conducting the tour were those who had dug and collected the items and who had done the research and were so knowledgeable about each and every piece. I learned such a lot, not only about the actual stone fragments, but also about the history of the time and the location. I've come away with so many notes to follow up, and things I want to know.
I was over-awed by the racks, floor to ceiling, in row after row, each filled with pallets of ancient stone. Examples of 5th Century heads, Roman mother Godesses, exquisitely and intricately carved roof bosses, which now were seen close-to, panels telling tales of valour, religion, folk-lore and creation. All these stone carvings revealing the stories of local Abbeys, Monasteries and Castles, about their architecture and the beliefs of the time.
Our two guides were tremendous, what a fascinating and enjoyable morning!
Unfortunately I am not allowed to show pictures of the pieces, but these images (from English Heritage) illustrate workers in 1921 at the local Rievaulx Abbey, digging for fragments, and the beautiful stone ruins.