Kent Archaeological Review extract

The Archaeology Gallery, National Maritime Museum.
by Peter Grant.

In January 1973, as part of the "Fanfare for Europe" celebrations, the National Maritime Museum opened its Archaeological Gallery, this event being considered suitably appropriate as "a boat knows no frontiers." On display is an exhibition of photographs, drawings and models, showing methods of recovery, dating and preservation of old boats. Particular attention is given to the Graveney Boat with which the Canterbury Group was closely associated. The boat is now in the care of the Museum and when all the research is successfully concluded it, too, will take its place in the Gallery.

The exhibits are well laid out and the various techniques explained in simple language. The Gallery itself is as yet not yet very large, but the paddle steamer "Reliant" towering above tends to be a bit overpowering. It has something of an underground chamber atmosphere, but perhaps this is not inappropriate for an archaeological gallery. These are very small criticisms as the opening of the Gallery signifies a decision that must be very welcome to all archaeologists. The Maritime Museum has accepted responsibility for nautical archaeology and once the decision was made, funds were available and vacancies created for an expert conservation and research staff. A special unit has been set up for the study of the Graveney boat and a report will be published in 1973 or 1974. Work is also well in hand for a fully equipped Conservation Unit. This will offer facilities for accommodation, as well as equipment for the proper study and conservation of waterlogged ships and other timbers and this should be ready by 1974. I asked the Director of the Museum what it could do in the meantime if, say, a "Class. Brit." warship turned up somewhere! He replied that expert advice would be available immediately and, if necessary, a tank could be built in two days. All in all nautical archaeology has a good friend in the National Maritime Museum. It is a pity that there is not a gallery in some other Museum, showing the other side of the coin -- the widespread destruction of archaeological information and the immense tasks Groups, such as CKA member-groups, have in trying to do something about it. The Museum is open Monday to Saturdays 10 am to 6 pm (in winter 5 pm) and Sundays 2.30 to 6 pm.

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