Seahenge stump arrives in Lynn
Four thousand years after our ancestors built a timber circle on what is now Holme Beach, the final part of the monument was this morning lifted into what should be its final resting place.
A small crowd gathered in King's Lynn Bus Station in the lazy Sunday morning sunshine as the glass front of Lynn Museum was removed and the giant oak stump was painstakingly manoeuvred into its new home.
Museum officials held their breath as the carefully wrapped one and a half tonne stump was gradually rolled off a special van.
The completed Seahenge display will go on show this summer inside a replica of its original setting.
Controversy surrounded the decision to excavate the 4,000-year-old monument after it was discovered late in 1998.
But while the purpose of Seahenge's central stump remains unknown, scientists studying its ring of timbers have discovered ancient society in Norfolk was far more advanced than had previously been believed.
More than 20,000 visitors a year have been to see the oak posts since they went on show in a new £1.6m gallery at Lynn Museum two years ago.
Before going on display, the Portsmouth-based Mary Rose Trust spent almost a decade preserving the timbers, using similar techniques to those employed to preserve Henry VIII's warship the Mary Rose. Due to its size, the 8ft high central stump took a further two years to conserve.
Area museums officer Robin Hanley said like the smaller timbers, the stump displayed marks made by individual axes when it was built on the edge of what was originally forest.
"It's great to see the stump being reunited with the remainder of the timber circle after all these years they're been apart and great to see the timbers back together in West Norfolk," said Dr Hanley
"We've been extremely pleased with the response to the displays, a lot of people have been inspired by the preservation of the timbers and have enjoyed being able to see them in such detail.
"To be able to get so close to 4,000-year-old timbers and see individual axe marks left by Bronze Age axes is extraordinary."
Scientists using carbon and tree ring dating estimate Seahenge was built in the spring of 2049BC. It is believed to be the only example of its kind ever found. Its timbers were preserved by peat which encased them beneath the sands until its outline was revealed by a storm.
Dr Hanley said: "It has been a complex military style operation. It was nice to see people here for what is quite a momentous moment."
Seahenge enthusiast Christine Von Allwoderden, from North Wootton, came into the town to see the stump arrive.
She said: "How exciting it must have been when it was found. I am very interested in the history of it. I do think it's fantastic for King's Lynn and fantastic for the museum"
She added that although she thought it was good for King's Lynn to have the timber circle in the museum, she thought it should still be at Holme.
Posted by moss
19th April 2010ce