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Liverpool and the Garstang Museum

January 14, 2016

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Liverpool

Liverpool, as the man says, has pretty much everything you’d want and a lot you don’t want.

It has magnificent buildings

Liver Building

2 (TWO) cathedrals,

Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral - designed by Frederick Gibberd, photo by Julia

Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral – designed by Frederick Gibberd, photo by Julia

 

Liverpool Cathedral, designed by Giles Gilbert Scott, photo by Julia

Liverpool Cathedral, designed by Giles Gilbert Scott, photo by Julia

art galleries, theatres, museums

The new Liverpool museum will get heat and electricity from two biodiesel-powered Scania engines. Photo: Stan Lewis

Museum of Liverpool

and music venues, all the shops you’d ever need, yet parts of Liverpool are shabby, dirty, there’s visible poverty, very run down areas, it was badly bombed during the 2nd World War, but it’s survived.

View of Liverpool from St James Mount. Photo by Julia

View of Liverpool from St James Mount. Photo by Julia

I love Liverpool, I love the contradictions, for the inhabitant’s sake I wish it wasn’t so poor but it’s visceral and vibrant. I’ve been going to Liverpool for decades. It was our nearest big city when I was growing up in North Wales, when I moved to Cardiff I’d come back for conferences or to see friends, now I live in the North West I tend to go to Manchester if I need city life but Manchester doesn’t have the same resonance. Liverpool, like London and Glasgow (and it is very like Glasgow), makes me feel more alive as soon as I step off the train. So it was with great joy that I realised I needed to go to Liverpool and see Jon –to deliver the post-PhD cake and my copy of Lives in Land for review, as in reviewing the book not the cake, although he’s welcome to review the cake too.

If Charlotte is reading this, the hedgehog lost its nose before I gave it to Jon, he didn't eat it before he came home, honest.

If Charlotte is reading this, the hedgehog lost its nose before I gave it to Jon, he didn’t eat it before he came home, honest.

I fortuitously cleverly picked last Wednesday as the day to go, Wednesday is the only day the Garstang Museum is open and Jon knows where it is

Entrance to the Grstang Museum. Photo by Julia

Entrance to the Garstang Museum. Photo by Julia

– I doubt I’d have found it without him. Just as an aside, if you ever need to go anywhere – take Jon. He knows everything, seriously, and, even more amazing, he can remember names, dates, places, anecdotes. Where I flounder and wave my arms around and say ‘thingy’ a lot, he shows you the University of Liverpool’s sphinxes

Rooftop sphines. Photo by Julia

Rooftop sphinxes. Photo by Julia

the oldest post box in Liverpool

The oldest post box in Liverpool. Photo by Julia

tells you tales of Augustus John’s time as an art lecturer at the University of Liverpool and how, had the invasion plan succeeded, the Nazis had earmarked this building to be the Liverpool Gestapo’s headquarters.

Harold Cohen Library. Photo by Julia.

Harold Cohen Library. Photo by Julia.

Walking through Abercromby Square

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                                                Abercromby Square

he’ll explain that it’s named after General Ralph Abercromby who died at the Battle of Alexandria in 1801 – the beautiful building in the garden is/was a tool shed. Then he’ll take you on a slight detour to 19 Abercromby Square,

19 Abercromby Square. Photo by Julia

19 Abercromby Square. Photo by Julia

the former Bishop’s Palace, and tell you all about Noel Chavasse, son of the second Bishop of Liverpool, Olympic athlete, member of the Royal Army Medical Corps from 1913 and the only man to be twice awarded the Victoria Cross during the First World War. As if that wasn’t enough, Jon will then explain that the exterior of No 19 Abercromby Square has the confederate star above the entrance and a painting of a palmetto tree

Lobby ceiling, No 19 Abercromby Street. Photo by Julia

Lobby ceiling, No 19 Abercromby Street. Photo by Julia

the symbol of South Carolina, in the lobby because it was built in 1862 for Charles Prioleau, an American Confederate cotton merchant. There was more, the Student’s Union

Does your Student Union look like this? No, didn't think so. Photo by Julia

Does your Student Union look like this? No, didn’t think so. Photo by Julia

George Melly’s plaque

George Melly

Photo by Julia

talk to you about teetotalism and pubs, Lutyen’s design for Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral – only the crypt and treasury were built – and no doubt other stuff I’ve completely forgotten. But, we’re here to visit the Garstang Museum, not Jon’s encyclopaedic mind.

The museum is small, but fascinating. Although it’s called the Garstang Museum, it has always reflected the entirety of archaeological teaching at the University of Liverpool. They have an excellent web presence which you can check out here. It may be small but it packs a lot in. You walk past a beautiful stone sarcophagus as you enter – which I forgot to photo, duh! – turn a corner and there’s a fantastic display of photos and ephemera from Garstang’s excavations.

That pose looks awfully familiar - as Jon says, Garstang was trained by Petrie. Photo by Julia

That pose looks awfully familiar – as Jon says, Garstang was trained by Petrie. Photo by Julia

The museum has wisely chosen several beautiful photos, enlarged them and used those to tell the story of Garstang’s excavations and the university’s work.

Survey of Anatolia. Photo by Julia

Survey of Anatolia. Photo by Julia

It’s these photos that make the museum so special. The cases, while well displayed with gorgeous artefacts

Egyptian Gallery - Garstang Museum. Photo by Julia

Egyptian Gallery – Garstang Museum. Photo by Julia

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Garstang Museum - all photos by Julia

Garstang Museum – all photos by Julia

– and this one was partially done by our own JT  –

Garstang Museum 'Trade' display case - section on 'Pre-Roman Trade' done by Jon. Phot by Julia

Garstang Museum ‘Trade’ display case – section on ‘Pre-Roman Trade’ done by Jon. Photo by Julia

contain the sort of material you can see in any sizeable museum. That’s not a criticism, given the lack of space the Garstang Museum staff have done a wonderful job of showcasing the artefacts. But the photos

Garstang excavations. Photo by Julia

Garstang excavations. Photo by Julia

and Garstang’s documents

The guest book is open to record the visit of Beatrice, Princess of somewhere Germanic. Look, they've got Garstang's specs and that fantastic crate on display, why would I remember royalty in the face of that? Photo by Julia

The guest book is open to record the visit of Beatrice, Princess of somewhere Germanic. Look, they’ve got Garstang’s specs and that fantastic crate on display, why would I remember royalty in the face of that? Photo by Julia

Wonderful ephemera. Photo by Julia

Wonderful ephemera. Photos by Julia

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raise it above the ordinary for a historian of archaeology. It would have been lovely if they’d done the same with all of the displays. I’d liked to have known more about the all the excavations and excavators whose material is displayed here. But, I’m aware of the lack of space, funding, and that my interests aren’t everyone’s – damnit!

There’s very little detail about Garstang’s life away from his excavations, this is very much a museum of the results of people’s archaeological work. It’s a place of education about the past, the material presented in broad themes

 

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Photos by Julia

a place for school children and undergraduates to get an idea about past societies and an understanding that the 21st century is not the pinnacle of civilisation. Again this isn’t a criticism, there is, as I’ve repeatedly said, very little space, however, I would have liked to know more about Garstang’s teaching. I’d liked to have seen something about the development of archaeology at Liverpool as an academic subject. This was one of the first places to teach archaeology and that should be acknowledged and celebrated through the displays.

This was our absolute favourite photo. Look! They're using a Mummy case as an extra table! Also, don't you just love that Garstang's working away while his assistant is sitting reading the paper? We decided he was checking the winning racehorses or the latest cricket scores. Photo by Julia

This was our absolute favourite photo. Look! They’re using a Mummy case as an extra table! Also, don’t you just love that Garstang’s working away while his assistant is sitting reading the paper? We decided he was checking the winning racehorses or the latest cricket scores. Photo by Julia

Admittedly I could have spent more time here talking about Garstang and less about Liverpool and the wonders of Jon’s memory – but, hey people, context! Plus, there’s more information about Garstang on the website. I’m hoping Jon and I can get together and write a post about Garstang or one on the development of archaeology at the University of Liverpool, or both. I haven’t mentioned this to him yet. . .

Until next week, have a great weekend

Julia

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Kathleen Sheppard permalink
    January 14, 2016 3:54 pm

    Jonty knows EVERYTHING about EVERYWHERE! He took Ulf and I on a little tour of Glasgow. Jealous! I need to go to Liverpool next time I’m in England. I’ve never been!

    • harngroup permalink*
      January 21, 2016 2:08 pm

      It’s not far from here and you will be coming to stay with us, surely?

      • Kathleen Sheppard permalink
        January 21, 2016 5:19 pm

        Of course!!

  2. January 18, 2016 11:20 am

    Looks an interesting place to visit, should I ever be in Liverpool on a Wednesday. I shall check with you about museums if I’m visiting other places too.

    BTW – did Garstang also adopt Petrie’s relaxed attitude to food?

    • harngroup permalink*
      January 21, 2016 2:07 pm

      I don’t know about the food, I think we need to refer this to Jonty . . .

  3. Paula Tutty permalink
    February 22, 2016 1:19 pm

    Oh dearie me no, certainly not! Here is a link to a super photo of Garstang at tea in a tomb with a view.
    http://egyptology.blogspot.no/2008/12/garstang-at-world-museum-liverpool.html

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