British Museum To Open Again 27th August After 163 Day Covid Closure.

Image: Trustees of the British Museum. Portrait of King Henry VIII. Henry broke with the Catholic church over divorce, then introduced serial monogamy to England as he strove to produce a viable male heir to the throne.
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The British Museum, by the time it opens, will have been closed for 163 days, the longest peacetime closure in its 261-year history. However all is not lost and the diligient British public have continued to discover antiquities in spite of the inconvenience of COVID-19 lockdowns and quarantines.

The British public have discovered many hundreds of thousands of items of buried treasure, and recently the British Museum revealed that the number recorded to its Portable Antiquities Scheme has hit a milestone 1.5 million. These finds have radically transformed what we know about life through time on the British Isles.

There is a large diversity among the 1.5 million discoveries. They range in size from vast coin hoards – the biggest was the Frome Hoard of 52,500 coins – to one-of-a-kind.single pieces such as the 3,500-year-old Ringlemere Cup.

Since the relaxing of lockdown rules from 13 May 2020, it has been possible for finders to go out searching for objects again as long as they maintain social-distancing rules.

There remains a legal obligation for people to report Treasure finds and stop if they find any archaeology in situ (so that a find, such as a coin hoard, remains undisturbed from when it was deposited).

The oldest items include prehistoric-worked flint from 700,000 years ago; the youngest include 20th-century military badges. Recorded finds include arrowheads, axes, beads, brooches, buckles, coins, combs, finger-rings, gaming pieces, knives, sculpture, spindle whorls, tokens and vervels. (A vervel is a ring used for attaching a hawk to its perch.)

Michael Lewis, Head of PAS and Treasure at the British Museum, said: “There is no doubt that these finds have transformed our understanding of the history and archaeology of England and Wales, and that of Britain more generally. Some of these items are spectacular and are finds of a lifetime. But even the smallest and most modest items offer clues about our history, so we encourage everyone who makes a find to continue to come forward.”

The museum is not allowing school trips yet, and overseas visitors may find the 14-days quarantine irksome, but the museum is back.

 

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