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Burymead

A guest post by Daisy Bradford, who did four weeks’ work experience with the Museum Service in August 2014:

This summer holiday just past, I spent four weeks doing voluntary with the North Herts Archaeology Service because I have a passion for archaeology and I plan to study it at university when I complete my A-Levels.

Daisy working at the Museums Resource Centre, Burymead Road in Hitchin

Daisy working at the Museums Resource Centre, Burymead Road in Hitchin

In my four weeks with the local archaeologists and museum workers in North Hertfordshire, I learned a lot of things and gained a lot of experience that will aid me in my future ambitions and also as useful life skills. I spent a lot of time with artefacts, holding them, observing them, classifying, photographing, cleaning and it really enabled me to have a close insight into the archaic culture of our ancestors that you won’t get from visiting a museum.

I also got to go on a few site visits to current commercial digs throughout the county, which was fascinating for me, who’d never seen a real dig let alone got to go on one and see how they are organised and all the amazing things the archaeologists find and it showed me how incredibly rich the history is just outside my front door.

This experience has been a great one for me and I’ve earned many skills and a deeper understanding of the study of Archaeology, as well as increasing my passion for it.

I’d also like to say thanks to Keith and Ros, who made sure I was doing all my work right and made the experience even more enjoyable.

Now that I have come to the end of my internship with the North Herts Museums, and taken pictures of thousands of objects, I thought I would share my favourite object from the Social History Store at Burymead.

The object I liked most in the Social History Store was the wooden Bird House.

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When we first discovered it in the depths of the store room, it was very dusty, and its only inhabitant was a lonely spider. But once we had taken the object out, dusted it off a little and taken the spider out it was clear that it was a very beautiful, decorative bird house.The birdhouse is very ornate and delicate, the bird house itself probably would have been a decoration in the front room.

In the 18th century, birds lived in dwellings that were similar of houses for people than for the birds themselves. Often made of expensive and exotic woods and built like miniature architectural models, these structures were found among the very rich and fashionable people of England and France. While structurally beautiful, most of these fantastic cages did little to support the needs of the bird. Often dangerous for the birds and difficult to clean, it’s amazing that the birds survived in these structures at all.

I particularly like the small set of steps leading up to the ‘door’, which were obviously useless for the bird, but make the entire cage look more like a house.

Finally I would like to thank everyone at the North Herts Museum Service for being so welcoming and giving me the opportunity to see the objects in storage. I look forward to visiting the new museum in 2015.

Now that I am coming to the end of my time working for the North Herts Museum Service I thought it would be a good opportunity to share with you what is my favourite object in storage at Burymead.

I have chosen a selection of ‘Home Cookery’ magazines which date from 1911-1919. My reasons for choosing these are simply because I enjoy cooking myself and found it interesting to see the recipes people were using 100+ years ago.

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In the 1911 publication I particularly enjoyed the ‘Invalid Recipes’ which include Bovril Toast, Bovril Custard and Boiled Custard. I wonder which of those you would find most appealing? Personally I am not sure which I would prefer!

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The second publication I have chosen is from the war period and is dated October 1915. The focus of this issue is on the cheap cuts of meat which can be found, and how to plan a week’s meals in advance. This includes substituting meat for other food stuffs including oatmeal and breadcrumbs to bulk out a meal.

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Finally I would like to thank everyone at the North Herts Museum Service for being so welcoming and giving me the opportunity to see the objects in storage. I look forward to visiting the new museum in 2015.