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Saturday, 20 December 2014

Furness viking heritage comes to the fore in new exhibition

A NEW gallery showcasing the remarkable archaeological history of Furness – including its Viking heritage – is set to open at the Dock Museum.

The Evening Mail was yesterday granted a special preview of the Stone Axe, Blood Axe, Conquest display ahead of its public unveiling tomorrow.

The gallery traces all the region’s significant developments from 12,000 years ago up until the advent of Furness Abbey in the 12th century.

Taking centre stage is the 92-piece Viking hoard uncovered by a local metal detectorist near Stainton quarry during Easter 2011.

The rare collection of coins and other artefacts only remained in the area after the community raised £49,500 in just two months to purchase it from the Crown.

That slice of history is accompanied by an imposing replica longboat, hand built by Eduro Furniture.

Also, a short documentary produced by videographer Stuart Appley, of Comely Media, featuring re-enactments of marauding Vikings when they ruled the peninsula, will be screened.

The Dock Museum’s collections and exhibitions manager, Sabine Skae, said she never thought the hoard’s discovery would lead to an entire new gallery at the museum.

She said: “I didn’t imagine it at the time, The support has been overwhelming. People have helped in so many different ways.

“They really have shared that enthusiasm for the Vikings by helping us get the hoard to Barrow and getting it on display at the Dock Museum.

“We’ve all had that common goal.

“It’s one of the things you can’t achieve by yourself, you need the support of many different people.”

The gallery also contains other artefacts from centuries past, including a human skull found at Birkrigg Common and the jaw of a lynx wildcat.

Ms Skae said she hoped the archaeological gallery would help provide a more complete picture of Furness’s history.

“It’s easy to be dominated by the 19th and 20th centuries because they were such explosive times for Barrow, with the coming of the railway and the starting of the shipbuilding,” she said.

“But if you go much further back, you’re looking at big changes in how people lived and why we have the place names that we have today.”

The gallery will open to the public tomorrow from 11am. Admission is free.

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