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18 August 2006
Grant puts Seahenge in the spotlight

Museum visitors will be able to experience more of the history of a remarkable Norfolk (England) monument next year - thanks to a cash windfall from the government. An exhibition of part of the Bronze Age timber circle, Seahenge, is set to be the crowning glory of a 1m redevelopment of King's Lynn Museum. The museum reopened to visitors following the completion of the first phase of the revamp.
     Posts from the circle, which have been undergoing specialist conservation at the Mary Rose Trust in Portsmouth following their controversial excavation from the beach at Holme, near Hunstanton, in 1999, are due to return to Lynn after Christmas, ready for mounting in a specially-designed display. But extra features are now under discussion following news of the 65,000 grant, part of a national 4m payout for museum improvements by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Wolfson Foundation.
     Area museums officer Robin Hanley said there were hopes of setting up a replica of the original structure, which was built in the spring or early summer of 2049 BCE. "Obviously we are going to display about half of the original timbers but we felt it was important that people had a way to actually feel what it would have been like to walk into the circle," he explained. "What survives is only very fragmented. The current plan is to have, effectively, a complete circle in the centre of the gallery, one half of which will be the original timbers and the other will be a full-size replica."
     A audio-visual display will show the dramatic change in the landscape around Seahenge from the Bronze Age, when it formed part of an inland farming community, to the shifting sands which revealed it to the world as the 20th century drew to a close. There are also plans for an interactive interpretation, charting the step-by-step progress of the timbers from their harvest in a local wood to their assembly into the circle, and to provide a resource centre offering a range of in-depth additional information about the Seahenge story as a whole.
     The Seahenge display, which will form part of a wider exhibition about the history of West Norfolk, is due to open to the public next summer. "Although we've only got temporary exhibitions for this year, we've been hugely encouraged by the levels of people coming through," said Dr Hanley. The museum is offering free admission this year.

Source: EDP 24 (16 August 2006)

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