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This blog is a behind the scenes look at the Roman Baths in Bath. We hope you enjoy reading our stories about life surrounding the Roman Baths.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

New Keynsham Abbey display

About half way between Bath and Bristol is the town of Keynsham. Up until Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries on the 23rd of January 1539, it was home to the Keynsham order of Victorine Monks. While some remains can still be seen in situ in the north corner of Memorial Park, much of the Abbey was removed during the construction of the Keynsham Bypass. You can read about the work that is being undertaken with the Abbey Collection in Verity's previous blog.

As Keynsham is part of the Bath and North East Somerset Council, the Roman Baths has taken up care of objects collected from the Abbey site, including a large amount of stonework, and collection of small finds. As Keynsham itself does not have its own museum, there are currently a selection of Medieval tiles, pottery and stonework also from the Abbey on permanent display at the Keynsham ‘One-Stop-Shop’ and library, and just last  week we have installed a new display case containing small objects from the Abbey site.

When I began planning this display, I not only knew next to nothing about Keynsham and its Abbey, but I also knew incredibly little about Medieval Monks and how they lived. Now about a month later, after a few visits to the town, and reading many books, I do feel slightly less at risk of being exposed as a total Keynsham fraud. Although, my knowledge is still very basic!

I think the reason I have really enjoyed putting this display together is the variety of objects from the Abbey site that I had to choose from, including a bone flute, many keys, and a decorative, albeit slightly worried looking carved face. When choosing the objects for display I tried to pick items that were not only pretty and interesting, but similar to objects we have in our lives today. The Roman Baths looks after such a diverse collection from the local area that most people wouldn’t expect. It has been such an experience to be able to handle and work with these objects that were a part of lives so many years ago, and I am really pleased with how it has turned out.

Lead ventilation panel from the Abbey

The display “Life at the Abbey” is currently located on the first floor of the Keynsham One-Stop-Shop/Library. Downstairs you’ll find the aforementioned displays of tile, pottery and stonework, as well as well as Roman material including the amazing mosaics from Durley Hill Roman Villa.  So if you’re ever in the area looking to borrow a book, you could also have a cup of coffee and a look around the building, and maybe learn a little about Keynsham as well. 

We are grateful to Cllr Charles Gerrish who contributed his allowance from the ward councillors initiative programme to pay for the display case. 

Ella, Placement from New Zealand

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