Wiltshire Museum Special - Stonehenge Gold, Saxon Wessex, the Ravilious Exhibition & More

Episode 23,   Nov 07, 2021, 05:00 AM

A real treat in store in this episode as we interview David Dawson, Director of Wiltshire Museum in Devizes.

But first we have our usual round-up of what we’ve been up to since the last episode.

The second Hidden Wiltshire book is approaching completion. Apart from providing the music for the podcast Steve Dixon is a graphic designer. He’s now cast his eye over the draft and given us some great advice. We’re nearly ready to send it off for a draft print before ordering the full print run. The book will be available from the Hidden Wiltshire online store in time for Christmas.

Meanwhile Paul has returned from a month in France to a cold damp Wiltshire. But this week’s volunteering at Parsonage Down warmed him up after being given the run around by a ram in a very large field who was reluctant to share a paddock with two other rams. His (the ram, not Paul’s) eye was on the sheep further up the hill. It took six people on foot plus a seventh in a Landrover to catch the bugger! (Which idiot left that gate open??) Still, that was better than being eaten alive by a swarm of midges later the same afternoon. The midges of Scotland would have been proud of their southern cousins.

Earlier in the week Paul and regular walking chum Stu did a recce for a walk in the countryside around Hippenscombe and the Chute Causeway. If you follow the Hidden Wiltshire Facebook page or members’ Group you will have seen the report and photographs. We’re planning to run an extra combined Hidden Wiltshire/Wiltshire Museum walk in the area this winter but there’s so much to see we may have to split it in two. Parking will also be a challenge in the narrow lanes and little villages there.

We then turned to our interview with David Dawson. We’ve got to know David well over the course of this year during our programme of Hidden Wiltshire/Wiltshire Museum walks, in which David’s expertise and his “box of tricks” (finds from the areas in which we’ve walked) have been invaluable. This was a really fascinating discussion which could have gone on for hours, and explains why this episode of the podcast is slightly longer than usual. 

David’s interest in archaeology began when he was a boy and he’s been passionate about it ever since, having studied archaeology at university. A qualified museum curator he patiently waited over the course of several years for the role at Wiltshire Museum (which was founded in 1853) to become vacant in 2008. He didn’t hesitate and he’s been here ever since.

Our discussion ranged from David’s particular areas of interest, the structure and funding of Wiltshire Museum to a taster of the some of the internationally significant exhibits that can be seen at the museum in Devizes. Followers of the podcast have heard us talk on a number of occasions about amateur archaeologist (although the term was not used then) and antiquarian William Cunnington of Heytesbury, and his patron Sir Richard Colt Hoare of Stourhead. David really brought these characters to life for us. Listeners may also have heard us talk about landscape artist Eric Ravilious. Whilst not from Wiltshire he was a lover of our chalk downlands and painted many local scenes, including one of our favourites which is of Hippenscombe from the Chute Causeway entitled simply “The Causeway”. Wiltshire Museum currently has an exhibition of Ravilious’ artwork. Entitled Downland Man the exhibition runs until 30 January 2022. This is a unique opportunity to see 25 examples of his work, on loan from their owners all over the country. For the entry fee of £6 (children free), which also covers access to the museum’s other exhibits, this is an absolute bargain. You’ll find a link to the museum’s website with more details below.

Finally we discussed the museum’s plans to relocate to the old Devizes Assize Courts building next to Wadworth Brewery. This is a long-term project which hopefully will see the museum relocate in around 8-10 years’ time. But first there’s the small matter of raising the £12m-£13m required. Fortunately David’s not inconsiderable skills include raising funds!

Then on to the wrap up:

Steve Dixon’s piece leading into the interview with David Dawson is entitled “Porto”, for no other reason than we haven’t used it before and it conjured up the image of Steve in a beret playing the accordion! As ever the piece in the introduction at the end of the podcast is entitled “The Holloway”.

Don’t forget to subscribe to the Hidden Wiltshire Newsletter from the website.

Thanks again to the ever-patient Tim Kington at TKC Sales, the UK distributors of Lowa walking boots and shoes, and for the 20% discount on their products to Hidden Wiltshire podcast listeners. Listen to the show for the discount code. It can’t last forever! You’ll find a link to Lowa Boots’ website below.

And finally, help us keep the lights on by heading to the Hidden Wiltshire Online shop. Link below. The second Hidden Wiltshire book will be available there soon.


Wiltshire Museum’s website and details of the Eric Ravilious exhibition, Downland Man, can be found here Wiltshire Museum

Glyn’s photographs can be seen of course on this website and on his Instagram feed @coy_cloud

Paul’s photography can be found on his website at Paul Timlett Photography and on Instagram at @tragicyclist

Steve Dixon’s sound art can be found on Soundcloud where his username is River and Rail Steve Dixon River and Rail. His photographs can be found on Instagram at @stevedixon_creative and his graphic design business website is at Steve Dixon Creative

You can find Lowa Boots UK at Lowa Boots UK

And finally you’ll find the Hidden Wiltshire online shop here Hidden Wiltshire Shop