Pilgrim Trust Conservation Grant – The Wiltshire Museum

The Wiltshire Museum letter book after conservation smaller

Remedial conservation – Conservation of Correspondence to William Cunnington I, 1799-1810
AIM grant: £4,750

The Wiltshire Museum is governed by the Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society (WANHS), and was formed in 1853 to establish a Museum and Library promoting the study of objects connected with Wiltshire. The museum opened in 1874 and has extensive Designated archaeology collections along with art, natural history, local history and an Archive and Library.

This fascinating ‘letter book’ contains 246 letters sent to William Cunnington between 1799 and 1810.  Written to him by fellow antiquarians they discuss archaeological discoveries as they began exploring some of Wiltshire’s prehistoric sites, including from the World Heritage Sites of Avebury and Stonehenge.  The letters contain information about many of the objects in the Museum’s Prehistoric Wiltshire Galleries and are much used by researchers. For years the book has had restricted access due to conservation concerns. In 2019 the museum received a grant from the AIM Pilgrim Trust Conservation Scheme to conserve and digitise the letters and house them in bespoke archival ring binders. 

Lancefield Conservation cleaned, repaired and digitised the letters before making three clam shell ring binders to store the letter collection. During the conservation work additional information and some correspondent names and addresses were revealed. 

The outcome of the conservation work to the letters is amazing. They look clean, the curled edges have gone and the script is much clearer to read. The clam shell ring binders are beautifully made and will safeguard the letters for future generations to enjoy.

“We are delighted to see this important collection of letters transformed into a resource that can now be made easily available to the many researchers who access our nationally important archaeology collections every year. Making these letters accessible in the widest possible terms will enhance our research programme and no doubt lead to further discoveries being made in the future”. Lisa Brown, Curator.

Jane Schön, Collections Officer: Archive and Library. The Wiltshire Museum

Pictured: The Wiltshire Museum letter book after conservation

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