Virtual Museum

Explore the objects and artefacts from our recent excavations... in 3D

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This skull of a 12-14 year old female brown bear has been radiocarbon dated to around 14,600 years ago, just after the last Ice Age. It’s the only adult female bear known to have hibernated and died in the cave, which was mostly used by adult males and juveniles, and she may have died from starvation soon after giving birth, as she is found along with bones from a new born cub. The skull is one of the first objects indicating that the area had been resettled, shortly followed by cutmarked horse bone and a carved javelin point which provide the first evidence that humans returned to the north of England just a century or so later. When they first arrived, they would have seen bear bones scattered all over the cave floor.

This artefact is archived at the Tot Lord Collection in Yorkshire.

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Some namestones have decorated borders, but this one is pretty unique; it is filled with text. Reading clockwise, you can make out part of a Latin phrase II ORAT EPRO II F.— —.]INIB’ I. Originally, it probably read ORATE PRO FRATRIBUS NOSTRIS ET PRO CUNCTIS CHRISTIANIS HOMINIB(US), which means something like “Pray for all of us, our Christian people”.

The triangular or pyramid-like symbol is an ‘Alpha’. Many of the namestones are inscribed with Alpha and Omega, shorthand for a phrase from the Bible, Revelations XX II 13, which says ‘I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end”. The Omega has broken off on this namestone, but these symbols are found on stones from Lindisfarne and Hartlepool, linking the three sites.

ASC Billginham 13

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This hollow bronze ring is part of the Lancaster Hoard, and is about 3,000 years old. There is some debate over what it would actually have been used for, as similar rings found elsewhere in Bronze Age hoards have been theorised as various parts of bronze cauldrons and hanging pots. The two possible harness rings in the hoard are roughly the size of a camera lens-cap, and weigh only as much as a tennis ball.

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