Placement at the Museum – Researcher’s Update

Kathryn Bullen, University of Nottingham

Currently I have reached the half-way point in my placement at the North Lincolnshire Museum, generously funded by Midlands4Cities, part of the Arts and Humanities Research Council. In this blog you will discover behind the scenes of the exhibition launch, learn about my website designed to complement the exhibition, and find out about the forthcoming exciting talks and workshops taking place during the next 6 months.

Colour photograph of the outside of a museum.
Museum exterior showing the banner advertising the Isle of Axholme and Hatfield Chase exhibition.

Exhibition Opening

In March 2022 I joined members of the project team, museum staff, volunteers and invited guests to celebrate the launch of the Axholme exhibition. A great deal of teamwork was involved behind the scenes to get the exhibition ready on time. This included arranging and putting up information panels with a precision laser measure, organising the display case material, and constructing the table for the 3D Ordnance Survey map.

Over 20 projects designed and run by the Isle of Axholme and Hatfield Chase Landscape Partnership over the last 5 years are showcased, showing the breadth of community involvement. These range from archaeological digs, community art ventures, and peatland restoration, to the construction of Crowle Peatland Railway. Alongside the partnership project information and displays are five panels written by me which focus on place-names, field-names and watery names on the Isle, together with a poem about the flora and fauna of Crowle Moors which encapsulates the landscape of the area. The exhibition is open until 9 October 2022 and can be visited in person, and shortly will also be available online via the Virtual Tour.

Highlights from the opening launch included volunteer demonstrations and a presentation. A volunteer Tudor reenactor demonstrated drop spinning and talked about the methods of flax production once common on the Isle. One of the younger school-age volunteers shared an inspiring presentation about his experiences gained during engagement with various projects run by the partnership. As a result of these experiences, he has been inspired into exploring a career as an archaeologist.

Overall, the launch was an excellent demonstration of community engagement, culminating with the publication of the booklet ‘Discovering Hatfield Chase and the Isle of Axholme’. This 124-page booklet, edited by Dr Nicola Whitehouse and Joel Karhapää from the University of Glasgow, is an outcome from Project Wildscape and has been written by volunteers from this project as well as more broadly. It introduces readers from the region and beyond to the wonders of Hatfield Chase and the Isle of Axholme. My contribution is a chapter written about evidence from place-names and archaeological objects, which suggests the presence of Vikings in Axholme. Copies of this free booklet are available at the exhibition.

Kathryn Bullen standing next to two of her place-name panels, holding a copy of ‘Discovering Hatfield Chase and the Isle of Axholme’.
Kathryn Bullen standing next to two of her place-name panels, holding a copy of ‘Discovering Hatfield Chase and the Isle of Axholme’

Beyond the Exhibition

Now that the exhibition is live, the remaining time is being spent delivering the project to the wider community. My complementary website focuses on Axholme place-names and encourages online engagement with the exhibition. Highlights include a specially commissioned heritage map exploring the Isle through time, and a clickable map detailing meanings and origins of Axholme place-names. I have also designed educational material for children and adults which can be accessed under resources.

Axholme map showing the locations of heritage sites.
Axholme heritage map by Alex Merrick.

A series of talks and writing workshops is taking place, which I am looking forward to managing. These include a range of different local speakers and writers relating to Axholme. On 20 May I am offering a presentation, either in person at the museum or online, ‘Digging up the evidence of Axholme place-names’. This talk will examine what place-names can tell us about the language, history and landscape of the wetlands of the Isle of Axholme. It will show how place-names can illuminate the story of Axholme’s changing landscape, share evidence collected so far, and demonstrate the relevance of place-name study. Check out the links on the What’s On page of the Museum website to book your place.

A final update on the placement will follow in late September in a further guest blog!

Axholme Place-names


Project Wildscape

University of Nottingham research page

Midlands4Cities research page

Twitter handle


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