Treasured objects take centre stage at Kilmartin museum reopening

Photograph: National Museums Scotland

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A jet necklace found in a stone cist burial in Kilmartin Glen will be on display in Kilmartin Museum, when it re-opens.

The necklace, from the Bronze Age, has never been displayed before in the Museum.

Kilmartin Museum has secured loans for this and many other artefacts found in the glen from National Museums Scotland and the British Museum for the new exhibition galleries when it reopens next year.

At the heart of Kilmartin Glen since 1997, Kilmartin Museum interprets, explains and conserves the internationally important archaeological landscape, artefacts and natural heritage of Kilmartin Glen.

Having outgrown its buildings, the museum is currently undergoing a major redevelopment, to give it the space to expand, build on its successes and continue its work.

The design,  by award-winning architects Reiach and Hal l will join together the museum’s two existing buildings creating a seamless museum facility.

The aim is to significantly develop the work of the museum and create an inspiring place where the story of Kilmartin Glen’s unique archaeological and natural heritage can be told and celebrated.

Artefacts found there – such as the beautiful jet necklace and the magnificent Bronze Age pottery vessel from the Glebe Cairn – are some of Scotland’s most important archaeological finds from the period.

The redevelopment will also meet the security and environmental conditions necessary to allow material to come on loan from the National Collections.

Dr Sharon Webb, head of collections said: ‘It will be so exciting to see these amazing artefacts in the new museum, particularly the jet necklace.

‘In 1928, archaeologists found the necklace in a stone cist burial in Kilmartin Glen.

‘Jet necklaces are one of the signifiers of wealth and prestige in the Bronze Age, but also that these people had rich spiritual lives and afterlives.

‘Jet comes from Whitby in Yorkshire, so the presence of such an amazing artefact in Kilmartin also speaks of the wide ranging contacts Bronze Age communities had.

‘We can’t wait to tell these amazing stories in the new facility and we are so grateful to the National Museum of Scotland for lending us this most precious and rare artefact.

‘The curatorial and interpretation team at Kilmartin have considered thousands of artefacts for display, many from other museums, as well as our own collections.

‘They have been working with exhibition designers Studioarc to design up to date displays that will tell the amazing story of Kilmartin Glen in an informative and engaging way.’

National Museums Scotland is lending 63 objects to the redeveloped Kilmartin Museum in all, roughly a quarter of the material on display.

As well as the necklace, which will be loaned for a year, long-term loans include a Bronze Age pottery vessel from the Glebe Cairn, objects from the early medieval royal fort at Dunadd and a range of Neolithic and Bronze Age artefacts.

Dr Matthew Knight, senior curator of prehistory – Bronze Age Collections at National Museums Scotland said: ‘We’re delighted to be able to confirm this significant and substantial loan to Kilmartin Museum and are looking forward to seeing the material on display in the redeveloped museum.

‘Our conservation, curatorial and collections teams are currently devoting many hours and days to getting the material ready for display.

‘The Poltalloch necklace is a beautiful and impressive object and we hope that many people will enjoy it during the year it is on display,

‘We’re looking forward to working with our colleagues at Kilmartin on this project.’