A major grant of £60,000 is set to help Milton Keynes Museum tell the full story of this area’s past.
The grant, from The Headley Trust – one of 17 grant-making trusts established by the Sainsbury family – will be used to display the city’s rich archaeology and use it to tell nationally significant stories from a local perspective.
Until now, much of the treasure trove of objects uncovered when Milton Keynes was being built, has been in storage or in other museums. The creation of two new galleries at the museum – ancient and new Milton Keynes – is a chance to tell the full story of this area in an exciting and interactive way.
“Milton Keynes has had more archaeological investigation than any other similar-sized area in England," said museum director Bill Griffiths.
"But until now there have been no galleries in Milton Keynes suitable for displaying archaeology and so it has remained inaccessible to the local population. This will change in the two galleries built through a partnership project between the independent Milton Keynes Museum and MK Council.
"We are hugely grateful to the Headley Trust for helping us turn this vision into a reality.”
On the farmland where the Museum now sits archaeologists found the biggest Bronze/Iron Age roundhouse so far discovered in Britain as well as a 3rd Century Roman villa and mausoleum. Other notable finds locally include a set of Bronze Age gold torcs (bracelets) at Monkston – the largest Bronze Age gold hoard found so far in Britain; at Fenny Stratford a 3rd century hoard of forged coins; and at Stony Stratford two priests’ headdresses and fragments of silver.
The items – and replicas suitable for handling and photographing – will be used in the Ancient Milton Keynes gallery in world-class displays that bring history to life.
Robert Bell, director of the Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts, said: “The Headley Trust is delighted to be able to help Milton Keynes Museum in its work, bringing alive its rich and powerful history, for the benefit of the many visitors it promises to attract”.
The grant brings a step closer the exhibition fit-out in the Ancient Milton Keynes Gallery with opening likely for the 2020 season. The Museum is continuing its efforts to close the £1.4m funding gap that will enable it to complete both galleries and double the size of its popular Granary café to cope with soaring visitor numbers.