Gold, Oak and Adventure – News from the Museum

News of a few current happenings at Poole Museum might cheer the gloomy days of winter. The first is a free talk at the Museum on 25th February at 2.00pm by David Dawson of the Wiltshire Museum, Devizes. Gold from the Time of Stonehenge will outline the story of the World Heritage Site and its ritual landscape and feature the remarkable craftsmanship of objects found in the burials of chieftains, important women and priests who used the area for their ceremonies. Many of the objects discussed are on display at the Wiltshire Museum, home of the best Bronze Age collections in Britain. Booking is essential. To secure your place, please contact: and search under Poole.

Books for Boys: Heroism, Empire and Adventure at the Dawn of the First World War is a new exhibition running at the Museum until Sunday 23rd April which celebrates a golden age of books for children in the decades leading up to the war. In particular, it considers the influence of the stories of the time on the young men who so readily volunteered in 1914. There is also a special event for World Book Day on 3rd March. For more details see: .

mermanLastly – it’s back! The rudder of the Swash Channel wreck has returned to Poole from its conservation process in York and is now installed in the Museum. I would like to say it’s impossible to miss but actually that’s exactly what I did, wandering past it with my mind on something else. The massive piece of oak stands on the ground floor near the entrance, opposite the log boat. With a cross section of about 48cm x 34cm and a height of 4m to 5m, its top is above first floor level. Also on display nearby is a carving of a merman from above one of the gun ports of the vessel. This is a strangely androgynous figure with the body of a mermaid and the head of a man with beard, moustache and helmet, just one of a number of carvings retrieved from the wreck site.

rudder-head-1Looking down at the rudder from the first floor you get a better impression of the sheer size of the vessel, and yet this is only a section of the piece. The whole rudder is nearly twice as tall at over 8m. The most striking feature, however, is the larger than life-sized carved head on the top. The face is of a man of middle years, bold and tough, with the flamboyant moustache and long curls of the period and his eyes rolled upwards as if scanning the sails and the sky. It’s tempting to think that it might be the portrait of a real person, perhaps the Dutch owner of the ship, revealed once more after lying on the bottom of the sea, staring blindly out for nearly 400 years.

For more about the ship, see ‘Poole and the Swash Channel Wreck’ on this blog.



6 thoughts on “Gold, Oak and Adventure – News from the Museum

  1. Hello

    The talk by the Wiltshire Museum, Gold from the Time of Stonehenge is not on Event British as you stated – is there another way to book?


    Brian McDermott ________________________________

  2. Your article on the Swash Channel Wreck has measurements that are Metric – which are gobbledegook to my wife & I, both OAPs. Since when has it been customary for any British Museum to neglect to give sizes in Imperial Measurement without direction to that effect from our United Kingdom Government? If and when Imperial is confined to the Annals Of History, we will, of course, have to learn the “new system”, but it seems that public bodies, including yourselves and the BBC, assume that “everybody knows” that we have switched to Metric. NOT.

    • Thanks for your comment. I should mention that the Museum Society is not a public body in any way – just a voluntary organisation. Checking the article, I find I have usually put both imperial and metric measurements but I must admit, not in all instances. To make it clearer, the 6,660 kg of lead salvaged from the Dutch ships wrecked off the Needles amounts to about 132 hundredweight and the Swash Channel wreck is about 131 ft long with the rudder standing 26 ft high and with a cross section of around 1ft 6ins by 1ft. Only about 13 to 16ft of the rudder is on display as it would be very difficult to fit the whole thing in. Jenny

      • Thanks for your response, I feel like a lone voice sometimes, battling against the “assumption” that is inferred, i.e., “that every one knows” what metric means in the Land of Feet and Inches.

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