Malton Museum Foundation
16th July 2004
TWO GODDESSES UNVEILED AT MALTON MUSEUM
A small masterpiece of Roman wall painting goes on show in Malton Museum today. 1600 years ago it adorned the walls of a town house in the Roman town of Malton.
The painting shows the head of a female figure, with a circular nimbus behind her head possibly indicating she is a goddess. The painting has been carefully restored in the conservation laboratories at the University of Durham.
The new display will be inaugurated by Annie Mauger, Chief Executive of the Yorkshire Museums Libraries and Archives Council, before an invited audience at Malton museum on the evening of 16th July. It will be available for museum visitors to see on 17th July, National Archaeology Day, and will become part of the permanent show at the Museum.
To celebrate the return of the Malton goddess after so long local brewers Suddabys Ltd of 12 Wheelgate, Malton, today launch their new ale Malton Goddess.
This light flavoursome golden ale is a particularly appropriate way of marking the goddess's return. Next to the house in which she was found were five Roman malt kilns, raising the possibility that the building was connected with the Roman brewing industry - perhaps Yorkshire's oldest brewery so far discovered. Guests at the launch party for the new museum exhibit will be invited to sample the new ale.
The story behind the new display is an interesting one. The fragments of plaster were excavated over 50 years ago by a Durham University student David Smith, in a rescue dig before firemen's houses were built just outside Malton's Roman fort. They were never fully studied at the time, and were kept in store in fragments. Meanwhile David Smith followed a career as Anglican clergyman. On his retirement in 1993 he resumed his interest in the plaster and began reconstructing it. The results of his work were published in the Yorkshire Archaeological Journal (Vol 72, 2000, 7-15). They showed that the plaster, found in the room containing Malton's famous Four Seasons mosaic, included at least two figures, one male and one female, and there were floral patterns and a pillar in the design.
Subsequent to the Reverend Smith's work the head of the female figure - the 'Malton Goddess', was chosen as a student conservation project in the laboratories of the Department of Archaeology, University of Durham. The face was restored and missing parts repainted by students Felicity Woor and Kim Borrowman under project supervisor Clare Hucklesby and course director Dr Chris Caple.
Announcing the new display Frank Wiggle, Chairman of the Museum Trustees, said today:
"We are delighted to welcome this very beautiful young lady to Malton Museum. She will be an important addition to the already rich displays on Roman Malton and should delight visitors to the museum for years to come."
Said brewery director Neil Suddaby:
"As Malton's local brewers we are amazed to find we are part of a 1600- year long brewing tradition in the town. This new ale was the least we could do to celebrate, and also to mark this marvellous find. We hope it helps to bring lots of visitors to Malton's gem of a museum"
NOTE TO EDITORS:
Malton Museum, Old Town Hall, Market Place, Malton, North Yorkshire YO17 7LP, Tel 01653 695136, is open Easter until October 30th annually, Monday to Saturday 10am to 4pm. Admission adults £1.50 Children and over 60s £1.00 Family (2+2) £4.00.
Suddaby's Ltd, the Malton Brewery, 12 Wheelgate, Malton, North Yorkshire YO17 7HP, brewers of Malton Goddess ale. Tel 01653 697580 or www.suddabys.co.uk
Briefing and photo opportunity
Friday 16th July 2004 at 11.00 at Malton Museum, Old Town Hall, Market Place, Malton
The Malton Goddess display and the new ale Malton Goddess ale will be available for inspection and sampling. Frank Wiggle, chairman of Malton Museum Foundation, and other trustees will be present.
Contact numbers for comment:
Frank Wiggle (Chairman of Malton Museum Foundation) 01653 695136
Peter Addyman (Trustee of Malton Museum Foundation) 01904 624311