Up close and personal

The latest visit to York saw Steph and Paul get closer to the Ivory Bangle Lady.

Both Stephany and I went up to York to plan out the nitty-gritty for the new project and came face-to-face with the Ivory Bangle Lady – quite literally. Whilst this is nothing unusual for Stephany, who really shows such affection for the remains she studies, I was a little more perturbed by being so close to someone who lived and died over 1,600 years ago.

Paul Davies holding the skull of the Ivory Bangle Lady
Over the last coupleof months I have studied the stories surrounding the Ivory Bangle Lady, watched videos of the people who discovered her and collected endless photos of both her remains and the objects she was buried with –  but holding her skull in my hands really made everything real. She was a real person, a woman who lived in a time so different to mine and yet I can have this contact with her and find out so much about her through the research. 

It was a privilege for me to hold her, and one which visitors to the museum won't get to replicate. However, our project is about trying to get visitors to make the connection to her life and consider how it compares to their own and, without the work from archaeologists, we wouldn't know anything about this fascinating lady.

Dr Stephany Leach stood next to a sarcophagus
Stephany also took the opportunity to go out into the grounds of the Yorkshire Museum to hunt out which was her sarcophagus. Unfortunately, when she was found (in 1901) the sarcophagus was placed with many others and it has never been reunited with her. Stephany had many measurements and drawings, which could be pieced together to identify which was hers. 

Through the research I have conducted for this project one thing I keep coming across is the criticism of archaeologists being disrespectful for the remains they are studying. I have to say that Stephany, Chris and the team at the Yorkshire Museum show the utmost respect and are trying to do everything to promote research with respect. As part of this project the Ivory Bangle Lady will be reunited with her burial goods, her full remains and the sarcophagus she was buried with. Together they will allow visitors to the museum to get a deeper connection with a time people normally ever only experience through television or film.