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What is there to see? (permanent exhibitions)

The main display cases in Dartford Borough Museum run anti-clockwise around the gallery and follow the chronological story of the Borough of Dartford as revealed by archaeology, with additional social history items for more recent periods:

Stone Age

This contains information on the Palaeolithic (Old Stone Age), Mesolithic (Middle Stone Age) and Neolithic (New Stone Age) periods. The Palaeolithic material relates to the important local site of Barnfield Pit, Swanscombe, where the 400,000 year old Swanscombe Skull was discovered in three pieces in 1935, 1936 and 1955. A cast of the skull is on display, along with actual flint tools and animal remains from the period. The other material in the case includes Mesolithic flint tools, some known as Thames Picks, and polished Neolithic flint axes.

Bronze Age – Iron Age

This includes the Leyton Cross Bronze Age Hoard, consisting of two axe-heads, a knife blade and a razor. Other Bronze Age tools and weapons are also on show. The Iron Age is covered by pottery, brooches and iron tools.

Roman Kitchen

This is arranged in the style of the work surface of a Roman kitchen, using a mixture of replica food and tools together with real Roman pottery and glassware.

Roman Life

This features a variety of everyday objects such as oil lamps, brooches and weights found on local sites.

Anglo-Saxon

This shows the variety of jewellery, brooches and bead necklaces, which were found on the 5th-7th century cemetery site at Riseley.

Darenth Bowl

This is the finest moulded glass vessel of 5th century date in England, and the only bowl in the country with a Christian Chi-Rho monogram and inscription. It was probably made in Belgium c. AD 450 although it was discovered in a 6th century pagan grave in what is now Darenth Country Park. (Unfortunately the Darenth Bowl is not currently on display but will return soon).  

Norman

This consists of a model showing the building of Holy Trinity Church c.1080. In addition, there is also a description of what Dartford (or Tarentefort) was like at the time of the Domesday Book.

Medieval

This features, amongst other things, medieval pottery, stonework, a lead seal matrix and a document dated 1474 which relates to Dartford Priory.

Kerr's Shop

This is a reconstruction of a draper's shop which once existed in the High Street. The shop counter, storage cabinet and cash register are all original but the most important, and most popular, part of the display is the overhead cash railway. This is an ingenious device which was used for catapulting cash containers along wires from one end of the shop to the other.

Dartford Warbler

A display on the small bird which was first discovered and recorded in the vicinity of the town by Dr John Latham in 1773. It is one of only two species of bird to be named after a British town.

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