Temporary Exhibitions 2020

Saturday 11th April - Sunday 31st May - ON-LINE

A Cabinet of Curiosities: The weird and wonderful in the Museum's collections 

A virtual tour around some of the stranger objects that can be found in the Museum's reserve collections. 

Saturday 18th July - Monday 31st August

Treasures of the Senhouse Roman Museum - postponed to 2021

The idea of a treasure means different things to different people. This exhibition spotlights objects that are special for someone. Anyone can nominate their favourite object for this exhibition. Images of a selection of objects will be posted on the Museum's Facebook page, Twitter feed and on the Gallery page of this website from 1st June onwards. Download the form to nominate an object.

Spotlight exhibition nomination form.pdf

Saturday 24th October - Sunday 20th December

Out and About with Percy Kelly

An exhibition of sketches by local artist Percy Kelly from the Museum's reserve collections

Events may be subject to change  


 Cabinet of Curiosities - 11th April to 31st May

The weird and wonderful in the Museum's collections 

A virtual tour around some of the stranger objects that can be found in the Museum's reserve collections. 

Welcome to our virtual exhibition 

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 Every day we will be adding a new object to the exhibition. We are starting with something that may be familiar to anyone who has visited the Museum. 


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The Senhouse Achievement of Arms, 1726

Displayed over the doors into the Main Gallery the Achievement of Arms was carved from a single piece of red sandstone. It was commissioned by Humphrey Senhouse I from Mr Smith the stonecarver in 1726. Mr Smith was paid three pounds and five shillings for the work. It was painted by Mattias Read, who was paid nine pounds and five shillings.

The achievement celebrates the significant connections the family made through marriage. On completion it was mounted at first floor level on the southeast elevation of the Medieval tower at Netherhall.

Featured on the achievement are the arms of the following families: Eaglesfield, Ponsonby of Haile, Blennerhasset of Flimby, Skelton of Armathwaite, Wharton of Gillingwood, Hudleston of Hutton John and Kirkby of Ashlack. The achievement is surmounted by a parrot or Popinjay. Beneath a lion's mask is the motto Vae victis (Let the vanquished beware).

The massive stone was removed from the tower when Netherhall was extended. It was then displayed in the portico of the house with the majority of the Netherhall Collection of Roman altars and sculpture. When the collection moved to the Senhouse Roman Museum the achievement was mounted above the double doors leading into the Main Gallery. Following conservation the original paint applied by Mathias Read was revealed. 

The stone is 1.22m high x 0.91m wide and weighs just over 203kg


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Fragments of a World War II bomb

During World War II, following an air raid on Glasgow, one of the returning German bombers dropped its remaining bombs over the Solway Firth and Maryport. The bombs dropped in areas of the town including Well Lane and the British School on the Sea Brows. These fragments were recovered the following day and kept by a local family. They were given to the Museum by Mary Jackson. A war-time evacuee's account, which includes his memory of the raid, can be found in the BBC's People's War archive at:



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 Iron nails from Inchtuthil

Inchtuthil is a Roman legionary fortress overlooking the River Tay in Perth and Kinross, Scotland (known as Caledonia to the Romans). The fort was built in AD 82 or 83 as an advanced headquarters for the Agricolian forces. It was occupied by Legio XX Valeria Victrix and covered an area of 53 acres.

When the fortress was excavated in the 1950s and 1960s by Richmond and St. Joseph, a large pit was discovered containing over 875,000 complete iron nails, in total weighing seven tons. 

The deposit of nails is believed to be the result of the legionaries demolishing the newly-built fort before abandoning it. The nails may have been buried to avoid them being used by the enemy.

Many of the nails were sent to museums as a gift and the rest sold to the public.

Building inscriptions associated with Legio XX Valeria Victrix appear on stones in the museum's collection. 


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Decorated bone inlay

A fragment of decorated animal bone inlay from a funeral bier. The bier was a type of bed or stretcher that carried the body at a Roman funeral. During a cremation funeral the body would be burnt on a pyre accompanied by accessory vessels containing food and drink. This fragment was discovered in the remains of a funeral pyre with the carbonised remains of the bier, 2000 years later.

This piece of inlay is one of several recovered from the same location. 

1.5cm x 0.5cm


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Hallway tiles from Netherhall

Victorian ceramic tiles - a section lifted from the hallway at Netherhall after the house was demolished. 

Netherhall was the residence of the Senhouse family. The earliest part of the house dates back to the 14th century and is the only part of the house remaining above ground. The house was remodelled and extended several times by the Senhouse family until it was abandoned in the 1950s. A fire in the 1970s resulted a controlled demolition. 

This section of tiles from the hallway were gifted to the Museum over twenty years ago for a temporary exhibition about the Senhouse family. The tiles remained in the store room since then. During a recent inventory of the store room they were an exciting discovery. The Museum holds a very small collection of objects associated with the Senhouse family. 

Given to the Museum by Kathleen Wallace


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Egyptian Shabti

The Museum's collections include a small Egyptian collection. This collection was acquired for the Museum by Mary Burkett of Isel Hall and originally came from Isel Vicarage. The collection consists of Egyptian, Greek, Prehistoric, Roman and Medieval objects and is believed to have belonged to an antiquarian Vicar. The collection was discovered during renovation work at the Vicarage.

A shabti is a funerary figurine used in ancient Egyptian tombs that would have been left among the grave goods. They represented servants accompanying the deceased into the underworld. These servants would carry out the tasks and manual work required by the gods instead of the deceased. 

They usually have inscriptions in hieroglyphs on their legs. These inscriptions talk about their readiness to carry out manual work instead of the deceased and include the name of the dead. This shabti is in the form of a mummy.

Most shabtis are small and were produced in quantity. Because they were produced in such quantity they are relatively common in museums.



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 Fragment of timber from a ship

This a real curiosity from the Netherhall Collection. It came to the Museum when it first opened and is on loan from the Senhouse family. 

The tunnels in the wood are caused by a species of Teredo navalis, the naval shipworm. The Teredo worm is found in salt water and resembles a worm with a small shell at one end, which it uses for boring through wood. It will tunnel into any submerged wood and can be a major cause of damage to the hulls of wooden boats. The resulting tunnels can be up to 1cm in diameter and 60cm long.

Teredo worm caused huge damage to any timber submerged in sea water  to the extent that wooden piers and harbours would become unsafe. During a refit a ship could have significant sections of its hull replaced due to the resulting damage. In the 18th century the Royal Navy resorted to covering the bottom of its ships in copper in an attempt to prevent the damage caused by shipworm. Other preventatives tried included carbonization (burning the outer layer of the hull) and applying creosote.

We do not know why this piece of wood is in the Netherhall Collection. Until the early 20th century Maryport was known for its shipbuilding industry and would have seen many ships being repaired and refitted. Maybe Mr. Senhouse acquired it as a curiosity after it was removed from a ship undergoing repairs. 


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Dearham pottery

A selection of pottery sherds recovered from Pottery Park, Dearham. The pottery produced slip decorated brown earthenware.

A pottery was built by Aaron Wedgwood at Whistling Syke in 1708. His brother, Jonathan Wedgwood, established Dearham Pottery on the site now known as Pottery Park. This pottery continued to operate until the early 19th century. The road connecting Dearham Pottery to Central Road was known as Wedgwood Road. 

Whistling Syke Pottery was dismantled to allow for opencast mining south of Craika Road. 

Further information about Dearham can be found at http://dearham.wordpress.com

The collection of pottery from Dearham Pottery was given to the Museum by Denise Crellin on behalf of the Dearham Local History Group.


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Model of a pottery kiln

This is not strictly an object from the collection but it is a curiosity. It is a small model, about 30cm long, of a Roman pottery kiln. The model was made by potter Graham Taylor of Potted History and contains mini Roman ceramics including mortaria, cooking jars, lamps and amphora. Graham gave the kiln to the museum as a demonstration piece during one of his many living history visits. The museum has a long association with Graham and his visits included a two day project to set up and fire a temporary kiln in the museum grounds (see below).

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Graham Taylor firing a temporary kiln in the museum grounds

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The results revealed the following day


Miniatures of Elizabeth and William Senhouse

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I think this pair have fallen out!

A pair of silhouettes of William Senhouse (1741-1800) and his wife Elizabeth, nee Wood (1755-1834). 

William is wearing a coat and a pigtail wig and Elizabeth is wearing a gauze ruff and a frill-trimmed bonnet.

The miniatures were painted on plaster and bronzed, in gilt-mounted rectangular papier-mache frames. The reverse bear broken trade labels. They were purchased from a Bonhams auction of fine portrait miniatures in 2011 by Mrs. Joan Christie, an American relative of a local family. Mrs. Christie very kindly donated the miniatures to the Museum for the enjoyment of its visitors.

William was a midshipman in the navy from 1755 to 1769, first seeing service in the French and Indian wars and then stationed in Boston. In 1770 he was appointed to the customs service in the West Indies through the influence of Sir James Lowther. From 1771 to 1799 he lived in Barbados except for short visits to other islands and several trips to England. In 1772 he married Elizabeth Samson Wood, daughter and heiress of a well-to-do planter of Barbados. They had eight sons and three daughters.

Plaster cast of a sculpture 

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Making plaster casts of sculptures and inscriptions was popular with antiquarians during the 19th century. This is a cast of a small sculpture believed to be a native horned god discovered at Beckfoot by Joseph Robinson. Robinson excavated the previously unknown Roman fort at Beckfoot in 1879 with his Maryport friend Thomas Carey. A label on the reverse of the cast says 'The original of this cast was found in the Roman camp of Beckfoot during excavations completed by Joseph Robinson …. Thomas Carey, 1879'. 

The original sculpture was later photographed with a number of objects recovered by Robinson and Carey.

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The plaster cast was discovered by Peter Greggains and given to the Museum in 2012.