History Begins Our Story...
In 1888, workmen digging for clay to make brick and tiles came across boat timbers preserved in the clay on Island Carr in Brigg, between the old and new Rivers Ancholme. The 'sewn-together' plank boat was surveyed by the Lincoln County Chartered engineer James Thropp, and then after having one very small section removed, the rest was reburied to preserve it again in the clay.
After EV Wright, who had previously excavated remains of prehistoric boats at North Ferriby, became a Trustee of the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich, he encouraged the museum to find and excavate what has become known as the 'Brigg Raft'. Using James Thropp’s treasure map, the boat was re-located in 1973 and excavated in 1974 under the guidance of Professor Sean McGrail.
Timbers were subsequently radiocarbon dated to 800BC - which highlighted further the artefacts historical importance. The Raft was taken to Greenwich for necessary conservation and preservation and then sadly was placed into storage - cloaked in wax, it lay in perpetual slumber.
With the dawn of the 21st century, an idea was put forward to bring the 'Brigg Raft' back to its rightful home by building a bespoke Heritage Centre around this special and significantly large artefact – something for which the people of Brigg and the Ancholme Valley had long hoped for.
Negotiations were held in 2011 between North Lincolnshire Council Museum Service and the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich for its welcome return. Fundamental to the success of these negotiations was the provision of a suitable building to house the Raft and the ability for the public to have access. The first floor of the Angel (a former coaching inn dating back to the 16th century, but more recently used as council offices) situated in Brigg's Market Place, had at that time, become available and so...the Brigg Heritage Centre became a reality.
The Heritage Centre opened to the public in June 2012 with one permanent collection gallery – which charted the history of the Ancholme Valley from the Prehistoric through to the medieval period. Prior to going on display, the Raft was carefully transported to York Archaeological Trust to be cleaned of the preserving wax. Therefore, the showpiece did not make an appearance in 2012 and kept the public in eager anticipation - being finally unveiled in the Spring of 2013 – taking pride of place in Gallery 1.
With the Raft in situ, the Heritage Centre was able to embark on phase two and Gallery 2's permanent collection, steering visitors through the more recent 'sands of time' from the Tudor period through to the 20th Century. Gallery 2 opened in November 2014, along with a Reference Library (in the Period Room) and two Education Rooms cum multi-functional spaces (used for POP-UP exhibitions, craft workshops, talks, training and meetings). The Brigg Heritage Centre now occupies the whole of the 1st floor of the Angel building.
In April 2014, North Lincolnshire Council handed over responsibility of running and financing Brigg Heritage Centre to the Ancholme Valley Heritage Trust Ltd (AVHT), who also became the custodians of the The Buttercross (upper level) - so that income generated from room lets and licensed wedding/civil ceremonies would contribute to the sustainability and secured future of two iconic landmarks within the historic town of Brigg. To this day the AVHT strives to bring exciting POP-UP exhibitions, events and updates to the Heritage Centre.
The Ancholme Valley Heritage Trust is a charity with one permanent full-time member of staff, supported by dedicated trustees and volunteers who run the Brigg Heritage Centre. Your help and financial support is vital to our future sustainability.
Brigg Heritage Centre looks forward to welcoming you soon!