A Timeline to Pass the Time

18/05/2020   |   Danielle Newman

On International Museum Day (May 18th) we want to both celebrate with an old friend and announce a new project.

For several years now, the Mersea Island Discovery Programme has enjoyed a warm collaboration with Mersea Museum, an independent museum established in 1976 which focuses on local coastal industries and heritage.

Our first collaboration with the museum involved the creation of an oral histories project, Searching Mersea, to help contextualise the recent find on the foreshore by volunteers. While the project is primarily an online map with audio it was also installed in Mersea Museum with associated artefacts to encourage visitors to understand the importance of social history in archaeology.

The discovery of a Bronze Age trackway in December 2016 on the Mersea foreshore again allowed for collaboration with the community. Local residents raised funds to conserve several of the timbers and Mersea Museum designed a new Bronze Age exhibition around them, with CITiZAN Project Discovery Officer Oliver Hutchinson assisting with interpretive text.

As with most things, the COVID 19 pandemic has forced both us and Mersea Museum to rethink our summer plans. The Bronze Age exhibition was intended to open this month, but the timbers remain at Historic England and Mersea Museum remains shut.  

However, this has provided an opportunity for CITiZAN and Mersea Museum to once again collaborate on a small virtual community project. While we can’t visit in person, the museum holds and incredible virtual archives and we suspect most people on the island have a photograph or two of local heritage and events. Once again going digital, we are pleased to announce Missing Mersea: A Community Timeline Project.



A screen capture from Missing Mersea: A community timeline project
A screen capture from Missing Mersea: A community timeline project

Our idea is threefold: To build on both our relationship with Mersea Museum and the community, to facilitate a non-academic, local perspective, chronological history of the island, and to allow us to carry on in some way as community archaeologists in these times. The goal is to create a digital timeline that weaves together the archaeology we work on, the archives of Mersea Museum, and your photographs and stories.

As you can see by our timeline, the project has only just begun. Do you have any old photographs or postcards of Mersea Island? Don’t have any photographs or postcards of Mersea Island? Anyone can help!! The process of submitting to the timeline should only take ten minutes of your time. We need an image, best known date, a brief description of the image, a link to any other information, and for you to pick a category for your entry: archaeology, oral history, archive, or other.

While we must stay digital for now, we hope of organize a digitization event in the near future to help add your stories in person. An offline version of our form is available for you to print out and fill in if you would prefer, just email to ask.

To add your memories, find out how to work using the Mersea Museum digital archive, or offer suggestions or comments please email Danielle Newman (dnewman@mola.org.uk).