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The Amazing Upjohns

The founder of what grew into a multi-national pharmaceutical corporation, the first President of the American Institute of Architects, and the executioner of Australian outlaw Ned Kelly: all share the surname Upjohn and similar humble origins in early nineteenth century Shaftesbury. Archivist and Librarian Ray Simpson has created a fascinating display on Shaftesbury-born William and Richard Upjohn, who emigrated within months of each other to the United States and who with their offspring achieved distinction in the fields of pharmacy and architecture. Elijah Upjohn, on the other hand, was transported to Australia as a petty criminal aged 16. His life of crime continued until 1880 when, as a prisoner in Melbourne Gaol, he volunteered to deputise for the regular hangman and conduct the execution of the notorious Ned Kelly. The story of the Amazing Upjohns is free to view outside Gold Hill Museum Library.

Ciorstaidh Trevarthen

Expert Declares Museum’s Oldest Object Is Even Older

An unexpected result of the Saturday 14 July session at Gold Hill Museum with Ciorstaidh Trevarthen, Finds Liaison Officer for Dorset and Somerset (above), was the significant re-dating of what was already thought to be the Museum’s oldest artefact. A hand-axe, currently labelled as a 200,000 year old Acheulean specimen, appears to be considerably older, with a date range of 500,000 to 250,000 BCE. Ciorstaidh advised that it was a particularly good example, finely made by a species of human predating Homo sapiens. It was found on Castle Hill, Shaftesbury, and may have belonged to one of the earliest Shastonians.

The morning linked in with the Museum’s Found Underground exhibition, where visitors are able to handle and identify mystery objects. With her wealth of knowledge and experience, Ciorstaidh was able to shed light on garden finds brought in by members of the public including pottery, metal and glass objects, and a ring which was definitely not from a Christmas cracker! She also identified 15th century buckles and a knife end, a medieval thimble and a small piece of multi-coloured Roman glass.