Our team from Wessex Archaeology’s Sheffield office recently joined Sheffield Heritage Fair 2022 to explore with the public ‘What will happen to Sheffield’s heritage as the city transforms itself?’. Across 29th and 30th January, Wessex Archaeology’s Sheffield team helped shape this event into a chance to not only celebrate Sheffield’s past but innovatively imagine Sheffield’s future. Read on to hear how the Wessex Archaeology Sheffield team showcased our current work, sparked some intriguing conversations, and learnt how our local’s heritage can be woven into Wessex Archaeology’s work in 2022...

Natasha Bramall, Community Engagement Coordinator for Sheffield, reveals how the people of Sheffield had their say on what represents their city’s heritage:

“Wessex Archaeology has kicked off this year’s Community Engagement events calendar by joining around 40 organisations in showcasing Sheffield’s brilliant heritage at the Sheffield Heritage Fair. This annual event is a great way to find out more about the local area, support a heritage initiative or spark a new interest – sword dancing anyone?

This year the Wessex Archaeology stand focused on our Community Engagement Loan Boxes. We encouraged people to have a rummage through one of our Roman Loan Boxes and then focus their attention on a collection of industrial items. After exploring the artefacts, some relating to everyday life and others to Sheffield’s famous cutlery industry, we asked people to share their stories and memories of objects that represent Sheffield’s Industrial past. We asked people to think of something that we could add to our collection of industrial objects and write it down on the old trusted post-it note. We had some brilliant suggestions and are now on the lookout for a letterpress line of type, spinning top toy and a Torpedo bottle to add to our soon to be Industrial Loan Box!

We hope to see you at our next event, and you can find out more about our upcoming activities by keeping an eye on our events page. For now, I’ll leave you with some of our Heritage Fair highlights.”

Wessex Archaeology stand set up at Sheffield Heritage Fair 2022 Discussion with locals about our Loan Boxes at the Sheffield Heritage Fair 2022 Industrial era artefacts on display at Wessex Archaeology stand at Sheffield Heritage Fair 2022

Jasmine Porter, Finds Assistant Supervisor, gives an insight into the uniquely human stories emerging from Sheffield Heritage Fair 2022:

“The great thing about these events is that while sharing heritage with the community we will often hear amazing stories that we did not know about. During the Sheffield Heritage Fair we had a collection of industrial era artefacts on the table including items from the home, one such item was a broken pot of Dundee Marmalade. A lovely man approached our table and asked “Do you know why it is Dundee Marmalade?” I did not know why and listened as he told me how it came to be:

“In the 18th Century a storm raged, battering the coastline. During the storm a mysterious ship appeared in the port of Dundee, it had been blown off course and sought shelter from the high winds. The ship belonged to a Spanish merchant and was full to the brim of bitter oranges from Seville. A local man John Keiller saw this fruit and purchased the lot, however he soon discovered that the oranges were far too bitter to eat. Johns’ wife, Janet, in a bid to not waste money and food, utilised the bitter, not-so-fresh oranges by mixing them with sugar and bringing them to boil – creating Dundee Marmalade!”

I had often wondered how Dundee Marmalade came about as Scotland is not exactly known for its citrus fruits, now I know and so do you!”


Industrial era artefacts at Wessex Archaeology stand at Sheffield Heritage Fair 2022 Wessex Archaeology staff with Roman Loan Box and Industrial era artefacts at Sheffield Heritage Fair 2022

Finally, Catherine Douglas, Project Manager based in our Sheffield office, shares how local Sheffield heritage groups re-interpreted old traditions to commemorate the centenary of WW1:

“The Heritage Fair provided a unique opportunity to meet people from all walks of life, brought together by a mutual appreciation of the city we live in and the countryside we love to explore. Everyone had a story to tell. I was particularly impressed by a man who had spent many painstaking hours reconstructing a Roman oil lamp, with an intricate armoured gladiator carved into it, that had been discovered by the Porter Valley Trust.

I learnt about the Grenoside sword dancers and the traditional Yorkshire longsword, which has been danced in Sheffield since the 1800s. In 2009, some of the team ‘the Six Jolly Miners’ created a new dance to commemorate the centenary of WW1, and for this project renamed themselves ‘the Six Tommy Soldiers’. The team tried to capture a flavour of the soldiers' experiences through the dance, and they performed it at many community events to raise awareness of the centenary, and to assist in fund raising efforts. The dance is a tribute to the soldiers, especially the ones who lost their lives in the conflict.”