I visited Weston Park Museum recently to view the Sheffield Castle Revealed exhibition.
Although this is included in the museum’s brochure and on its website, there were no signs directing visitors to it and I had to ask an attendant where it was.
He took me to the single display case housing the exhibition. He apologised for the paucity of exhibits but explained that they hadn’t had time to put more on display. Having seen what was already there, I was inclined to suggest they didn’t bother.
Almost half the artefacts post-date the castle, some by around 200 years. They include clay pipes from the 1750s similar to ones that we dug up on waste ground in my schooldays. There is also a crucifix which is undated and only appears to have been included in the exhibition to add a spurious religious dimension.
What connection do these have with the castle and its occupants? Even the objects contemporaneous with the castle could have been found at any other site of the period and tell us nothing we couldn’t have deduced from the dates the castle was occupied.
I doubt if it is a coincidence that the exhibition has opened at the same time as the launch of the Friends of Sheffield Castle and the closure of Castle Market. If the people behind it think it will whet our appetites for what excavations might reveal they are deluded.