What lies beneath

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Have you ever wondered what happens to that penny that you drop that rolls away and slips between the cracks in the floorboards? Today's loss is tomorrow's history, and our Oak Bedroom project allows you to see Nunnington's history laid out underneath your feet in a remarkable time capsule.

The process is being undertaken by more and more National Trust places. Whole time capsules lie quite literally beneath all our feet as we walk around a historic house or Hall. What’s more, it is an evolving process – the coin that is dropped today and falls down the side of a skirting board or a ‘Do Not Touch’ sign that slips beneath a crack in some floorboards only adds to what somebody in the future will find.

This project, undertaken in the Oak Bedroom, has seen a section of oak floorboards being lifted and replaced with glass boards allowing visitors to see just how much history lies beneath their feet. The work in the Oak Bedroom was not the first time such work has been undertaken at Nunnington Hall but with the replacement of wooden floorboards for glass, this will be the first opportunity visitors will get to see the exciting objects that have been unearthed.

In the last ten years floorboards in the West Bedroom and nursery have been replaced. On each occasion there were five or six items that drew the eye – a sweet wrapper, a cigarette packet, a playing card. As the dust and debris was painstakingly sifted through, each room yielded in excess of 1500 individual items.

Visitor Services Manager Annabelle Coaten says:
'All the finds date to different periods giving essential clues as to how the room has been used over the decades... we get a truly authentic timeline of occupation of the room in question.'

Mark Newman, the Trust's territory archaeologist sums up his initial findings:
'Well over 450 objects were recovered; the majority of these were pins, over 200 of them...There was a remarkable wealth of ‘personal’ artefacts, including beads, part of an ear ring and a horn comb. There was also a large number of cloth fragments of a variety of different sorts, including half a dozen different silks. One matched a really nice find - a metal lace chape with the pale blue ribbon still present.'

Nunnington Hall’s complex social history and relatively modest status has allowed an intriguing accumulation of debris and while it is not yet possible to date the finds or fully understand the stories they tell continuing research should reveal a fascinating tale.