The unexpected March snow has done nothing to deter the Museum team getting out on the road. Early on Sunday morning, as the snow started to swirl, Education and Geology staff packed up the van and set off to Combe Mill.
The Mill is the original sawmill and workshop of the old Blenheim Palace Estate and features an enormous water wheel and several steam engines. Their monthly Combe Mill in Steam is an exciting day out where visitors can see a working blacksmith’s forge and lots of traditional machines and crafts.
When we arrived, it was far too cold to pitch up our tent, so the mill staff took pity on us and let us set up in their lovely Pattern Room. The workshop was filled with welcoming aromas of sawdust, oil and smoke from the smithy. The perfect place to spend a snowy day. Here’s Janet making herself at home.
Because Oxfordshire is a brilliant place to look for fossils, we took along some fascinating local fossils for visitors to see and touch. Here’s Carolyn from Geology showing these volunteers some gems from the collection, including a pterosaur wing bone, an enormous cetiosaurus vertebra and an ancient shark’s tooth. Visitors were amazed that these discoveries were made right on their doorstep!
Alongside that, families made their own museum-quality casts of similar fossils. The footprint of Oxfordshire’s famous Megalosaurus, a dinosaur first found just up the road in Stonesfield, was as popular as ever.
Though the impressive Combe Mill team seemed completely undaunted by the freezing temperatures and heavy snow, sadly the event didn’t receive its usual crowds of visitors. However, those who battled the ‘spring’ weather were rewarded with warmth, a hearty welcome and some fascinating experiences. Here’s Sammy, from Woodstock, in the blacksmith’s forge with volunteer Amy. He made his own poker to take home.
We all really enjoyed the opportunity to meet such enthusiastic, interesting and interested visitors and volunteers.To finish off, here’s our view from the Pattern Room window. Can you believe this is March?!
Rachel Parle, Education Officer