Tomorrow Alex Betts, a 2009 Batesville High School graduate, will be standing at a museum door in England, welcoming his family (parents Bill and George Ann Betts and brothers Jairus, 19, and Arno, 14) to an exhibit he helped create.
“Diving into Durham: Hidden History Under Elvet Bridge” can be viewed June 7-Sept. 7 at the Palace Green Library, part of the Durham Castle/Cathedral area. Betts explains, “Durham Cathedral is an impressive and beautiful construction that began in 1093. The nearby castle was constructed as a Norman fortress around the same time. I believe UNESCO designated it a World Heritage Site because it is one of the best surviving examples of Norman architecture, and the cathedral houses the remains of three saints (St. Cuthbert, St. Oswald and St. Bede).”
The completely student-run exhibit explores the history of a local bridge, first built in the 1100s, as a center of trade, industry and daily life, according to the 22-year-old. “This story is told through artifacts that have fallen off the bridge over the centuries into the River Wear, which winds through Durham. The artifacts come from a massive collection of over 3,500 objects retrieved from the riverbed by a local underwater archaeologist, and range from an ancient Roman coin to a 2010 Blackberry phone.”
More glimpses of the exhibit are offered at www.divingintodurham.com/.
Betts is part of a team of eight students who are working on master’s degrees in museum and artefact (the British spelling of artifact) studies at the Durham University Department of Archaeology. They are responsible for all aspects of the exhibit, including research, curation and artifact care, exhibit design, public relations and promotion, education, budget and project management. Betts notes, “We have also had the invaluable help of our supervising professor and various museum staff along the way, from whom we’ve learned so much.”