Old King Coel,Conrad Mason, IDing, and back to school!

Hi all, 

Since I last wrote (it’s Scott by the way), I have been busy, busy, busy! I am:

  • working with the curators to create my own display case for our upcoming What’s in Store exhibition.
  • using my media knowledge to produce online learning resources for students to access.
  • starting to lead schools story tours of the Roman vaults.
  • now pretty good at identifying objects (particularly coins).
  • getting ready for a visit to my old primary school to deliver a fun Romans session.

What’s in Store

Old King Coel

Have you heard of Old King Coel? It seems like everybody has, except for me! Basically, Old King Coel was a merry old soul, and a merry old soul was he. Except, Old King Coel never actually existed. That didn’t stop King Henry VI claiming to be his descendant to help legitimise his reign, or Historia Regum Britanniae saying that Old King Coel was Saint Helena’s Father. I quickly found myself fascinated with this mythical King and decided that my What’s in Store display case will tell the story of Old King Coel’s significance in British history. To date, the case will include objects from Colchester’s famous Oyster Feast; plates; postcards; paintings; photographs from the 1909 Colchester pageant; hopefully a book entitled ‘Old King Coel Played in Goal’ (amazing!); and much more.

Online Learning Resources

conrad smaller portrait

Conrad Mason, born in Colchester, was a soldier who died in World War 1. Colchester Museums was fortunate enough to acquire Mason’s diaries, which I am currently in the process of digitalising for the Colchester + Ipswich Museums website. I am making six short films for this online exhibition, each dealing with a theme related to the War. A voice actor will read out extracts from Mason’s diaries, which I will compliment using images. Keep your eyes open for this one, it is very touching.

Story Tours

Excitingly, I can now give school tours. After greeting a class of children (and their teachers), I take my group down into the Castle Vaults, which is the foundation of the Roman Temple of Claudius. From there, I tell the story of the roman invasion of Britannia; the building of the Temple; life as a roman slave; and finally, Boudicca’s rebellion. During the tour, I ask the children to decide who won the initial invasion, the Romans or the Britons? I then divide the class into two (Romans on one side, Britons on the other). As their Centurion, I make my Roman soldiers stand to attention when I am addressing them and I dress one of my soldiers with a legionary helmet and shield; to the amusement of his or her friends. 

Identifying objects

Coins ID

Lastly, I have taken on the unofficial role of ‘coin-identification-man’. In May, I was able to identify over 60 coins, with a little help from Ben (Finds Liaison Officer) and Jess (Collections and Learning Curator). I now feel confident to ID most coins on my own, and I know what tell-tale signs to look for to help identify them. The array of coins given to us for identification is staggering, varying from Roman to Medieval, Arabic to British. I have even helped to distinguish convincing forgeries. Occasionally, something brought to us as a coin is not a coin at all, and instead, is a jetton or medal.  

Primary School

On Thursday 23 June I am visiting my old primary school to deliver three object handling sessions about the Romans. These required a lot of prep work and planning and I will be sure to write future posts about how it goes!

One last thing, I am also preparing to speak at Oxford’s Risk and Reward conference on Friday 10 June (which I will definitely write a post about).


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