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Hidden Stories from the River Wear

Exploring 1000 years of Durham history.

This exciting new online exhibition explores the collection of Gary Bankhead, an underwater archaeologist. Since 2007, Gary has been diving under Elvet Bridge in Durham, gathering over 13,500 objects dating from as early as the 12th century! In 2008, Gary created the ‘Dive into Durham’ project, which aimed to research and catalogue the River Wear collection.

Explore a small selection of Gary’s objects up close alongside interviews with Gary himself and beautiful illustrations which help to bring the collection and their stories to life. Ranging from from Medieval pilgrim badges to Victorian dentures, the objects found in the River Wear bring to light the stories of romance, religion, toys lost through time and artefacts that are weird and wonderful.

This exhibition has been curated by MA Museum and Artefact students from Durham University. Working closely with Gary Bankhead, they have explored hundreds of objects and revealed hidden stories and objects which dive deeper into Durham’s past.

Explore this remarkable collection by clicking the link below:

Hidden Stories from the River Wear

Riddle Tour
Riddle Tour

River Wear Riddle Tour

Are you eager to try a new, exciting outdoor activity with your kids? Are you perhaps a visitor, looking to have a fun tour of around Durham's beautiful river?

In either case, the River Wear Riddle Tour is just the thing you are looking for. This activity will take you on a fascinating walk around the city, highlighting things you may have never noticed before, even as a someone who might have lived in or near Durham for years.

Our tour is filled with fun activities and tricky riddles, suitable for both you and our little friends. So, waste no time: download our worksheets and our tour map (you can even print them, if you wish), and start from the famous Elvet Bridge. You can share your experience with us on either Instagram or Facebook at @archaeology.museum.durham, or tweet us in @dumuseums. Make sure to use the hashtag #HiddenStoriesFromTheRiverWear.

Gary Bankhead Mascot
Gary Bankhead Mascot

For Teachers

Explores the collection of Gary Bankhead, an underwater archaeologist two downloadable resource packs for teachers designed for Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2. Our mascot, a mini Gary Bankhead, will guide you and your pupils through this pack, offering helpful hints and tips.

Gary Bankhead Mascot
Gary Bankhead Mascot

For Families

Download these discover at-home activities for families linked to our exhibition. Meet Gary, our diver mascot, who will guide you through the activities. Check out our online exhibition first and then recreate some of our objects using this pack.