Spotlight On: Artworks and Artefacts

Find out more about the hidden gems within Hull’s most vibrant museums and galleries with Spotlight On. From one week to the next we’ll showcase artworks and artefacts to marvel at, keeping you intrigued in the UK City of Culture 2017.


In 1836 a group of labourers made an astonishing discovery at Roos Carr, near Withernsea, East Yorkshire. To their surprise they unearthed a substantial collection of well-preserved wooden artefacts, including a serpent-headed boat, a wooden box, several “warrior” figures and various other decaying objects.

Four figures, the boat and various other accessories found at Roos Carr were given to the Hull Literary and Philosophical Society and later became part of Hull Museums collections. A fifth figure was acquired in 1902, as one of the men present at the time of discovery had given one of the “ancient dolls” to his daughter to play with!

The Roos Carr Figures have continued to intrigue us ever since they were uncovered. At various times, the artefacts been suggested to represent Noah, Viking invaders, gods and ancestral figures. We now know the figures are about 2,600 years old, placing them from the Late Bronze Age or Early Iron Age!

The figures have piercing quartzite eyes, are carved from yew wood and stand 35-41cm tall. Modern examination has established that detachable pieces of curved wood, previously considered to be short arms, fit perfectly into another hole – enabling the figures to be either male or female.

Only nine other comparable figures have been found across the UK and Ireland, ranging in date from 2500 BC to 148 BC.

Join Hull Museums at the Festival of Archaeology in the city’s Museums’ Quarter on 22 July 2017 to find out more about prehistoric Yorkshire.