BID’s ‘Window on the Past’ gives shoppers glimpse of medieval medical treatments

Bethany Allen, Harrogate BID Business and Marketing Executive, left, and Sarah Checkland, The JORVIK Group of Attractions Exhibitions Manager, hold two uroscopy flasks which will feature in the Window on the Past pop-up museum

Medical treatments in medieval times will be put under the public microscope this April at an interactive pop-up museum in Harrogate town centre.

Being staged within Victoria Shopping Centre, the Window on the Past will give shoppers a chance to compare modern cures and living conditions with those from almost a thousand years ago.

In a partnership between Harrogate Business Improvement District (BID) and The JORVIK Group of Attractions, this temporary glimpse into history will feature archaeological finds, replica objects, scenic elements and more.

The display also considers elements of medieval life in the Harrogate district, such as where locals may have gone to seek medical help, and whether people were aware of the benefits of clean water even before Harrogate’s springs were discovered.

Visitors can explore a wealth of information online and consider the display’s themes in more detail. Reconstructions, videos and an exclusive short film, written by Terry Deary – author of the Horrible Histories series – entitled A Touch of Plague, can all be accessed via QR codes.

Online viewers can also learn more about disease and illness through a facial reconstruction of a skeleton found in York, showing signs of leprosy, helping the public understand how this individual may have looked as the disease developed.

Extra information about medieval Harrogate and the artefacts on display can also be accessed online – plus find out if your medieval cure would have worked in our fun activity.

Harrogate BID Manager Matthew Chapman said: “We are really excited to be bringing Window on the Past to Harrogate this April, which will give families another great reason to come into town during the Easter holidays.

“This pop-up museum has been put created and curated by the team at The JORVIK Group of Attractions, and is very much an interactive experience, one that will entertain as well as educate.

Our Window on the Past takes visitors back in time to an era where often gruesome cures were administered in medieval England by medical practitioners – including barber-surgeons, apothecaries, ‘cunning women’, religious figures and physicians.”

Sarah Maltby, Director of Attractions for York Archaeological Trust, the owners and operators of The JORVIK Group, said: “Through artefacts, replica objects and digital content, Health and Healing in Medieval England invites passers-by to consider and interpret the past with modern topics in mind such as health and wellbeing.

“Our Windows on the Past displays are all about enhancing town centres by finding different ways to bring a new lease of life to unused spaces.”

Harrogate BID’s Window on the Past is being held within Victoria Shopping Centre from Friday, April 1 until Sunday, May 1, 2022.

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