How historic alabaster would have look like years ago

The Flawford Virgin

Go to Nottingham City Museums

Chris Pickup, a doctoral researcher from Nottingham Trent University, brought the Flawford Virgin back to its former glory using technology.

The alabaster (NCM 1908-146) is one of the three figures found at Flawford village in 1779, on display at the Early Nottingham Craft Gallery.


During the winter of 2017, researchers from Nottingham Trent University worked with curators from Nottingham City Museums and set up a mobile lab to unravel some of the mysteries surrounding the sculpture. Documentation from the time when the alabasters were sculpted tells us that the figures were brightly-painted, with highlights in gold.

Exciting discoveries came when Nottingham Trent University’s ISAAC Lab team investigated the alabaster. A moveable light technique enabled an assessment of the damage to the figure, shedding light on what may have happened during its long and mysterious history. Their investigation culminated in the use of visible reflectance spectroscopy and XRF analysis to reveal the figure’s original colours.

The research, which helped inform a 10-minute video on the history of this incredible collection item, is now available to view in full here:

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