Swaffham centenary campaign aims to tell 'full story' of Howard Carter
Organisers of a new history project in Swaffham say they want to “set the record straight” about one of the town’s most famous sons.
The Carter 22 programme, which was launched at the weekend, will mark the centenary of Howard Carter’s discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb with events throughout this year.
The archaeologist has become a controversial figure, amid claims by some experts that he removed treasures from the site illegally and hampered future research by disturbing the king’s burial chamber.
But project leaders believe the full story of the man, whose family links to Swaffham to the late 18th century, has not yet been told.
One of the displays on show at Saturday’s launch event in the St Peter and St Paul church said his discovery of the Boy Pharoah’s burial chamber was “the result of many years of experience and hard work”.
It went on: “Howard was the country’s most famous archaeologist yet was never honoured by either academia or government.
“Carter 22 attempts to set the record straight and accord him the recognition he finally deserves.”
The centenary project is being led by a cultural consortium headed by heritage groups and civic leaders.
And project lead Dr Sue Gattuso was encouraged by the public’s response so far.
She said: “The launch was very successful and we were busy all morning answering questions and receiving ideas and offers of help and support.
“Many people commented on the atmosphere in the church and how good it was to see it used again as a gathering place.”
Although details of the celebration programme are still being finalised, the plans do include a festival scheduled for September, the creation of a community mosaic and an archaeological excavation of the Campingland, which is thought to have been left unploughed since it was gifted to the town in the 15th century.
The project has already been given a £36,000 Historic England grant.
And volunteers at the town’s museum have also been remodelling its Carter Gallery, with separate funding from Swaffham Heritage, Friends of Swaffham Heritage and the town council, ahead of an opening event on February 12.
Dr Gattuso said: “Visitors can learn about Howard’s family; his journey as an artist and archaeologist in Egypt and glimpse a reconstruction of his first sight of the inside of the tomb.
“There are activities for children and facts and fictions about Howard and his discovery for visitors to ponder.”
Anyone who is interested in getting involved with the Carter 22 project should email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.