Sir Tony Robinson celebrates The Beacon’s double launch

By Rachael Grealish.

SIR Tony Robinson had a cunning plan to visit West Cumbria and celebrate a museum double launch event.

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The former Blackadder and Time Team star was in Whitehaven on Saturday September 23, to formally open The Beacon’s new £1.2 million conference facility, The Beacon Portal, and to cut the ribbon at its new feature exhibition, Gladiators: A Cemetery of Secrets.

Television legend, Sir Tony, said he was ‘delighted’ to be the event’s guest as he spent the afternoon meeting fans, signing autographs and even delivered two talks.

He said: “I love Cumbria, it’s such a wonderful place and I am a huge fan of The Beacon – it’s exactly what it should be: a beacon for history and information in this area.

“The new building is tremendous addition, modern and it’s wonderful to be invited to not only open that, but the new exhibition.”

Sir Tony gave two, sold-out, talks where he shared his passion for history and archaeology, explaining how the Romans occupied the North of England.

He said: “The Roman occupation in the North of England is so fascinating and I think that’s why it is so important to share that information. The exhibition is fantastic, informative and looks splendid.

“This exhibition shows a wonderful collaboration between the North West of England and York, and you can see a fantastic relationship building there.”

Sir Tony was joined by Copeland Mayor Mike Starkie for the unveiling of a plaque at the Portal and the ribbon-cutting to launch Gladiators.

Mr Starkie said: “It was a pleasure to welcome Sir Tony to The Beacon and show to him, and all our visitors today, why The Beacon and its new Portal are among the jewels in Copeland’s crown.

“None of this would have been possible without the support of our funders and the dedication of The Beacon and Copeland Council staff, to whom I extend my thanks today.”

Also launching Gladiators and giving a talk was David Jennings, Chief Executive of the exhibit’s creators Jorvik – which worked with The Beacon to bring the attraction to Whitehaven.

He said: “We want the exhibit to make people think and wonder, we want the visitors of the exhibition to be the archeologist and come up with their own theories of what really happened.”

Gladiators features six sets of human remains alongside other Roman pieces and artefacts.

The remains of the men date from the early second century and into the fourth century AD.

The exhibition explores the skeletal remains of men who were decapitated and buried in York – the story explored where they came from, how they died, and theories why, the rest if for you to work out.

The Beacon’s exhibition, Gladiators: A Cemetery of Secrets runs until December 3.