One of the most interesting challenges I’ve faced in gathering exhibits for the new Ancient Worlds galleries took place recently when I visited the Manchester Cathedral. Sam, the Senior Conservator at the Manchester Museum, and I went over to see some wonderful leather from Medieval Manchester which we’d like to borrow for the new displays. It was slightly unnerving to be told when we got there that we’d have to go down into the crypt where finds were stored. It took two of the cathedral staff to lift the cover over the entrance to the crypt. It reminded me of the scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark where Harrison Ford is thrown into an ancient Egyptian temple full of snakes. As it turned out it was a bit of a struggle to get through the narrow hatch and climb down a short wooden ladder into the crypt but once down there it wasn’t too bad. The boxes of finds were easily accessible and there was electric lighting. It is sometimes said the Indiana Jones films give a completely fanciful impression of the work of a museum archaeologist but in this case for me they were perhaps just a little too close to reality! Oh and we did select some really wonderful pieces of Medieval leather as loans for the new displays including a decorated scabbard.