Category Photos: the back story

Archaeology and Animals – The Second Temple of Hera, Paestum*

The celebrated Second Temple of Hera, built in the 5th century BC at the Greek colony at Paestum, Italy, is the cover image for our 2018 calendar. Mis-identified as the Temple of Poseidon on our lantern slide, the temple was one of several impressive structures within the Greek colonial city. It now stands within the […]

From horse power to horsepower

This evocative image of a London horse-drawn bus standing in front of a motorised bus comes from a collection of glass plate negatives donated to our archive. This is the 48 service from Cambridge Road to Earls Court Road, according to the sign on the side: But when was it taken? We thought that horse-drawn and […]

We Get By with a Little Help from Our Friends

One of the delights of being part of the University of Oxford is discovering the sheer breadth as well as the depth of the collective knowledge of individuals here. We were recently reminded how great this range is when we came across this image in the HEIR Project archive from the Plant Science Collection of the Radcliffe […]

Comparing the past and the present: a room full of hypocaust pillars

This is an image from the Institute of Archaeology’s lantern slide collection of the Roman Villa at Chedworth, Gloucestershire. This lantern slide was made and sold by local commercial photographer Henry Taunt. Taunt (1842-1922) mainly photographed in Oxfordshire and the Thames Valley, and was a pioneer in both landscape and archaeological photography. HEIRtagger Martin Rush […]

A brief visual history of…

…the public convenience at York’s Bootham Bar. When most people look at images like  this one: …they see the towers of the fine cathedral at York, the impressive gate of the medieval city wall, or maybe their eye is caught by the posters advertising an ‘overcoat depot’ or the ‘York Herald – Daily’. HEIRtaggers are […]

Beyond the Caption: James Martin, Dairyman

Our lantern slides were collected by the University for using in lectures. The lantern slide in today’s post comes from the Department for the History of Art. A commercial slide sold by Newton and Co., it was probably bought to be used in a lecture on the history of church architecture. The photographer intended the picture […]

Why old photographs matter: a ‘lost’ church mural from Avebury

The images on HEIR are an important record of heritage management, change and destruction over the course of the 20th century – and are also a reminder of ‘forgotten’ heritage. Today’s example comes from Avebury, but rather than featuring the prehistoric monuments for which the village is famous, this photograph preserves an image of a […]

Seeing Double? A Lantern Slide Mystery Solved

One of the benefits of digitising separate lantern slide collections and placing them all on one searchable database is that it makes it very easy to spot duplicate images. Looking through our HEIR image database (, we discovered two almost identical photographs of Istanbul, one from the Department for the History of Art, and one from the […]

Reassembling the Past the Digital Way

We often notice the similarities between archives and archaeological excavations. Sometimes, in the post-excavation process, you come across two sherds of the same pot dug up from different parts of the site. It’s a great feeling when you suddenly realize that the piece of pottery in the bag you’re working on matches a piece you […]

A lost site and a forgotten lantern slide: Huntcliff Roman Signal Station, Saltburn

Looking through the HEIR database, tagger Boarshill commented on this image: He writes: ‘Huntcliff was a Roman signal station on the Cleveland Way coastal path a mile or two east of Saltburn-by-the-Sea. It was on cliffs (Hunt Cliff) which are eroding into the North Sea. Its brief story seems to be: first identified 1862, excavated […]