BLACKBURN Museum has created a new exhibition on the history of the borough before the Industrial Revolution made it a centre of the cotton trade.

The permanent gallery outlines its heritage from the Iron and Bronze Ages, touching on the contribution of the Vikings, Romans and Tudors.

Officially opened by Blackburn MP Jack Straw, the exhibition charts the development of Blackburn and Darwen from Pre-History until 1750.

The period shows how the two towns evolved over 4,000 years from a small, insignificant backwater into an internationally famous and wealthy hub of the global cotton industry.

Key exhibits brought to light from the library vaults include: The Revidge Urn Found by a farmer in the 1870s, it proves the existence of Bronze Age settlements in the area but also shows that the people who inhabited Blackburn at this time preferred to live at the tops of hills, rather than in valleys.

The Viking chape Found near Blackburn, this scabbard chape (metal cover for the end of a leather sword sheath) is a remnant from a Viking visit. There is little information about the Viking presence in the borough but this proves they at least passed through.

The Tockholes Hoard Found in the 1970s, it contains coins from the early 1200s. No-one knows who buried them but they show a settlement using money.

The Cruck Frame This was brought to the museum from the Queen’s Head pub in Darwen Street, Blackburn when it was re-developed. A traditional ‘A’ frame prevalent in most buildings from 1500 onward, its actual date is unknown but it is believed to be at least 250 years old. These frames are rare as the timbers would be recycled when buildings were demolished.

Borough culture boss Damian Talbot said: “This is a unique opportunity to see an amazing collection of artefacts which trace the borough’s incredible history from the Bronze Age up to the industrial revolution, when the borough moved to the centre of the industrial world.”