EXHIBITS charting the long and painful history of tattoos were installed at a North museum yesterday.

Skin Deep will open at the Captain Cook Memorial Museum in Whitby, North Yorkshire, on Tuesday.

It tells the story of Captain James Cook's first encounters of tattooing in the South Pacific, to the adoption of tattooing by sailors and its growth as a fashion statement.

Items on show include an 18th Century tattooing mallet and needles collected by Cook, as well as paintings of early tattooed figures and some of the first tattooing machines.

The exhibition is part of the celebrations for the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar.

When it opens, it will be the first time Skin Deep has been seen outside of the National Maritime Museum in London.

Sophie Forgan, the museum's chairman of trustees, said: "There are all sorts of very interesting meanings attached to tattoos, whether you look back into history or whether you look at 20th Century tattoos that the bikers and Goths get themselves today. I think there is a lot of interest in why people get tattoos and what meanings are attached to them."

The exhibition runs until October 31.