Showing posts from 2018

Thanks for reading! | The Top 10 posts of 2018

It’s that time of the year again … those few days where it’s socially acceptable to lounge about the house in a dressing gown and have sherry and selection box for breakfast. It is, hopefully, also a time for quiet reflection on the past year. From the point of view of this little blog, I’ve been thinking about what I’ve been writing and how it has been received. This year I embarked on a series of posts about Irish material in the British Museum. Many of these have been quite popular and well received. My series on ‘things in several London museums that I find interesting’ have not ignited the popular imagination to the same extent, but maybe 2019 will be their year! In the meantime, here’s my list of the top 10 most popular posts, with a small selection of my favourites that didn’t make the list, but that I feel deserved more love than they got. So … take a trip down memory lane and pick up on some posts you liked or some you missed … either way, it’s my intention to keep writing

Co Kerry: Archaeological Objects at The British Museum

The British Museum holds nine items identified as coming from Co Kerry. The majority of these are assigned to the Early Bronze Age and Early Medieval periods (2 each). The most common object type represented are flat axes (2). The most popular material types represented in this assemblage are: Metal (5), Stone (2), Leather (1) and Wood (1). < Table of Contents Neolithic/Bronze Age: Stone item Kerry axe 20050501.326 Small polished stone axe with flat butt. Late Neolithic/Early Bronze Age: Metal item Mangerton, Engraved writing on the back of the lunula reads "Found at Mangerton July 1842 under eight feet of bog". (near) lunula 18710401.100 Gold lunula. Flat sheet crescent of beaten gold with spatulate terminals rotated relative to the crescent. It is decorated with a complex finely-incised geometric pattern. 2400BC-2000BC (c

The St Nicholas Crozier

< Table of Contents I’ve mentioned before that I have a strange fascination for ivory, but I also appear to have something similar for historical croziers. I think that the appeal has much to do with the dichotomy between them once having been potent symbols of enduring power and the fact that they’re now frequently seen in museum cabinets … or, at least, that’s where I usually encounter them, not regularly hanging out amongst those with episcopal leanings. This particular example has some exquisite carving, depicting scenes from the nativity and the annunciation, along with a number of scenes related to the life of St Nicholas, Bishop of Myra. One of these represents Nicholas’ famous gifts of gold to three daughters of a poor family. The money was necessary to pay for the young women’s dowries, without which they would have no other option than to take to the streets as ‘ladies of negotiable virtue’. Years ago, when I first encountered this myth, I was intrigued that the s

Co Wexford: Archaeological Objects at The British Museum

The British Museum holds 12 items identified as coming from Co Wexford. The majority of these (3 each) are assigned to the Medieval and Neolithic/Bronze Age periods. Only two material types are represented in this assemblage: Metal (9) and Stone (3). < Table of Contents Neolithic/Bronze Age: Stone items Wexford macehead 18541227.110 Perforated, polished stone macehead, oval shaped and rounded edges, dark reddish brown in colour. Fethard Castle spear-head; mould 18990523.100 Stone mould. Half of mould for side looped, socketed spearhead. Fethard Castle mould; axe 19000619.100 Half of a stone mould for casting a double looped, socketed, decorated axe. Sort of boat-shaped in cross-section.

The Veroli Casket

< Table of Contents Overview of Casket I’m not entirely sure what it is about ivory carving that I find so attractive, but put me near a well-made example of the art and I start to drool (I’d like to pretend that the drooling was only intellectual, but there may be a physical component too). I do think that part of the attraction must be a reciprocating force to my abhorrence for modern ivory hunting – the ugliness and repugnance of how the material was gathered creating a counterpoint for the beauty of the finished product … and an appreciation of the degree of cognitive dissonance required to reconcile the two positions. In any event, this is considered to be the finest surviving example of ivory carving to have come from Constantinople and dates to the period from 950-1000 AD. The underlying box is of wood, overlain with plaques of both ivory and bone. Close examination reveals that it still retains traces of painted and gilded decoration. Although it is not cle

Co Derry~Londonderry: Archaeological Objects at The British Museum Part I

The British Museum holds 221 items identified as coming from Co Derry~Londonderry. A further six are located to Antrim/Derry~Londonderry and one to Tyrone/Derry~Londonderry. The majority of the artefacts (168) are assigned to the Neolithic/Bronze Age, followed by the Roman (Provincial) period (30). The most common object type represented are axes (139), followed by adzes (10). The most common material type is Stone (174), followed by Metal (51), Glass (2), and Amber (1). < Table of Contents Neolithic/Bronze Age: Stone items Londonderry axe 20050501.301 Polished stone axe with slightly damaged butt. Londonderry axe 20050501.300 Polished stone axe with damaged butt, flat sides. Londonderry axe 19890301.1426 Larg