Showing posts from February, 2019

The Dacre Beasts

< Table of Contents The Dacre Beasts are relative newcomers to my personal cultural horizon (read: I’ve only recently encountered them). They are believed to have been crafted between 1509 and 1547, during the reign of Henry VIII, probably for Thomas, Lord Dacre (1467-1525) or his son William, 3rd Baron Dacre (1493-1563). Interestingly, all four figures are believed to have been carved from a single oak tree. These, apparently, unique survivors of English heraldic woodwork were installed in the great hall at Naworth Castle in Cumbria, where they remained until purchased by the V&A in 2000 (in lieu of inheritance tax). The castle was ravaged by fire in 1844 and although the beasts survived unscathed, they were repainted soon after, possibly following the original colour scheme. The banners were added around 1849. The beasts (each nearly 6ft tall) are intended to represent heraldic supporters of the Dacres and other families related to them through marriage.

Badarian Bowl Burial

< Table of Contents In an era where the display of human remains has become a contested issue, the presentation of this individual in his burial bowl is particularly arresting. This is the well-known Burial 59 from the pre-dynastic North Spur site at Hemamieh near Badari. The large red earthenware pot contained the deceased individual wrapped in a linen shroud, without grave goods, and was capped by a second, slightly smaller, bowl. The burial is one of a number that cut into the pre-dynastic domestic refuse mound and is tentatively dated to the Protodynastic/Old Kingdom periods. I was particularly taken by the sign near the entrance of the museum that noted that there are human remains on display inside. This is contextualised in terms of how the collections are treated with respect and are the subjects of ongoing research ‘in order to return aspects of their individual identities’.

Adoration of the Kings

< Table of Contents This altarpiece is made of enamelled terracotta and depicts the adoration of the Magi. It was made by the renowned Italian Renaissance sculptor, Andrea Della Robbia , in Florence and dates to around 1500-1510. The V&A’s database entry for this piece notes that the coat of arms on the lower border indicates that it was commissioned by the Albizzi family. It was most likely intended for an altar at either S Michele or S Andrea at Rovezzano, both of which were patronised by the Albizzi family at that time. I’m always dra wn to this piece for the simple, outlandish gaudiness of the colour scheme. I’m remarkably colour blind and loud colours don’t often resonate, but this thing just screams at me for attention (I can only imagine how gaudy it appears to modern viewers with full colour vision). I  also have to admit that I have something of a soft spot for the Magi. Quite apart from the fact that I memorised the extra-Biblical names of the Mag

Archaeological Archives for Sale! Buy it or bin it!

For Sale! Offers Above: £10,000 Collection Only. Sold as is. No Time-wasters. Offered: The surviving archives of six archaeological sites excavated between July 2000 and February 2002 on the Northern Motorway, near Drogheda, Co. Louth and on the Airport-Balbriggan Bypass, Co. Dublin. As there is little chance that any of this material will ever be published, I have taken the difficult decision to put these archives on the open market to recoup some of the costs of storage incurred in keeping them safe for the best part of two decades. The archives are composed of the majority of the excavated finds, charcoal from sieved samples, permatrace field drawings, photographic archive, and the incomplete final reports for three sites. The latter include some (but not all) of the specialist reports necessary to bring the sites to completion. In particular, there are no radiocarbon dates available for all but one site. Given the age of the excavations and how much scholars