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rillatoncup1
 
Sketch of the Rillaton Barrow and the Rillaton Gold Cup and Dagger
Artist unknown
 
Workmen engaged in construction work in 1837 plundered a burial cairn for stone on part of Bodmin Moor, at Rillaton. In one side of the mound they came upon a stone-lined vault, or cist, 2.4 m long and 1.1 m wide. It contained the decayed remains of a human skeleton accompanied by this gold cup, a bronze dagger and other objects that have not survived – a decorated pottery vessel, a ‘metallic rivet’, ‘some pieces of ivory’ and ‘a few glass beads’. The pot and gold cup were set beneath a slab leaning against the west wall of the cist.
 
Source British Museum.
 
 
The Rillaton Barrow today
©
The Heritage Trust
 
Please see our earlier feature on the Rillaton Gold Cup here.
 

Made of wood and measuring 96cm in length. Probably between 50 and a 100 years old
Private collection. Great Britain

The loom would have been suspended from above by the warp which would have passed through the 36 holes that are bored into it (apart from the eighteen visible holes there are also eighteen more in the rectangular sections). In this position all 36 warp ‘ropes’ would be inline with each other. By pushing the ‘handle’ upwards or downwards a space is created into which the weft could be passed to the left and right. The small piece of wood was probably used to ‘knock down’ the weft in order to achieve a tighter weave. There is what seems to be a similar loom in our feature here.

 

An Egyptian craftsman weaving a mat on a floor loom

Mohamed Badry Kamel Basuny, writing for UNESCO, reports on the Intangible Heritage of Egyptian mat-making –

Mat, as a traditional craft, is considered a local craft dating back to ancient Egyptian era. The local people had been developed this innovative production “Mats” to face the common problem of humidity and insects. There are numerous models and forms to Egyptian mats, which are displayed in Torino Museum, Italy, that was used in ancient Egyptian rural community. This craft is needed a group of material and tools such as reeds and grasses especially el-Summar herbs (Juncus), and flax to weave strongly these reeds together. Unfortunately, the craft of mats doesn’t be well-known and popular like the old periods. Now, it is known in few Egyptian governorates such as el-Qaliubiya, el-Sharkeya, Kafr El-Sheikh, Qena, Assiut, el-Monoufia. (Egyptian Archives of Folk Life and Folk Traditions (EAFLFT), 2013).

Detail of an Egyptian floor loom

Full article here.

 

 
A 3,000 year-old gold torc recently found by a metal detectorist in a Cambridgeshire field
Image credit Dominic Lipinski/PA
 
The torc is so big that one expert thinks it may have been worn to protect a pregnant woman. It is made from 730 grams of almost pure gold and is regarded as the best found in England in more than a century. The workmanship is astonishing. “The torc was shaped from a square section bar of gold, and then twisted and burnished. “If you take callipers, and measure the gaps between the twists, they are absolutely spot on accurate.”
 
More by Maev Kennedy in The Guardian here.
 

Replica of the early 8th century Anglo-Saxon Franks Casket by sculptor Andrew Lilley
©
Trustees of the British Museum
 

The British Museum has commissioned two replicas of the early 8th century Anglo-Saxon Franks Casket by sculptor Andrew Lilley. “One option presents the casket in similar colours to the whalebone we see today, while the other has been hand painted in colours that represent how experts believe it may have looked when made.”

The original is on display at the British Museum. The right-hand side of the casket is a replica; the original is in the Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence, Italy.

More on the Franks Casket here.

 

 
Avebury’s 17th century thresher barn
©
The Heritage Trust
 
Avebury’s Grade I-listed thatched barn is under threat… from jackdaws! This lovely 17th century thresher barn, at the heart of the World Heritage Site of Avebury, is also a museum with interactive displays and activities bringing the history and landscape of the area to life.
 
BBC News Wiltshire reports that –
 
The roof of the Grade I-listed Great Barn, which is owned by the National Trust, has been damaged by jackdaws since it was re-thatched in 2013. Ed Coney, who re-thatched most of the roof in that £100,000 project, said the damage was “soul destroying”. “We did the job and were very proud of it and everything was fine, and then slowly it’s been pulled to pieces,” said Mr Coney.
 
Thatcher Alan Lewis said: “It is a Grade I-listed barn, the centrepiece of a world heritage site, and it should be reflecting the best in British craftsmanship.” He said birds had only damaged part of the roof that was re-thatched most recently, but they had left alone an older part.
 
“The National Trust are looking at the effect, that the jackdaws are having pulling straw through the netting onto the surface of the thatch, but I think the cause is somewhere else. “It may be a difference in quality of the two materials used.”
 
More here.
 
 
 
The 3,000 year-old Bronze Age wheel recently found at the Must Farm archaeological site in Cambridgeshire, England
Image credit Cambridge Archaeological Unit
 
A 3,000 year-old Bronze Age wheel recently found at the Must Farm archaeological site in Cambridgeshire, England (see our earlier feature here) is said to be the largest, earliest complete example of its kind ever found in Britain.
 
BBC News Cambridgeshire reports –
 
A complete Bronze Age wheel believed to be the largest and earliest of its kind found in the UK has been unearthed. The 3,000-year-old artefact was found at a site dubbed “Britain’s Pompeii”, at Must Farm in Cambridgeshire. Archaeologists have described the find – made close to the country’s “best-preserved Bronze Age dwellings” – as “unprecedented”.
 
Still containing its hub, the 3ft-diameter (one metre) wooden wheel dates from about 1,100 to 800 BC. The wheel was found close to the largest of one of the roundhouses found at the settlement last month.
 
More, with video, here.

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Suffragette film producer Alison Owen surrounded by Law Scrolls in the Act Room of Victoria Tower, the Palace of Westminster (Houses of Parliament) London
Image credit Houses of Parliament/Jessica Taylor

The age-old tradition of recording and enshrining British law on vellum is to continue after almost coming to an end last week when the House of Lords decided to stop the enshrinement of British law on vellum for reasons of cost. Fortunately the British Cabinet Office has intervened and is to provide the necessary financing from its own budget for this thousand year-old tradition to continue.

Vellum is not a paper (which is generally made from vegetable fibres) but from carefully prepared calf-skin. Probably the most famous use of vellum in Britain are the several extant copies of the Magna Carta, drawn up some 800 years ago and sealed by King John, and the Lindisfarne Gospels. A more recent use of vellum was for the marriage certificate of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Catherine Middleton in 2011.

Watch the preparation of vellum by Paul Wright, a parchmenter, here.

 

 
 
The 6-7th century Alton Anglo-Saxon buckle
 
A silver gilt body with sub-triangular shape, filigree wire and niello, set with cloisionne garnets and glass. The centre panel of semi zoomorphic design is gold filigree on a gold repousse base.
 
The buckle is from Grave 16 of the Mount Pleasant Anglo-Saxon cemetery in Hampshire, southern England, and was found during excavations there between 1959-61.
 
More here.
  
 
 
The East Grafton Saxon gold coin
 
The Wiltshire Museum in Devizes, Wiltshire England has launched a fund-raising campaign to secure a rare Saxon gold coin for the Nation. The coin was found in April in East Grafton, a village between Burbage and Great Bedwyn in Witshire, south-west England. Struck in what is now modern-day France, sometime between 655ce and 675ce, the coin features a head and cross on one side and a pair of clasping hands on the other. The coin dates to a period of transition from Paganism to Christianity, and shortly after the Sutton Hoo ship burial and the Staffordshire Hoard which also contain objects with both Pagan and Christian themes.
 
This remarkable find brings new light to the vale of Pewsey in the Saxon period. East Grafton was part of the parish of Bedwyn until medieval times. There are a number of pagan Saxon cemeteries nearby and there was an early Saxon Royal manor at the Iron Age hill fort at Chisbury, just to the north of Great Bedwyn. Later in the Saxon period, the focus moved to Great Bedwyn where there was a Royal Manor and an important Minster church. Bedwyn was held by King Alfred and it also had a Saxon mint in the time of King Edward the Confessor soon after 1,000 AD. Bedwyn was very important and it was only with the building of its Norman castle that the focus moved to Marlborough. (Wiltshire Museum).
 
The coin is being auctioned early next month (2 December) by Spink & Son, Bloomsbury London and is estimated to achieve a sale price of around £12,000. The Wilshire Museum is therefore launching a fundraising campaign to secure this important find for the Museum and the Nation. They will be seeking grant aid but still need help. To make a donation please click on the Wiltshire Museum website here.
 
 
 
The Star Chart on the ceiling of the Takamatsuzuka burial mound in western Japan
Image credit Yuta Takahashi for the The Asahi Shimbun
 
The famous Takamatsuzuka Kofun (高松塚古墳) burial mound exhibition closes today (8 November 2015) in Asuka village, Japan. Built during the Asuka Period, between the end of the 7th century and the beginning of the 8th century, it lay unopened until 1972. Excavations of the mound then revealed an interior on whose walls stunning murals of Asuka Period ladies, astrological representations and a golden star chart were found. The gold disks, making up the chart, measure some 0.8 centimetres in diameter and are connected by red lines
 
Designated as a National Treasure this was the first time the general public were able to view the chart.
 
More here.
   
 
 
An 8th century Anglo-Saxon brooch representing the Christian tree of life
Image credit Department for Culture/PA
 
The Guardian reports that –
 

An elaborate Anglo-Saxon brooch that is more than 1,000 years old may be exported if a UK buyer is not found who will pay at least £8,000 for it. The gilt bronze brooch, from the late 8th century, is one of just 12 such ornaments in existence, and it stands out from the rest for the skill and creativity employed in the creation of its unique complex leaf pattern, which could represent the Christian tree of life.

An illustration dating from the same period of the Virgin Mary in the Book of Kells shows her wearing a similar brooch, suggesting they were worn by high-status women. Experts said the brooch is of outstanding significance for the study of Anglo-Saxon art and material culture, but it could be exported unless a UK buyer matches the £8,460 asking price.

Full article here.

 

The Huge History Lesson
©
Trustees of the British Museum
 
 
Thin filaments of gold spirals found in a field in eastern Denmark
©
West Zealand Museum, Denmark
 
BBC News reports on nearly 2,000 tiny golden spirals found in a field in eastern Denmark –
 
The coils, made from thin filaments about 3cm (1in) long, date from between 900BC and 700BC, according to Flemming Kaul of the National Museum in Copenhagen. But he and his colleagues aren’t quite sure what they have found. “The fact is we don’t know what they were for, although I’m inclined to think they were part of a priest-king’s robes, perhaps a fringe on a head-piece or parasol, or maybe woven into cloth,” he says on the museum’s website. The gold spirals will go on display at Skaelskor City Museum next week.
 
More here.
 
Images_shield_banner
 
Detail of the Battersea Shield. Iron Age, 350-50bce
©
The Trustees of the British Museum
 
This is the first major exhibition to examine the full history of Celtic art and identity, and is organised in partnership with National Museums Scotland. The story unfolds over 2,500 years, from the first recorded mention of ‘Celts’ to an exploration of contemporary Celtic influences. Discover how this identity has been revived and reinvented over the centuries, across Britain, Europe and beyond.
 
Organised with National Museums Scotland
 
Supported by –
In memory of Melvin R Seiden
Sheila Streek
Stephen and Julie Fitzgerald
Fund for the Future donors
 
CeltsArt and identity exhibition runs at the British Museum from 24 September 2015 – 31 January 2016. More here.
  

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