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A 400bce gold torc from the Leekfrith Iron Age Torcs collection
©
Staffordshire County Council
 
A fundraising campaign has been launched to save ancient jewellery believed to be the earliest example of Iron Age gold ever discovered in Britain.
 
The four intricate artefacts that make up the Leekfrith Iron Age Torcs first captured the public imagination – and global media – when they were unveiled for the first time at The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery in February. They went on to attract 21,000 visitors in just one month.
 
The valuable torcs, which experts believe may be Britain’s earliest examples of Iron Age gold have now been valued at £325,000 by a panel from the Treasure Valuation Committee, and the museum is embarking on a three-month campaign to raise the money so that they can be kept on public display.
 
Stoke-on-Trent City Council, in partnership with the Friends of the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery – which is leading the public fundraising campaign on behalf of the museum – has until December 5 to meet the valuation price, or risk the artefacts potentially being separated out and sold to private bidders.
 
More here.
 

Japanese woodblock print by Eiichi Kotozuka 琴塚 英 (1906-1979) of Nene-no-Michi Lane near Yatsusaka, Kyoto on New Year’s Day (circa 1950). The rectangular shop sign reads tabako (tobacco). The round lantern sign could be a shop or Japanese inn sign and reads Sennari
Private collection Great Britain

Eiichi Kotozuka was, “born in Osaka, graduated from the Kyoto Kaiga Semmon Gakko (Technical School of Painting) in 1930. From 1932, he exhibited prints with Shun’yokai (Spring Principle Association), an artist’s organization that exhibited Western-style art. He also exhibited with the government sponsored Teiten. He was a member of Nihon Hanga Kyokai (Japan Print Association) from 1938. In addition to print making, Kotozuka exhibited Japanese-style paintings with the artists’ organization Seiryusha, which he helped found in 1929. He was also a co-founder of Koryokusha in 1948 with fellow artists Tokuriki Tomikichiro (1902-2000), Kamei Tōbei  (1901-1977) and Tasaburo Takahashi (1904-1977) which they set up to publish their creative prints (sosaku hanga). After WWII he created a number of designs for the publisher Uchida Publishing, including his most famous series Eight Snow Scenes of Kyoto.” Source The Lavenberg Collection of Japanese Prints.

The same scene today
Source and © Photogenic Japan

 

Recently revealed, a rare William Caxton printed manuscript circa 1476
Image credit University of Reading

Sean Coughlan, Education correspondent for BBC News, reports today on the recently revealed rare William Caxton printed manuscript dating from around 1476 –

Pages printed more than 500 years ago by William Caxton, who brought printing to England, have been discovered by the University of Reading.

There are no other known surviving examples of these two pages anywhere in the world, from a book believed to have been printed in London in the 1470s. The pages had been “under their noses” unrecognised in the library’s archives.

Erika Delbecque, special collections librarian at the university, described the find as “incredibly rare”. The two pages, with religious texts in medieval Latin, were produced by Caxton at his pioneering printing works in Westminster – and are now going on public display for the first time since they were sold from his print shop in the 15th Century. They are believed to be from the earliest years of Caxton’s printing press, either 1476 or 1477, and are being hailed as a remarkable discovery.

The pages will go on public display from today to 30 May at the Museum of English Rural Life at the University of Reading, England.

More here.

 

 
Detail of the 450 year-old Thomas Tallis’s motet Gaude gloriosa manuscript
Oxford Corpus Christi College MS 566. Image credit DIAMM.ac.uk
 
Writing for the Rhinegold Group, News Editor Katy Wright, reports on this evening’s performance of Thomas Tallis’s motet Gaude gloriosa. The manuscript on which the motet is written was found behind plasterwork in the walls of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, England in 1978. This evening’s performance will be the first time it has been heard for 450 years. What makes it even more interesting is that although the music is by Thomas Tallis the text is thought to be by Henry VIII’s sixth and last queen, Katherine Parr.
 
Alamire is to perform a work by Thomas Tallis which has not been heard for over 450 years as part of its concert at St John’s Smith Square on 14 April. The words are from Parr’s psalm paraphrase ‘Against Enemies’ in her first publication Psalms or Prayers, published in London in 1544, and were set as a contrafact of Tallis’s Gaude gloriosa Dei mater.
 
[Conductor David Skinner…] discovered that See, Lord, and behold (Parr’s text, set to music by Tallis) and the composer’s five-part Litany (using text by Thomas Cranmer, which was the first departure from the Roman rite in Henry’s reign) were first performed following an elaborately orchestrated series of events at St Paul’s Cathedral, London, which culminated on 23 May 1544 with a procession and sermon.
 
More here.

A 12th century toy boat with a hole in the middle where a mast could have been stepped
Image credit Åge Hojem, NTNU University Museum

A thousand years ago, for reasons we will never know, the residents of a tiny farmstead on the coast of central Norway filled an old well with dirt. Maybe the water dried up, or maybe it became foul. But when archaeologists found the old well and dug it up in the summer of 2016, they discovered an unexpected surprise: a carefully carved toy, a wooden boat with a raised prow like a proud Viking ship, and a hole in the middle where a mast could have been stepped.

More here. 

 

 
 
Image courtesy of Musée National de Préhistoire collections. Photo MNP/Ph. Jugie
 
This 38,000 year-old engraving of an aurochs, recently discovered by anthropologists in south-western France, is among the earliest known engravings found in Western Eurasia. Read more about the discovery 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.

 

 
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.
 
 
 Witch marks in the Tithe Barn at Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire, England
Image credit Peter Williams/PA
 
The public is being encouraged to help map Britain’s historic obsession with the paranormal by searching for ancient scratchings in old buildings, used as charms against witchcraft and evil spirits.
 
So writes Maev Kennedy in The Guardian yesterday –
 
Historic England would like help to find more of the marks, typically concentrated around entry points seen as vulnerable such as windows, chimneys and doorways. Faint symbols have been recorded in buildings and sites across England, including Shakespeare’s birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon, the Tower of London, and Wookey Hole caves in Somerset – where a tall stalagmite has been shown to tourists for centuries as the petrified body of a witch.
 
Full article here.
 
 
The Stone of Many Faces (or The Makapan Pebble)
Image credit and © Brett Eloff (University of Witwatersrand)
 
Writing in The Art NewspaperMartin Bailey, reports –
 
Some three million years ago a humanoid in southern Africa stumbled upon a naturally formed stone in the shape of a head and carried it to a nearby cave. The Makapan Pebble, also known as the Stone of Many Faces, was most likely found by an Australopithecus africanus, an ape-like species with some early human characteristics, which became extinct around two million years ago.
 
The Makapan (or Makapansgat) Pebble, which has never been displayed, will be exhibited for the first time at the British Museum in London this month in a show entitled South Africa: the Art of a Nation (27 October-26 February 2017). The stone belongs to the Evolutionary Studies Institute at Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg, where it is kept in storage. John Giblin, the British Museum’s co-curator of the show, says the pebble “is the perfect size to hold in the palm of the hand”.
 
Full article 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.

 

St Andrew’s Church Coke House, Normanby, North Yorkshire, England

St Andrew’s Church, in the little village of Normanby in North Yorkshire, once had two coke-fired stoves burning in order to keep its congregation reasonably warm during those cold, north country winters of yesteryear. The coke fires in the church have long since gone but the church’s coke house still remains. Though in relatively good condition, this elegant little building needs some consolidation to its roadside foundations, as well as a new wooden door on its east side and a new wooden hatch on its west.

Deteriorating roadside foundations and wooden hatch

 

A small, round-headed sandstone marker, commonly known as a name stone, and dating from the mid 7th to 8th century ce, has been discovered by an amateur archaeologist on Lindisfarne
Image credit DIG VENTURES
 

BBC News, Tyne & Wear, reports today that –

An amateur archaeologist has unearthed what is believed to be evidence of one of England’s earliest Christian monasteries in a dig on Lindisfarne. The rare grave marker, thought to be from the mid 7th-8th Century, has been described as a “stunning find”. A £25,000 project off the north-east coast was crowd-funded by 200 donors, including 60 who took part in the dig.

Project leader Lisa Westcott Wilkins said the name stone was “absolutely fantastic diagnostic evidence”. “It was a spectacular moment and, even better for us, is that…it wasn’t found by one of the team leaders or experts, it was found by a member of the public who had helped to fund and make the project possible,” she said.

More here.

 

 
 
Dated 65/70-80ce the writing on this Roman wooden tablet reads Londinio Mogontio. Translated it means In London, to Mogontius
Researchers believe the tablet is the earliest ever hand-written reference to London. It predates Tacitus’ mention of the City in his Annals, which were produced about 50 years later
Image credit The Museum of London Archaeology
 
BBC News reports that –
 
Roman tablets discovered during an excavation in London include the oldest hand-written document ever found in Britain, archaeologists have revealed. The Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA) said it had deciphered a document, from 8 January AD 57, found at the dig at Bloomberg’s new headquarters. The first ever reference to London, financial documents and evidence of schooling have also been translated.
 
Over 700 artefacts from the dig will go on display when the building opens.
 
More here.
 
 
One of two Anglo-Saxon cross-heads embedded into the south wall of All Saints Church, Sinnington, North Yorkshire
©
The Heritage Trust
 

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