The Staffordshire Hoard: Unveiling the story so far…

moxeyns:

A really interesting film on the first stages of conservation for the Staffordshire Hoard.

Originally posted on The Heritage Trust:

http://youtu.be/CcriG8UIRVI

The Staffordshire Hoard: Unveiling the story so far…
Video History West Midlands

The Staffordshire Hoard is the largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold ever found. In this film we find out about the first stage of conservation work on the artefacts …and what secrets have been revealed.

From History West Midlands. See also theStaffordshire Hoardwebsite.

Though not connected directly to the Staffordshire Hoard this may also be of interest -
  

An example of Anglo-Saxon folded (woven) sword steel in the Sutton Hoo Exhibition Hall at Sutton Hoo, Woodbridge (see LS’ comment above).
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The Heritage Trust

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Bloodhounds!

I had an excellent surprise this morning – driving back from a karate lesson, there were signs out for the East Anglian Bloodhounds – http://eabh.co.uk/. I grabbed a very quick shower, packed a lunch and a book, and set off on foot to see if I could catch them. As luck would have it, I guessed right on where the first run might go, and met the quarry – the landowner’s daughter and a companion – running across the meadow, so I trotted off myself to get in a good position to catch the show.

I ended up looking at one of Imagemy favourite views in England… as the first riders came into shot. There is a jump in the center of the picture, and an open gate at the top left for those who don’t wish to jump, in very wet conditions – the Master has taken the conservative route, and has to hustle to catch up!

There was a little scrum by the jump, as people sorted themselves out – then a steady stream of people galloping by. The riders wear stocks and black jackets, and look fabulous – it really counts as historical research, rather than leaning on a fence enjoying some glorious Spring sunshine and admiring horse flesh : )

ImageJoking aside, that’s truly so – it’s not often that one can feel in one’s bones what a group of horsemen galloping past feels like, nor hear the horns or the dogs’ belling. My beloved Wimer obtained a hunting licence from the King for this very land, although I’m not sure what method he would have used. Certainly he would be expecting to kill something for the table, rather than just have a fun outing!

I was only going to stop for one hunt, but had another stroke of luck and met the next quarry; so got myself into position for the following run too. They generally do three or four runs, with breaks in between. I had time for a coffee… before the hounds went one way and the riders, the other! I got a lot of photos of rear ends…

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Everyone relaxing at the end of this pass. The man in shorts in the foreground is the quarry.

A very pleasant sight on a lovely day!

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Churchy carvings

I have been collecting a lot of photos of carvings, grotesques, and graffiti in assorted churches recently, which I ought to share!

Firstly, a super little church; the Round Church in Little Maplestead, Essex – built for the Knights Hospitaller in the mid 14thC, and a lovely place to visit.

http://www.roundchurch.co.uk/about-us/history

First, some finely-detailed tracery over the door – with the Knights’ cross just visible, by happy accident!

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Then a pair of very pleasantly welcoming faces at the door :)

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Now, for something completely different – a sweet little dragon, on a font…

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In a church that seems to have a lion theme! This from round the door. It’s St Mary le Tower in Ipswich, which also has a Maryan shrine that’s worth a visit.

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Then the grafitti, as advertised; from Framlingham church. Messy lot, those mediaeval peasants!

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Finally, just because I can – my all-time favourite church, the one that Wimer built – an arch from the remains of the 12thC Orford church, still standing behind the current one.

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Busyness subsided.

YaY! Whoop! <turns somersaults> I’ve finished mapping that finds-mountain from last year, only a week into the new season :) Go me :D

OK, so I still have a couple of bags of stuff to wash, and the PAS Finds Liaison Officer can expect another visit from me at some point, but I have largely finished with last year’s digging writeup.

My main site last year was a tale of Bronze Age settlement, and pre-enclosure paths, which has produced some amazing flints, again. Also, I was very surprised to see the paths bracketed by little clusters of thumb-scrapers – which clearly mark hut patterns; you don’t take a tool used only for preparing hides on a hunt. These paths were strip villages, 3,000 years ago! Bang go all my preconceptions about a violent, inward-looking society!

(There’s another lovely by-product of my metal detecting. I have a story about a boy learning to be a BA smith bubbling away in my head. I suspect I need to go on one of Will Lord’s fabulous bronze casting workshops to complete the research; but the story will come.)

My winter digging this year was mostly just across the valley from my summer site. There is an at least 3,000yo main N-S footpath, whose onward travel is unclear; I wanted to nail it down over the winter. Unfortunately, nothing conclusive came up; there were still three possible routes.

Then the shooting season finished, and I moved back across the valley, just to the North of where I finished last year. Bang! There’s my route; and the spring that people stopped at before crossing the stream. I can now trace the route another 3-4 miles northward – and a little further on, there’s that peculiar arc of fields that designates a Saxon settlement. Very satisfying when things come together like that! I shall have to see who owns those fields next winter, and see if they fancy a resident metal detectorist for a few months! I shall also have to set out my evidence for the local Archaeological Unit, I think it will be new evidence for them, or they might be able to add to it.

So now I’m happily engaged in building this year’s finds mountain :D

 

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Castling

I have been on holiday this week, mostly to celebrate the close of the shooting season and the consequent opening of the archaeology season (Yay! The Glorious 2nd!). Not, to be fair, that I have lacked archaeology over this winter. Anyway, Saturday – the last day of the shoot – was a glorious day, and I decided to get well out of the way, and visit Framlingham and Orford castles.

Orford I have visited several times whilst researching Wimer, but I have been sniffy about Framlingham, because what remains is later than I’ve been interested in. However, the Wimer sequel is in the right timeframe, so I decided to go along; then to drive from Framlingham to Orford, a direct trip I haven’t made before.

Visiting Framlingham was useful for scale, and for viewpoints. The encircling ditches were never filled with water, being a dry route for soldiers to move unseen around the perimeter; I wouldn’t have known that without visiting. Also, the River Ore forms a large mere on the North side – I think that was a conceit of the Howards, centuries later, but when I was there the whole river valley was flooded; I think, in the same weather conditions, it would have been just as defensive in 1216, when John attacked the castle. They surrendered after two days – Roger Bigod was away; I bet he swore!

FramlinghamI am left with a puzzle, though. Henry II had Hugh Bigod’s motte and bailey at Framlingham destroyed, after the Young King rebellions in the 1170s. However, the English Heritage people were insistent that the stone chimneys visible in the curtain wall of the 13th C castle were remnants of the earlier castle – in fact, of the Lord’s chambers. How, if the motte was demolished? There’s no sign of it now.

They also suggested that the castle’s orientation has flipped 180 degrees, with Hugh’s castle oriented South, and his son Roger’s, to the North. Here’s a sketch, using Google Maps.

There were some interesting facts on how the castle was provisioned; in 1386 the dovecote produced 431 pigeons, and there were a team of falconers employed to fish from the mere!

I also loved the drive between Fram and Orford, through Parham, Campsea Ashe, and Tunstall. I indulged my church bent, and went into them all :) Something I hadn’t realised is that the route runs alongside the River Ore – now not much more than a stream, but was it bigger then? Even navigable, or suitable for poling a boat up? The other major impression was how dark and huge Tunstall Forest is, even now. The river route might have been much safer!

Finally I had a nice visit with my favourite castle in the world, Orford. I had Wimer’s chapel to myself in the evening sunshine, and it was such a pleasant place to sit and write. I remembered to count this time; there were 12 seats in the chapel, another numerological reference! And I confirmed another hunch – Wimer’s bedroom is the only one in the castle with a private loo, he really did have a thing about them :D

A most enjoyable outing.

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Connections 2

Second attempt at this story, with the first few paragraphs amended. Which is better? How could I improve it? All comments welcome!

She popped her head into the cathedral on the off-chance. She liked the tall ceilings, and the echoes of past lives; but it felt empty now. She turned, and scraped a foot against a loose tile. The atmosphere changed.

Mike froze, trying not to alter his breathing. Julie and the kids were still asleep, huddled under their space blankets. He grew aware that his head was poking out of his. He would be radiating like a furnace… He opened his eyes. It was still deep night, the cathedral’s ruined spaces lit only by the moon. They said that you mustn’t look at them, or they could always hunt you down – but he was desperate to see.

From where she had settled, high up on a wall, she watched his bright aura blossom as he came to a crouch. Beside him was a diffuse glow, several life forces, promising bright, delicate tenderness. She rubbed her mandibles together indecisively, and tapped her forefeet, dislodging dust. The treat, or the more complex meal? The decision was made as he looked up and around. The connection between them snapped into place.

<about 1000 words more…>

 

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Connections

She popped her head into the cathedral on the off-chance. She liked the tall ceilings, and the echoes of past lives; but it was empty now. She turned, and scraped a foot against a loose tile. The atmosphere changed.

Mike froze, trying not to alter his breathing. Julie and the kids were still asleep, huddled under their space blankets. He grew aware that his head was poking out of his. He would be radiating like a furnace… He could hear nothing. He opened his eyes. They said that you mustn’t look at them, or they could always hunt you down – but he was desperate to see.

From where she had climbed, high up on a wall, she watched his aura expand as he came to a crouch. Beside him was a diffuse glow, several life forces, promising bright, delicate tenderness. She rubbed her palps together, and tapped her forefeet, dislodging dust. The treat, or the more complex meal? The decision was made as he looked up. The connection between them snapped into place.

<about 1000 words more…>

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A bit busy just now…

The rhythms of my year revolve around the UK shooting season. Not because I shoot – I did plenty of hunting for the pot in Africa as a girl, the UK practice of using pheasants as target practice doesn’t particularly appeal – but because the gamekeeper on the estate I prefer to detect on gets very uptight if I’m anywhere in sight during the season. So from early September to 2nd Feb I’m elsewhere; this year, I’ve been able to extend my research to neighbouring estates, which has been very cool.

But now the Glorious 2nd is almost upon us, and I realise that I have not done the usual winter evening job of logging last year’s finds on my mapping database. I have an awful lot of finds to catch up with, and very little time; apologies for silence, whilst I sort out what feels like THIS many finds…

Stars in my pockets, like grains of sand...

“Star dune in the Gobi desert, Dunhuang, China” by Jana Eichel, distributed under a Creative Commons licence.

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This is what my brain feels like…

This is what my brain feels like...

I’ve been beating my brains against any handy rocks, walls, or fists for the last few days, trying to get a couple of short short pieces ready for the next Mslexia mag deadline on the 20th. Now complete and submitted; one 4-line poem, ABAB rhyme, plus a 200-word pen picture of a widow, and I can relax! (Well, sort-of. My brain now wants to go and play with a different opening to my historical novel. Glutton…)
Image by A. Pollock [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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January 15, 2014 · 9:26 pm

Seasonal excitement!

My daily walk around my little patch of garden has made me very excited today – there are definite signs of Spring! The onions and garlic in the veggie bed are pushing up new spikes of green, and buds everywhere are beginning to swell. I’m sure that we have some horrid winter weather still in store, but I love that my garden is looking past all that!

Deep orange Pyracantha berries against blue-green Rue foliageThere are still some pleasures left from Autumn, too – Bitter Rue against Pyracantha was a gorgeous colour contrast a few months ago, and it’s still popping even after many of the berries have gone from the top of the bush.

No looking at the grass stalks sticking up through the Rue, please – gardening has not had much priority in my life recently! I am slowly working round, digging out all the worst weeds! Now I have the promise of Spring, I shall have to speed that progress up…

Rue is the national plant of Lithuania, where my soon-to-be-ex husband’s family came from, and it’s actually in the garden because he promised his Grandmother he’d always grow some – but I think it earns its place in my garden just for this colour contrast alone! I’m not fond of its spindly little yellow flowers, and on a hot day it exudes an oil that can burn an unwary passer-by ; but still, it’s worth it for the months of pleasure it’s giving me.

 

Swelling buds of Clematis ArmandiiAnother great pleasure – and an almost completely maintenance free one – is the huge, swelling buds on my evergreen Clematis. All I need to do with this wonderful plant is to scare the pigeons off it – they love to eat the buds, Grrr! – and occasionally rescue long tendrils that have put in an escape bid to my neighbour’s garden. Throughout the winter it’s a glossy patch of green, reminding me that the world will turn again; very soon, it will add its pale pinky-white flowers, and I shall love it for them too :)

I also, of course, noticed all the jobs that need doing – quite apart from the weeds!

 

 

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