Thursday, July 31, 2014

Finding something new to do!

I have just finished a quilt, which to be honest I am not happy with, neatness is not my absolute goal sometimes, or at least I cannot achieve it. But it is finished, found the squares half price at Hobbycraft and it is a pretty pink so shall give it to Matilda for her 'dowry' box, as it was meant for her in the first place.  They all off to Switzerland, in a day or two and the familiar worry 'nag' starts in the pit of my stomach as I contemplate their journey but I'm sure they will have a marvellous time.
A walk down to the river the other day, watching two people in a rather noisy long boat pick blackberries from the bank, the berries are so early for this time of the year. Great striped dragonflies darting around, always too quick for the camera, but it has been such a beautiful summer, the insects multiplying happily.  The first photo is of the studio, here I finished my patchwork in a rather disgruntled manner (knowing it was not working properly) under the eye of this god - his serenity did not work on me, who I may add was bought in Whitby so he is definitely not original but I do like the little hare underneath.

The old mill, now divided into houses

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Gathering theories

So where am I going with these Celtic spoons, not sure, but this pair of spoons below were found not far from my old house in Bath, down the lane following the fierce little brook (Locksbrook) that would eventually join up with the River Avon. I remember chasing the literature at the time, a friend had given me an old article on the subject and at the end, it was just one of those mysterious Celtic puzzles.  My mind had become locked into the silver baptismal spoon my daughter had had as a baby, no answer.

"Celtic spoons found at Loxbrook; One other interesting fact is that near the end of the brook before it joins the River Avon a pair of “Celtic” spoons were found. To quote (taken from Rev.Preb.Scarth 1870). “they were found while clearing the ground for quarrying stone to form a new road, and lay near the stream, at the depth of about 7 feet”. These spoons, of which other pairs have been found in England, Wales and Ireland, are considered by Scarth to be early christian spoons, probably dating from the 3rd or 4th century. Its interesting that they should be found just outside Bath, and near to a local stream. This leads one to believe that they were used for a baptismal rite, one spoon normally has a small hole in its bowl, also they are often incised with a faint cross in the bowl. The other characteristic is distinctive celtic curvilinear patterns that are found at the top of the spoons."

Then on checking the Westmoreland spoons, to be found at the British Museum, I found this written about them..... appertaining to the Druidical nature of the spoons....

"The spoons were found by a farmer digging in a bog near a natural spring. They were buried under 30-50 cm of peat and were about 200-250 cm apart. Objects were offered as sacrifices in bogs, lakes and rivers in the Iron Age and the spoons' location suggests that they might have been used in rituals. Spoons like these are usually found in pairs and one spoon always has a small hole on the right side. The other spoon does not have a hole, but is always decorated with a cross which divides the bowl into four quarters. Why? It has been suggested that something, perhaps water, blood or beer, might have been allowed to drip through the hole in one spoon onto the other spoon during attempts see into the future."

There is no sense to making the cross in the centre of the right hand spoon for measurement as  liquid dripping through would on the whole take the pathway of the lower r/h quarter.  Always I see the spoon as an anointing spoon, but this is because of a strong Catholic upbringing when I was young and the association of baptism and water, the 'ritual' though whatever it was has a more symbolic nature to it.

There are quite a few pairs found, as one can see from the above illustration

Romilly Allen - Celtic Art in Pagan and Christian times 1904

The Welsh spoons and those from the south of England are of the best workmanship, with embossed concentric or curvilinear designs on the handles, the reverses of which are in some cases engraved with curvilinear designs. In one Welsh pair (1 and 2) and in one English spoon (5) the junction of the bowl with the circular handle is strengthened
by wide lateral wings. That this junction was a weak part is shown by a small ornamented plate riveted on the back of a spoon found in London (8); the only other evidence of repair is a small gold plug inserted in one of the Cardigan pair (2). The spoons from the north of England, Scotland, and Ireland have engraved designs on the handles and are not embossed; the bowls are less circular than those from the south, the Irish spoons being specially elongated. In the Irish and Westmorland spoons the cross radiates from a small engraved circle; this might suggest an origin from a spoon with a central perforation similar to the French spoon, but the design is probably purely decorative....

Decoration aside, I shall have to read Romilly Allen's book, but their distribution points to a purposeful ceremonial use, the meaning of which has been lost in time.

Past and Present Tensions link;

Friday, July 25, 2014

Today the 25th July

Farm Garden with Sunflowers by Gustave Klimt
Yesterday I sorted through my books for a story, and still cannot find it.  It is a Japanese story about a fisherman bemoaning his fate of poverty, and then a stranger comes along and outlines the folly of becoming rich, and that in the end it is better to be poor but happy, but the telling of the story itself is much better than that! so be it.
Found the above painting on Facebook, the one thing people can do beside make war is paint, write and make music. and Klimt can surely paint.
To the more humdrum things of the day, a glut of courgettes and runner beans, welcomed of course.  Finding a butternut growing on one of three plants that have been producing sterile male flowers, my aubergine plant has grown to a great size but also refuses to fruit perhaps it needs a companion, and the tomatoes are green but fruitful as are the sweet peas which I have to pick each day.
Today is my grandson's birthday, Ben, who is 13 years (I think) is growing up fast, and is off to Brighton early this morning.  The family are getting up with the birds to take him down to York station for the trip, so I shall worry till he safely arrives, though Tom the eldest has decided to stay in London and work through the university holiday, so he is always on hand.  Next week they all, except Tom, head off for Switzerland, they were going to stay the night but have to drive straight onto their Eurotunnel booking, so we shall probably see them on the way back.
The cottage in Whitby has been booked for two weeks by us in the middle of September, it is full till then, and we will probably do a bit of house hunting up in Yorkshire, still undecided where to move to, but Whitby will have calmed down slightly from the summer visitors, and I notice LS is getting a bit homesick for the fish and chips down Silver Street.  Our Indian friend Mohammed's restaurant has disappeared, so no aubergine bhajis, but Botham's bakery delicacies are always there, and a quick whizz round  Boyes, the shop that sells everything but the kitchen sink, and of course Yorkshire Trading Company, which probably sells more...
Words of course always brings us back to our own rhythm of life, they are soothing as the world rages around us and I suspect we should be grateful for the calmness of a blackbird squawking his message across the garden.
Also grateful to F/B occasionally for keeping me up to date as my grandchildren travel.....and the image of little Lillie who always speaks her mind on the train back from York; my daughter - "Squashed on very packed train with hen party complete with blow up doll and particularly obscene cake .... Just waiting for Lillie to start making comments!!" 

Off on their great adventure, Ben in the middle with what looks like Matilda's case!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

My Precious

Gollum is vanished for his ugliness, Tolkien makes an appearance!

"Thanks to Cllr Mackintosh and Northampton Council, it looks as if Sekhemka may have been turned into the Egyptian equivalent of Gollum’s “precious” to be hidden away and even gloated over as a secret fantasy object.”

The sale of  of the Northampton Sekhemka statue is still ricocheting off the walls with fury, Heritage Daily latest hits out with the ugly face of Gollum, at this moment I should go on to describe my love of this fantasy by Tolkien but I shall stick to the anger that reverberates round many heritage establishments.  It is the sheer brazen face of Counciller Mackintosh   that is getting up people's noses, selling off a statue that 'by right' belongs to the museum.  
Normally I would put on a photo of some relaxing countryside, but there is an under current of anger in this country against 'the fat cats'.  It creeps into the literature, the 'sense of unfairness', anger against the greed of the bankers, politicians and of course councillors who rule in their petty fiefdoms and make the people cross.
We also have a 'crook' councillor/lord who has even gone to prison for his misdeeds over expenses.  To collect these expenses back from him which are about £50,000, Chelmsford council reckons they would have to spend a £100,000 in lawyer fees, so the case is dropped. House of Lords expenses (something like £350 a day) and you only need to spend a few minutes within its illustrious corridors and you are quids away! that is not to say that many lords don't do a marvellous job, I am quite happy with a second chamber monitoring legislation, but our Lord Hanningfield is also guilty of claiming money he does little to earn.
Enough of rogues and fools, they exist everywhere, but there was something very nefarious in the hiding away of this statue for four years by Northampton Museum, so that they could claim ' no-one wanted to see it', and hopefully their status will be downgraded as threatened by officialdom.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

This and that

A Game of Henge - Stonehenge

Phillip Gross

A game of Henge, my masters?
The pieces are set. We lost the box
with instructions years ago.

Do you see Hangman? Or
Clock Patience? Building bricks
the gods grew out of? Dominoes?

It's your move. You're in the ring
of the hills, of the stones, of the walls
of your skull. You want to go?

You want out? Good - that's
the game. Whichever way you turn
are doors. Choose. Step through, so...

And whichever world you stumble into
will be different from all the others, only
what they might have been,
you'll never know.

I start with Gross's poem, so apt when you try to start to unravel a theory as to the how and why of any particular aspect of the prehistoric past - they did not write it down; today we can bumble around  words such as 'sacred' and 'ritual' and guess till we grew old with age what really happened but never get to the truth of the matter  So reading this interesting paper, with various theories analysed and debunked can be very confusing.  So where do I stand? the answer is simple, I shall for this moment in time say the building of Silbury Hill  is ancestral in that viewing the mound from either the Neolithic monuments of East Kennet or West Kennet long barrows can be one of the answers; it lies at your feet serene in its startling man made appearance on a flat piece of land. Then just a few hundred metres further on where the conjunction of the Winterbourne meets the Kennet river at Swallowhead Springs, this also gives it a special symbolic meaning within the landscape.

The 'cone shaped shadow', in this aerial photograph of Jacquetta Hawkes 50 years ago...

Water in the moated ditch that surrounds the monument, appearing and disappearing as the little Winterbourne does, perhaps that is magical, once someone put a video on of the water rushing down the dried river course in winter, that was magical, the reappearance of water.

"When contemplating the options available to the Avebury monument builders a possibility was  available to them to use the western extension of the Silbury Hill ditch to create the illusion of a ‘full moon’ from the reflection of a fully scoured surface to Silbury Hill in the water of the winter fosse. However, it is not clear that the builders had any interest in such an exercise. There is no evidence of scouring to the whole face of Silbury Hill, although there is to the northern sector of the top terrace. 

Just a paragraph in the paper, this time the moon reflected in the fosse/moat that surrounds Silbury, speculative and not really relevant. A white chalk mound distinct in the moonlight, of course the practical in me says, you have to keep scouring the hill to keep it white.  It is a bit like Julian's Cope theory that as you descended The Ridge Way to the Sanctuary stone circle,  that Silbury would appear on the horizon dancing before you.
Reading Tilley mentioned below and you come to the latest archaeological trick to read the landscape, it is called phenomenology, and I have read the landscape by its ancestral beginnings and by its close proximity to water - clever - or not!
All I know, even now, is the warm feeling of just 'being' within the landscape, a sunny day up by EKLB with LS as he photographs Silbury from afar; following the course of the little stream called the Winterbourne, past the old willows, Moss walking ahead, deer in the field and a hare, its ears poking above the wheat. And I suspect that this is just what the prehistoric people felt, the warmth of the sun, a good harvest, wild flowers and wild animals making up their landscape.  As to their religious beliefs it did not matter, as it does today.

Over the last two or more decades the work of Tilley has proved particularly appropriate for examining the Silbury Hill ‘residual’. Rather than seeing landscape as a Euclidian space filled with natural and artificial features, Tilley’s phenomenological approach discerns active choice on the part of the builders in selecting each place for its distinctive topography and long ­established memories traceable to ancestral forager track­ways and sacred sites. Tilley emphasises how the choice of landscape context for a monument reveals how the builders wanted to manipulate a viewer’s interpretation of its meaning.

Shafts and Wells

An earlier blog 2008

Monday, July 21, 2014


Our understanding of megalith monuments are realised in the moment we stand by them and take in their surroundings.  What we fail to understand though is that through time, the stones sometimes become altered, could be through excavation or the farmer moving stones.  So does this funny little stone at Lanyon Quoit still exist or has it been moved?
The old photos were taken by Jacquetta Hawkes, a great favourite author of mine about 50 years ago, though she was wandering round the stones presumably in the 1940s.

Lanyon Quoit

Jacquetta Hawkes

Pentre Ifan

The same can be said for Pentre Ifan, the strange small upstanding stones to the side can either be part of the mound that supposedly surrounded it, though to an untutored eye looks more like a walk way.  This it cannot be because the 'closed door' of the monument is facing to the left, so what are they.  Their disappearance could be put down to an excavation......

Jacquetta Hawkes

Tomorrow, or maybe today, I shall concentrate on Silbury Hill and the 'water' theory, but for the moment my mind is tired, and so to finish with a photo of Chief sitting on a stone at the Hurlers Stone Circle, which our friend in Cornwall this morning has just been measuring! This photo was taken for me (because some would say I am very dog friendly) and as I notice Moss above, perhaps the difference between long haired  collie Moss (with a dash of spaniel) and short haired collie Chief who is a whizz at winning sheep trials can be noted...

Saturday, July 19, 2014

A four legged quadruped

This photo taken a couple of year back by the River Chelmer, so cold the trees are reflected in the river, is my version of the mirrored Celtic world.
Just been hunting for Pagans Hill Romano-British octagonal  temple, this sudden interest in that which is Celtic is of course reading someone else's blog, in this instance Past and Present Tensions, and once more travelling in the mind to other places.  A rather plump mongrel type dog statue was found at this temple at Chew Stoke in Somerset, I believe in the well of this temple, I cannot find online but maybe I have the drawing of it somewhere in my notes.  At the time, I enjoyed making miniatures and struggled with this octagonal temple but eventually succeeded, again there maybe a photo somewhere. Here is the depiction online of this unusual temple.....
LS always knows when I am in one of nostalgic moods, this time it is Solva in Wales and wandering round with Moss on my own, I had been looking for the cottage I took once or twice a year in Llandinogg, the farmhouse is still offering holidays and with the same people in charge, so who knows!
Looking for another dog is somewhat difficult, there are things left up in the air, but I have been looking, there is a site with 'oldie' dogs, but the spaniel I like is somewhere in Sussex, and we all know that on taking in 'rescue' dogs one's home has to be inspected.  Or perhaps it is because I have cold feet, in introducing into the household a lively creature.

Reconstruction drawing of Pagans Hill
A much earlier blog.. "Exploring the celtic world of gods is like chasing ghosts, their existence is only recorded by icongraphy at a somewhat later stage. Trying to find the gods of the shrines round my particular part of the West country is almost impossible. Yet if we take a theme, whether sun,moon, or animal, they will appear. So for a moment let us chase the dog motif, and how animals are seen as sacred. Cows, bulls, boars, birds and horses all figure strongly in the artwork of the Celts; these creatures have attributes and roles in the sacred world of nature, they can represent death, fertility, rebirth or war.
Nehalennia The first goddess and dog is a continental one, she seems to have protected travellers who crossed the North sea, and her shrine (now under water) was to be found at Zeeland (Holland,) linking the river Rhine to Britain. Over 121 altars were found with depictions of her, the dog that sits at her feet is large and is seen as a benevolent creature guarding his mistress. The dog in celtic mythology has two functions, and can often be found at healing shrines, dog saliva is seen as antiseptic and the licking that dogs do would probably been seen as healing. The dog also represents death, he can lead you or at least your spirit to the underworld, this of course in celtic mythology is'nt a final end, but a new beginning in a world filled with all the pleasures of life. The dog can also be sacrificed, as seen at Caerwent where several dog skulls have been found in the wells there. At the Lydney temple, high above the Severn, a temple somewhat similar to Nehalennia's temple, in that it is dedicated to mythological sea creatures the god Noden was worshipped and offerings of little bronze figurines of dogs were found.
The Pagan Hill temple overlooking Chew Valley, though a slightly later roman temple had parts of a dog stature, he is a somewhat homely creature, a slightly plump mongrel short haired and sitting down, his head is missing. Now whether he was part of a larger stature perhaps of the resident god is not known. Apollo is often seen as accompanied by a dog, and at the Apollo Nettleton Shrub temple, there is Cunomaglos (the Hound Lord), so this pairing of gods and dogs is seen as perfectly natural. Of course the roman goddess Diana with a faithful hound sitting at her feet can also be found at Nettleton Shrub, and also at Aqua Sulis, the craftmanship in these two statues reflecting a high standard of workmanship.
Again what we find is that the Roman influence and its gods dominate the Celtic pantheon, but that the indigenous god of 'place' is recognised. There is, for want of a better word, a metamorphis of beliefs at these Roman temple sites, translated into the celtic mythology, the cult of water shrines and its healing process is blended with the wider cosmology of the natural world, in which the animals also take their part......

And why a four legged quadruped? well in looking on the net at more intellectual articles on the dog from the temple, that was how he was described.

Moss enjoying the sun at Llandinogg

Friday, July 18, 2014


The rain this morning
We woke up early this morning to a violent storm, lightening and thunder crashing around, and one of the heaviest downpours I have seen for years.  As we looked out of the window a thunderbolt seemed to strike the green, a great flash of jagged red, too close for comfort.  Taranis  the god of thunder was definitely overhead in a mighty rage, but now all is calm, I have fed the birds twice, they must have been frightened by the storm and I was worrying about our sparrows, a good dozen or so.  But all was well, loads of starlings as usual, and the sparrows jumping amongst them, luckily there is no animosity. 
So now for the predicted heatwave, I am working in the studio at the moment on the latest patchwork project, the studio is always very cool, not so good in the winter but just right when it is hot.
Classic radio is my choice of radio channel, the news gets more depressing everyday, do we need it I wonder, the sadness is  overlayed by the constant analysing, so that we become spectators in a 'sport of war'.  Perhaps what we need are more benign gods who could render all the machines of war useless.  It is heartbreaking to see young children staring into the cameras so unsure about their world falling to bits around them.  I am sure there are comforting words out there, perhaps a Buddhist answer, who knows....

Good read when you feel discouraged by quilting, as I am at the moment!

Taranis at Bath Museum

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


Let us start with a lily to calm my nerves, my computer went strange about an hour ago, or rather it refused to accept my camera to upload its photos.  After messing round with it for half an hour, we did as we always do, restored it back to yesterday's configuration,  the 14th, and now it accepts my camera.  As it does not play CDs anymore and the battery needs renewing perhaps I should contemplate a new computer somewhere in the future!
So a good and bad day, good day says  mmm the 'long knives' were out this morning in the cabinet reshuffle, Gove and Paterson had to step down which was a shock but a nice one. Hague was a bit of a surprise, and we hardly know how the new people, but  the influx of females is a good surprise.  Though not being too cynical and remembering Blair's Babes (and what female did not squirm with fury over that) are what Cameron is betting the election on next year presumably, 
So what was I going to write about, well the Wheeldale supposed 'Roman' road across the North Yorks moor was on my mind.  Though there is speculation it could be pre-Roman or even a later Saxon road but then theories dance around.  We walked along it in this state.....

but in the 1960s it looked like this after a clean-up

Rubble under the road..
But it must have been impressive in its day, there was an early fort York, Malton, Cawthorne camps, so the road could have been from these camps, and then to the North......

The lily smells beautifully in the evening, but have reservations about buying more bulbs.  There has been an awful lot of red  lily beetle  around this summer, and their young is engulfed as it clings to the plant, presumably by the parent, with poo, which is revolting, similar of course to the 'cuckoo spit' beetles who are a whole lot nicer!

Wade's Causeway orWheeldale Road as it is known;

Notes; At Malton also, (probably the Derventio of the Itinerary), the original legionary base was replaced by a camp of cohort strength as early as Agricola's time (A.D. 78-84), when the tide of conquest had flowed far northwards. Yet the moors of North Yorkshire probably did not pass under Roman control uncontested. Resistance towards penetration from the south,though brief, was probably real. A native settlement near Levisham may have been a centre of resistance. The construction of the Wheeldale road (Wade'sCauseway), which in the absence of dateuble evidence has been ascribed to the Lst or the 4th centuries, may thus indicate their consolidation of the area after these operations, at a time when, judging by coin evidence, Roman influence approached Cleveland from the west also along the Tees valley.

Taken from 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Sunday morning

The weather is wet and grey, thunderstorms and lightning yesterday evening, but the rain is needed for parched lawns.  A somewhat reflective mood this morning, I had found an old blog about the Bridestones, prehistoric stones high up on the North Yorkshire moor, someone had described them as a 'megalithic mess' time has thrown down the stones in a jumble, though the High Bridestones is seen as a stone circle/ or maybe a 'fourposter' and Low Bridestones which is seen as a stone row.
The day was cold when we visited and the wind blew you at a right angle, none of which you see in these calm photos. A great expanse of dried heather in the foreground, in the far distance, a moor controlled fire, they leave little square patches of burnt heather everywhere.

The Bridestones, both High and Low are a group of stones up on the moors. We took the turning out of Sleights to Grosmont, and drove along an up and down road by the side of one of the deep combes that is so characteristic of the valleys below the moors. Though I expect there is a proper word for these steep sided small valleys - but in Somerset we call them combes. Cottages cling to the side of the valley their gardens terracing down, until eventually you arrive at the small village of Grosmont with its train station. This of course is a steam train which brings the tourists in to wander around, though there is not much to see except a couple of book shops. 

Turning back out of the village we climbed up the lane to the top of the moors, over the cattle grid, and found the stones amongst the heather and bogs, something you have to be careful about.
I'm not sure what to say about the stones, five in a circle (High Bridestones) but only one standing slightly crooked but square angled, as were the other stones on the ground. Reading other peoples impression of the stones up on the moors and they seem disappointed by the jumble of stones, its hard to make out any sense of the stone row of the Low Bridestones, it may even be a stone wall, such as you find in Wales.
I liked the stones they are narrow and not too tall, graceful and chosen for a specific reason, the land would have been different when they were first erected and the sense of space and the grandeur of the scenery must have been awe-inspiring. The barrow which sits at the turning off the main Whitby to Pickering road can be seen from here. It has a height marker on top, and apparently has been excavated again and again but there have been no finds - perhaps it was an early B/A marker cairn.

Friday, July 11, 2014

The cottage

Today I have been through my photos, looking strangely enough for the coins stuck (by who knows whom) in a stone, part of a 'megalithic mess' of a supposed stone circle called High Bridestones up on the moors just outside Grosmont.
Well if you scour old folders of photos, memories come up.  So instead of writing about old stones I shall write about the cottage, as most of the photos brought back memories of happy times with my rather large family squashed up in the small sitting room chattering away.  Well of course they moved over to the other side of Yorkshire a few months back and my son-in-law Darron is busy renovating their Victorian terrace house there, something he enjoys but leaving our cottage in Whitby rather stripped of a useful role in our lives.
The looking for a cottage for me must have started five years ago, and as Darron and I trogged round a  meagre selection, the one we chose for its feeling of warmth and cosiness (though it was icy cold in winter when we saw it) was tucked away in a small Whitby yard.  It was not in a bad state, just stuck in a 1970s time warp and really needing some tender loving care. 
The survey report revealed dampness and a leaking chimney, but otherwise it passed the test.  New bathroom suite for a start, and a terrible plastic window needed to be demolished here, water tanks from the top bedroom removed, and gas central heating put in.  Electricity plugs also, the chimney problem was solved many months later, we waited ages for the scaffolding to go up.  The cottage had acquired two TV aerials perched perilously at the front, these were removed, after negotiations with the neighbours, and a decent one installed at the back, which served the other two cottages, I still live in dread that Mary next door will complain that her television is not working properly!
Builders, plumbers, electrician and Darron all working away, Mary did not get up before 10 am in the morning, so there were little complaint notes popped under the door about the NOISE, serious discussions every time we went up there.  Mary is sweet but she more or less 'owned' the yard and we were newcomers.  Unfortunately she  become very ill over this period, age had crept up quickly, so we listened and gave in, though you will see the cottage door is a beautiful turquoise and not the horrible brown we inherited even though she said it was not 'historically' correct and wanted it changed back to brown.

This is what we saw when first bought.
I still remember that tartan carpet

Bedroom panelling, we found six different paints under this

Stairs and large cupboard, in which practically everything is fitted in.

The panelling underneath looks quite good, but was very thin, and Darron insisted on painting over it, it took him ages to scrape the original paint off though

So how does it look now? it is clean, white and magnolia paint though boring freshens it up. New furniture and carpets with pretty curtains from Laura Ashley (no expense spared) and it still feels friendly and warm.  In fact when we go in we always look round for the long dead captain of a Whitby ship who once owned the place wandering around admiring the change.  It is paying its way this year through holiday lets and yet weighs heavily on my soul.  Should it be sold, I have more or less hinted to the family that next year possibly it could go on the market.  

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Selling the Silver

Sekhemka  30 inches tall

A scandal has erupted in the world of antiques, Northampton Museum/Council is selling a priceless Egyptian statue of Sekhemka, well it does have a price, four to six million pounds is hoped to be raised at Christies today.
For a start, museums do not sell their collections, they are not allowed to, the point of a museum is to collect and store our past so that we  as the public can continue to enjoy them, museums are on the whole public spaces, the British Museum being a fine example of one of the greatest collections in this country.
The monies from the sale are to go to upgrading the museum building - apparently. There is approximately a 40/60 percent split between the museum and Lord Northampton, who has also appeared on the scene.  It was an ancestor of this present lord who 'gifted' the statue to the museum (a gift is normally given gratis free) but the present lord has managed to find a paper giving him some rights to the statue, though I may add, sorry for being scurrilous, but he has quite a few million in the bank anyway. 
There is a scandal lurking behind this story, a conservative led council, looked around to what assets could be sold off has resorted to pillaging the museum! and there are some who are not happy about it!
A video by Archeosoup outlines the whole sorry story.

Edit; It sold  this evening at Christies for....  £15,762,500.  

The figure reflects the buyer/seller/auction fees, in the auction we see it selling for £14,000,000, as the excellent photos of Mike Pitts show.

Well the story continues as Andy Brockham in Heritage Daily gathers together the facts....

13th July 2014 update by Mike Pitts.  The best analysis so far.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Thoughts - Beavers

Cute aren't they?  taken from this newspaper article
George Monbiot arguing for the re-introduction of beavers to the British Isles.  Tap on one link and a whole river of links appear with various streams filtering in. I started this train of thought yesterday and it never quite materialised into a blog, basically I was unsure of my response to re-introduction of this creature.  The moors of this country would seem a fairly  ideal habitat, though trees are of course not to be found except in the valleys of the rivers.  How much of our thought is dictated by the literature we read, Wind in the Willows comes to mind. a vision of wild animals tamed into human form.  A sentimental version of the country returning to a form of 'wilderness' when as in this link, we find The Angling Trust, through the official office of DEFRA threatening to shoot the beavers should they make their appearance on the valuable fishing banks of our rivers.  By now if you  have understood  my nature,  I regard the fishermen as being the ones in the firing line.
This little video of beavers being introduced into a securely fenced area is charming, but we can see that they are not exactly tidy, and slightly destructive which of course is their nature but as Monbiot would argue would  enhance their environment with their great nests of twigs and logs providing a safety catch for all the other river life.  But humans are tidy the other half of my brain explains, how is the farmer when his cows come to drink at the waterside going to react.  Scotland of course seems the ideal place to start the experiment, its lonely wilderness encapsulates both water and trees.

What I wish for of course is that this creature who became extinct in this country 500 years ago, would indeed make an appearance and for all those humans who see animals as second rate  learn to respect them and see them as equal but that is just a wish not a reality. So in a world that has clasped capitalism to its bosom, and sees the destruction of birds of prey as the 'right decision' to protect the rich shooting fraternity, I fear the surreptitious killing of these furry harmless creatures is how the future will unfold...... 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

A very hot day in Essex

At last some cows and their young
The photos will do the work,  it was a very hot day in Essex.  The church a million miles away from what we hear on the news, slumbering quietly in a backwater.  We met a man on the path with a long pole with a brush on the end, what was he doing? sweeping the cobwebs from  inside the church - what else!

Large empty sheds, typical Essex farm, wheat, oil seed rape and beet are the main crops, with beans and corn on a lesser scale.

The lane down to the church

The church

The 'Saxon' type porch, the reused wood is very old

There is a beautiful clear simplicity of white walls tinged with the green of the glass, ends of the pews are linen fold

Strange relief work above altar


Strong buttress of Roman tiles and brick

Another view

Ripening wheat, the view down the valley from the church.  Somewhere a Roman villa maybe..

Apparently there is also 'Coggeshall' brick in the fabric of the church, reading up about this, and bricks were first made in Coggeshall for the abbey probably in Matilda and Stephen's time in the 12th century....