If you have a spare day in London, a walk through the British Museum will not disappoint.
I always make a bee line for the medieval and Iron Age sections where ancient shields that have lain at the bottom of the Thames and other rivers, now see the light of day. Some were purely for decorative or ceremonial purposes – offerings to Gods perhaps – for they were not strong enough to survive the ravages of battle.
The Iron Age forts’ early thatched roundhouses look quite sound and sturdy – able to hold off the damp english weather – but not invading armies.
You can imagine traders burying their treasure – gold hoards, decorative arm and neck torcs and the like, in the event of an impending attack.
House hold items like this decorated bronze mirror (50BC -200AD) might have been left behind by a fleeing family for it was found in an isolated pit by a the side of a Roman villa.
This gleaming gold horned helmet from 150 to 50 BC languished beneath Waterloo Bridge and is the only Iron Age helmet found in Europe. The Victorians imagined the Vikings wore them and the idea took hold – especially in Wagnerian opera, but most historians would disute their use except for ceremonial purposes.
When Anglo-Saxon England split its land. with the Vikings taking Daneland in East Anglia, many items were imported from Scandinavia so tortoise shell brooches and arm and finger rings became common finds. Imagine digging in a field or weeding your vegie patch to unearth something like this!
I particularly like this relinquary head thought to represent St Eustace, all the way from a Cathedral in Basel in Switzerland. Love the jewelled headband!
And there’s more… inside its wooden core were found the relics of saintly bones.
Engraved pillars once told tales of the life and times of the people.
Moving into the early medieval period, this glorious french wine jug with its decorative bird motif is a favourite of mine. I wonder who used it? How on earth did it survive all these centuries? Wouldn’t last too long in my house!
And this gorgeous sculpture… can you guess what it is or what it was used for?
When the English kings inherited the wealth of Aquitaine, it’s no wonder they fought so hard to hold onto the wine-rich lands. In1308, 5 million gallons were imported to England in a single year. And here we are still enjoying a similar tipple today.
I’ve always loved medieval tiles and this one’s a beauty. Imagine all the people who have walked upon it…perhaps even St Bernard!
These items are just a tiny snippet of what you might find. So I’m sure you’ll agree the British Museum is the perfect place to lose yourself midst the treasures of the past…