A Medieval Citole in the British Museum

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Up in Room 40 of the British Museum you will find one of the most stunning bits of medieval carving to survive – a citole (an early type of guitar) that dates from around 1300.

It’s carved from box (a slow-growing shrub that produces dense, hard wood). When it was nearly 300 years old, someone decided that citoles were so last year and converted it into a violin, but the neck and main structure were retained (the finger board and top of the sound box are ‘new’).

There’s a silver plaque on the ‘curve’ of the finger board that is dated 1571 that says this once belonged to Elizabeth I, but for me, the wonder of the piece is the incredible carving of forests, huntsmen, animals and strange creatures that adorn it.

See below for a short talk I did about the piece on my Instagram account. I show some of these wonderful designs in close up, but once the museums open again, get yourself down to the British Museum and see this for real. You won’t be disappointed.

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