The Sutton Hoo treasure

In 1938 a Suffolk woman called Edith Pretty asked a local archaeologist Basil Brown (no relation unfortunately) to excavate a series of mounds that were on her land. In the spring of the following year, in the prosaically named ‘Mound No. 1’, Brown unearthed the remains of an early anglo-saxon ship burial from around 600-650CE.

No body was found – it, along with all the other organic material, including the actual wood of the ship, is thought to have been eaten away by the acidic soil over the intervening 1300 years. The balance of scholarly opinion believes that this was the grave of Raedwald who was king of East Anglia in the first quarter of the 7th century.

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National Covid Memorial Wall

Along the Albert Embankment wall of St Thomas’ Hospital, directly over the Thames to the Houses of Parliament is an incredible piece of public guerrilla art.

Hand painted on the wall are thousands upon thousands of red and pink hearts, each one representing a victim of the Covid pandemic. Some have the names of individuals written in, there are other hearts drawn by family members, messages have been appended.

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Ghost stories! Spooky London tales for Hallowe’en

Another free online talk for you. Me and the rest of the gang at UKToursOnline did one of our ‘chats’ yesterday evening where we talked ghosts, witches, the supernatural and other bits of London lore and legends.

You can see me discussing the Battersea Poltergeist, Tim Barron talks about haunted theatres, Rachel Pearson looks at witches, Emma Matthews visits haunted pubs and Leo Heaton introduces us to the Black Dog of Newgate.

For more like this, follow UKToursOnline on our Facebook page.

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Video: Square Stories – favourite squares in London, Oxford and Bath

Another video chat with the gang from UKToursOnline. This time we get competitive looking at “squares” – there are the London garden squares including Russell Square and the gardens of Notting Hill, and the elegant and exclusive St James’s; Georgian splendour of Queen’s Square in Bath and Oxford’s wonderful Radcliffe Square. We’ll also take you on a trip around Trafalgar and Parliament Squares.

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Lindow Man – the body in the bog

In the British Museum is a remarkable Iron Age corpse, a wonderfully preserved ‘bog body’ from the 1st century CE discovered in a place called Lindow Moss near Wilmslow in Chesire in 1984.

Lindow Moss is a peat bog and while workmen were harvesting this peat they discovered a leg. The previous year the head of a woman (dated to the 2nd or 3rd century CE) had been found, so the archeologists were called in.

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The Royal Gold Cup

Walk into Room 40 in the British Museum via the staircase in the entrance lobby and the first thing that hits you is this wonderful piece of medieval metalwork – The Royal Gold Cup, created around 1380 in France by John, Duc de Berry for his brother Charles V (or, some sources say, for his nephew Charles VI).

It’s a lidded cup that weighs just under 2kg (so just over 4lb) is around 23cm (9 inches) tall and is made from gold with ‘basse-taille’ (low relief) enamelling that tells the story of the martyrdom of St Agnes (Charles V birthday was St Agnes’ Day – 21 January).

[Here’s me doing an online talk about the Cup and explaining more about the story of St Agnes]

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A Medieval Citole in the British Museum

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’).

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