(…or, “The Conversation Went Something Like This!”)
Peacocks with feathers,
Boar's head on a plate.
Pies full of minced meat.
Is that all they ate?
Swans, hams and jellies,
Spiced ale - that sounds good!
And biscuits and sweetmeats..
Is that Tudor food?
Remember this banquet
Is fit for a King.
It's not peas and pottage,
It's all Tudor bling
We won't admit feta
But blocks of hard cheese
Look very appealing
When spread out on leaves!
It must look realistic
But cannot be real.
It's got to be fake
With real Tudor feel!
Don't worry, we'll Google it,
Check it all out.
We'll make it authentic
So there is no doubt.
Volunteer Mary Crane waxes lyrical to tell the story of the conversation which kicked off the Tudor Christmas.
If you have been in to the museum recently you will have seen it beginning to be transformed, forward in time to Christmas, and back to Tudor times.
Volunteers are in the museum each morning, before opening time, to start putting the decorations up. Sophia Sample and Sally Brown have been paramount in creating the green swags, table and window decorations. Mary Crane and an enormous team of stitchers have produced Tudor Roses which now find their moment, as you can see…
Saturday 14 December.
Not to be missed!
On Monday (25 November) I was delighted to be able to attend a ‘Collections in Focus’ talk given by Simon Cleggett, Project Manager at Wessex Archaeology.
Entitled ’Echoes of the Voices from WW1: The Larkhill 300’, this concerned the exciting and varied discoveries made at Larkhill, Bulford and Tidworth for the Army Basing Programme, whereby some 30,000 troops and their families will need to be accommodated following their return to the UK. The archaeological investigation has entailed stripping some 33 hectares of land back to the bare chalk, revealing artefacts dating from the Early Neolithic to modern ‘conflict archaeology’ pertaining to World War 1.
Click here to read more about Wessex Archaeology’s excavations
Among the early Neolithic finds was a causewayed enclosure which is, in fact, the closest causewayed enclosure to Stonehenge yet found, and dates to about 900 years pre-Stonehenge Phase 1. Thus it’s not too fanciful to consider that the people involved in its construction may have been involved in the conceptualisation of the future Stonehenge. There are just over 80 causewayed enclosures in the UK and they are thus fairly rare.
As a scientist (albeit a chemist, but I did once study ‘A’Level zoology) I was intrigued to learn that (being Caprinae) sheep and goats are anatomically uncannily very similar – almost identical. Hence distinguishing between the two requires outstanding observational skills and extensive practice. This has been quite problematic archaeologically, and archaeologists refer to such skeletons as sheep-goats. (This reminded me of how embarrassed I once was when having a lift home from work with a colleague. Noticing a large number of animals in a field, I exclaimed, “Blimey, look at all those goats!” He fell about laughing and said, ”Those are not goats, they’re sheep that have recently been shorn”!). I now don’t feel quite so foolish.
In terms of ‘Conflict Archaeology’, Larkhill turns out to be the largest WW1 practice battlefield ever excavated. It was very poignant that, occurring during 2016-2017, the excavations occurred during the centenary of WW1 itself. This did not go unnoticed by the archaeologists on site. The excavations revealed WW1 practice trenches and tunnels, the entrances of which had graphitic graffiti of soldiers (rank, name and number) who were training there, and whose families may therefore be traceable. There were 400 pieces of graffiti pertaining to 300 names, this inspiring the title of Simon’s talk.
It is anticipated that the many artefacts found during these excavations will eventually be housed in Salisbury Museum.
Thank you Alan, as always.
Well-City Arts at the Museum
On Monday 25 November, from 1.30 – 4pm, you are invited to help us by coming along to a taster workshop in the Lecture Hall at the museum, testing out a range of arts and craft courses which we hope to make available as part of the Well-City project later. All we ask is that you spare some time at the end to feed back on your experience.
No experience necessary. Refreshments provided. Contact Sarah Gregson at the museum.
It’s Good to Talk!
On the first Monday of each month, from 10.30 – noon, all sorts of people gather in the Lecture Hall at the museum……for conversation.
It is said to be a lost art, but not here!
Each month objects are taken from the museum collections and displayed as starting points for conversation and the sharing of memories and ideas.
These are sessions that include refreshments and everyone is welcome.
Are you interested, or do you know someone who might be? Do come along and see what happens.
Spring dates: 6 January; 3 February; 2 March; 6 April.
£4 to cover costs. Free to companions.
Ever wondered why we talk about ‘Yule-tide’? Apparently it is, as far as we are concerned here in Britain, an Anglo-Saxon celebration of mid-winter. Officially it begins for us this year on Sunday 22 December and goes on until Thursday 7 January 2020. It eventually became tied up with the Christian festival of Christmas and we maintain some of the heathen practices as part of our modern celebration. It always was a time to celebrate of course, as the sun began its journey back to spring and summer after 21 December.
Traditionally (this time a Viking thing), a large log (the ‘Yule log’) would be selected in the forest on Christmas Eve, decorated with ribbons, dragged home and laid upon the hearth. After lighting it was kept burning throughout the twelve days of Christmas. It was considered lucky to keep some of the charred remains to kindle the log of the following year.
Another great Christmas tradition is the singing of carols. Whether the word carol comes from the Latin caraula or the French carole, its original meaning is the same – a dance with a song. The dance element appears to have disappeared over the centuries but the song was used to convey stories, normally that of the Nativity. The earliest recorded published collection of carols is in 1521, by Wynken de Worde which includes the Boars Head Carol.
The boar’s head became part of the Christmas feast in Medieval times but its history goes back to Roman times or before. The boar was the greatly feared master of the forest, and the serving of a dead boar’s head was symbolic of good over evil or the triumph of the Christ Child over sin.
You will see the boar’s head take pride of place amongst the feast in the King’s Room on 14 December, and hear Christmas music, and see the Yule log. There will also be a decorated spinning wheel (more about that later), story telling, Tudor characters and falcons, Tudor martial arts (for the youngsters!)
The Volunteers have been busy! Please make sure Saturday 14 December is in your diary.
Thanks to Wikipedia and Historic UK for information.
Half term! This is a quote from a happy customer…
“The atmosphere and welcome have been lovely, thank you. The activities have been great and both children (and the husband) have found something to really catch their interest. We wish we could come back again.“
Amongst the usual terrific half-term events for youngsters last week was something entitled ‘Body, Mind and Spirit’. On Thursday it involved all sorts of interesting archaeology-themed activities presented by Emma Kerr . The youngest of the children enjoyed the sandpits much as they would the beach, but older ones understood that there was more to it than that. Hidden below the surface were items to be carefully excavated and recorded. Similarly there was a tank showing the different layers which real archaeologists must pay careful attention to in order to date artefacts found. There was an opportunity to draw real prehistoric items from the museum’s collection, again, something the real archaeologists do as photographs do not always give the detail that is required in recording such items.
Later in the day a real archaeologists turned up. Dr Phil Harding came along to give professional advice to the youngsters and to answer their questions. There was much laughter, as there always is when Dr Harding is about!
Saturday 14 December
Last Thursday saw another happy and productive workshop; preparation for the museum’s Tudor Christmas. In total, more than twenty Volunteers were involved over two days last week, some attending both days.
We don’t want to give away too much, but beautiful foliage, mouthwatering ‘food’ and gorgeous hangings were produced. Please put 14 December in your diaries now!