Monday, March 22, 2010

Taking The Biscuit - Medieval Style!

It's not often that you see an antiques expert say that they have never seen the like of something before .... but that is what happened recently on a BBC tv show called 'Flog It'.

A lady had inherited what looked like a knight's metal helmet with an eagle crest on top. The visor opened and inside there was a container ... for storing biscuits!

It was of late 18th century origin but described by the show's expert as 'medieval' style. He also said that in 30 years of looking at antiques of all kinds, he had never seen anything like this before. Needless to say it was sold at auction for just under £200 ... not the cheapest of biscuit barrels but certainly one that would capture anyone's eye when coming to tea!

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Sunday, March 7, 2010

07.07.07 - A Medieval King's Passing

Our last blog post was about King Edward I of England ... a man whose true life story is incredibly compelling and, in many ways, inspiring. In recent years he has not received the best of 'press' thanks to movies such as 'Braveheart' but many of his deeds showed him to be a man of courage, strong principles and, ironically, courtesy. He was for the most part loved and respected by the people he ruled and, thereby, a truly great king.

So it was with the inspiring aspects of his life in mind that we recently decided to visit the place where Edward I died. The trip we made was to Burgh by Sands in Cumbria, England. It is a small, country village close to the marshlands of the Solway Firth. We drove through the village and came to a signpost for the Edward I Monument. Following the narrow country lane for a mile or so there was another signpost leading down a small turn-off. In the distance we could see for many miles, out across fields to the Solway Firth with Scotland in the distance. About half a mile in front of us, in the middle of a grassy expanse, we could see a stone monument about 20 feet tall with a cross on top. We parked our car ... reaching the monument could only be done on foot. Here is a video clip of the view from the footpath with the monument in the distance ....

The sky was blue, the sun shining, the wind biting and the ground hard with frost as we walked down the footpath, up and over a wooden stile and then across a wide expanse of open ground that seemed to extend as far as the eye could see. The Monument was just a few hundred yards in front of us. There was no-one else around, just a few sheep grazing and birds flying overhead towards the river and marshlands. It was a rare kind of experience ... we were surrounded by the beauty of nature and a landscape that had not changed in centuries yet we were also standing at the place where, 700 years before, one of the greatest kings of England had passed away.

Edward had been on his way to confront the Scots (yet again) when he was taken ill at Lanercost Priory just east of Carlisle. There he stayed for several months until well enough to travel again but he only managed another 15 or 20 miles before he was forced to stop and make camp just outside Burgh by Sands. There he died on 7 July 1307. The 7th day of the 7th month of the 7th year of the century in which he lived.

It's impossible to convey how special our visit was but perhaps this short video clip will impart a little of what I am sure will become one of my most special history-related memories ....

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