Monday, 6 February 2017

The Dolly Mare of Llangennith

 The stone effigy, known locally as the 'Dolly Mare', can be found at the Parish Church of St Cennydd which is located in the centre of the small village of Llangennith, Gower in South Wales.  The effigy is one of several stone artefacts located within this church, the site of which dates back to the 6th century when it was founded as a religious retreat by St Cennydd.

The figure is not identified by any plaque or inscription but may be a member of the De la Mare family who owned nearby Oxwich Castle - images of a De La Mare and his lady can be found at Oxwich Church.

The knight, made of Dundry limestone, has lost its legs and is a little worn but you can still make out that the knight is wearing a chain-mail helmet and collar over which is worn a tunic.   There is a shield on his right shoulder, a belt at his waist and his hands are placed upon a sword to the left of his body.  This style of armour places his death at around 1260.

The figure can be found to the right of the church door as you enter. Originally it was placed at the south side of the nave where it rested within a niche. 

Photographs by B Rogers
Information collated from Local Boy Makes Good: The legend of St Cenydd (available to purchase from St Cenydd's Church)

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

First glimpse at new Bolton Egyptology gallery

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Storage Treasures - Greek Stela of a 'good woman'

I recently was lucky enough to be doing some work in the storage room at the Egypt Centre and came across this lovely fragment of a Greek stela.  

It reads:

ARISA the daughter of AROSTOMENES a good woman who caused trouble to nobody. Farewell now. 55 years old. In the 28th year of the Emperor, on the 16th day of tner Month Pharmouthis'. 

Translated by Dr Kate Bosse Griffiths

Friday, 12 August 2016

The Grave of Nanetta Stocker in Birmingham

 Worn with age and covered with lichen, it is difficult to read the inscription on this grave at St. Phillip's Cathedral in the centre of Birmingham.  It's design is unremarkable, so that people passing it are not likely give it a second look.  Yet, this memorial stands testament to a remarkable women.  Nanetta (also referred to as Nanette) Stocker was in fact the smallest woman in Britain.

At only 33 inches high (two foot nine inches), Nanetta used her height to map out a living.  A talented musician, she toured with  fellow Austrian and musician, John Hauptmann, who was himself small in stature.  Both became well known throughout Europe for their amazing talent but also as curiosities.  A booklet was even produced about them at the time called The History and Travels of the Little Nanette Stocker and of John Hauptmann.
Image via Lesley-Anne Mcleod

Nanette's grave can be found to the right of the entrance of the Cathedral and the inscription reads:

In Memory of NANETTA STOCKER, who departed this life, May 4th 1819, aged 39 years.  The smallest woman ever in this kingdom.  Possessed with every accomplishment, only 33 inches high.  A NATIVE OF AUSTRIA,

Image via Lesley-Anne Mcleod

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

The Leaning Tower of...Burnham On Sea!

The lighthouse on legs on the beach at Burnham On Sea
If you find yourself in Somerset, as I did this weekend, I can highly recommend a visit to Burnham On Sea.  Burnham was originally a small fishing village until the late 18th century, when it then grew in popularity during the Victorian period as a seaside resort and spa.  Today it still retains an old-fashioned charm, where you can enjoy a huge (and very clean) beach with its own a lighthouse on legs, a long promenade, the shortest pier in Britain and plenty of history to boot.
St Andrew's Church with Sam in the forefront.

One good place to experience this history is the Medieval church of St Andrews. A church has existed on the site since the late 11th century and the building has  subsequently been enhanced and replaced over the centuries.  The church is notable at first glance for its leaning 78 foot tower which was built in the late 14th or early 15th century.   The 3 foot difference in angle from the top to the bottom occurred almost immediately it was built and is believed to have been caused by poor foundations and settlement.  During the 18th century a light was put in the tower where it acted as a guide for boats in the harbour until 1801 when a round tower was built next to the church as a replacement lighthouse.  The round tower became redundant in 1832 and was replaced by the High and Low lighthouses. Six bells were placed within the tower in 1823 and a further 2 were added in 1902.  I experienced the beautiful sound of these eight peals on Sunday morning!

Lion head outside the church
Walking through the huge oak door of  St Andrew's (built in 1315), we received a warm welcome by the Revd. Graham Witts and the lovely guide on duty who both enthusiastically shared their knowledge of the church's history with us.  Seeing we had left Sam, our dog, outside, he was promptly invited in to have a cool bowl of water...a lovely gesture on a very hot day!

There are a number of beautiful marble sculptures inside, which can be found behind the Altar, in the Nave windows and in the Baptistry.  Known as the Gibbons Sculptures, these were originally commissioned by James II and once formed part of the Altar piece by Grinling Gibbons for the chapel of Whitehall Palace.  Later, they were taken from the Palace to Westminster Abbey and placed behind the High Altar on the order of Queen Anne.  In 1820 the sculptures were removed by the Dean and Chapter  and came to Burnham on Sea at the instigation of the Bishop of Rochester, who was at that time also the vicar of Burnham.  The sculptures are exquisite and St Andrew's are righty very proud of them.  Photography is actively encouraged, and there are plenty of information sheets for you to take away.

Gibbons Sculptures at the back of the Altar 
Angels - part of the Gibbons sculptures

There is much enjoy at St Andrew's, including the stunning 1773 brass chandelier which was happily switched on for us to take a photograph underneath.  Beautiful and well maintained grounds, a wealth of history, stunning architecture and monuments and a fantastic welcome are just some of the reasons to visit this lovely church.  Oh...and the leaning tower of Burnham makes a great photo too!

The beautiful brass chandelier

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Desert View - 1920s style

Image via Mooshy La La
Loving this photograph postcard from the 1920s showing two ladies enjoying the view over the Egyptian desert.

Friday, 27 May 2016

Thursday, 26 May 2016

In the Spotlight...the President of the Egypt Exploration Society

President of the Egypt Exploration Society, Professor Alan Lloyd


Born in Wolverhampton on September 24th, 1941, Professor Alan B Lloyd attended Tredegar Grammar School from 1953 to 1960. He graduated from University College of Swansea (now Swansea University) in 1963 (Classics) and The Queen's College Oxford in 1965 (Ancient Egyptian and Coptic). He was Laycock Student of Egyptology at Worcester College Oxford from 1965-8, where he graduated with an MA, and then a DPhil (Herodotus on Egypt) in 1972.

Professor Lloyd retired from Swansea University in 2006 after 39 years of teaching and currently holds the title of Professor Emeritus in the Department of History and Classics. He was elected FSA in 1987. Currently he is President of the Egypt Exploration Society and was the first chair of the Higher Education Credit Initiative Wales.

As a member of the Saqqara Epigraphic Project, sponsored jointly by the British Museum and the EES, Professor Lloyd worked in the Teti Pyramid Cemetery during the 1970's. He is the editor of many books for the Egypt Exploration Society and Kegan Paul International and is also the author of many publications on Egyptological and Classical subjects. He is an authority on the writings of the historian Herodotus and has served as Editor of the EES Excavation Memoirs and edited the Journal of Egyptian Archaeology from 1979 to 1985.

Professor Lloyd has also participated in many television and radio programmes on Egyptological and Classical subjects. Most recently, he acted as an adviser on the Ridley Scott film Exodus.

How did you first become interested in Egyptology?
Through an illustrated Bible which my father had. This was strengthened by the first year history classes at the grammar school I attended.

If you hadn’t followed the Egyptology career path, what else do you think that you would have chosen to do? 

Probably the law.

What were your best/worst subjects in school?
Latin my best. Music my worst.

What do you find most rewarding/challenging about being an Egyptologist?
The food for the imagination and the problem-solving challenges. The most challenging aspect would be keeping up-to-date.

What is the most memorable moment of your career so far?

Getting my DPhil at Oxford.

What is the most memorable class/lecture/talk you have ever had and why does it stick in your mind?
Of recent talks I’d rate highly Professor Stringer’s address at the opening of the Demon Conference (Swansea University 2016). It broke through the barriers which so often impede the study of religion.

If you had been around in the early days of the Egypt Exploration Society’s foundation, which member of the (then) Fund do you think you would have got along with best?
Francis Llewellyn Griffith.

What’s your take on the possibility that Tutankhamun’s tomb may reveal much more to it than previously thought?
Profound scepticism.

Do you collect anything yourself?
Postcards depicting places where I have lived.

If you could select one person from history to ask them a question, who would you choose and what would be the question?
Nelson. Why did he expose himself so obviously at Trafalgar?

Who would you most want to be stuck in an elevator with?

Rowan Atkinson.

How would your friends describe you in 3 words?
I have no idea. You’d better ask some of them.

What is your favourite word?

What would be a good theme song for your life?
‘It’s a lovely day tomorrow’, by Al Bowlly.

And finally….

What exciting things does 2016 hold in store for you?A cruise as guest lecturer in the Western Mediterranean.
A holiday in Crete in the summer.

My thanks to Professor Lloyd for taking the time to answer these questions.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Perfume by Ramses

In 1916, a new perfume company called Ramses was established by M. de Bertalot.  The luxury brand soon became a major exporter and opened offices in Paris and Istanbul.  The Egyptian theme was also featured on their shop which had five monumental figures of pharaohs in marble on the facade.  The building was destroyed in 1929 after the company closed.

Ramses' range of of perfumes were Egyptian inspired and included the following:

1917  Secret of the Sphinx
1918  Lotus Sacre
1919  Rose Antique
1920  Sidon
1920  Ioldys
1920  Ambre de Nubia
1920  Sphinx D'Or
1920  Ivresse d'Amour
1920  Chypre
1920  Origan
1920  Jasmin d'Egypte
1920  Hycsos
1920  Folie de Fleurs
1920  Folie d'Opium
1920  Douce Melodie

Below is the perfume bottle for Ambre de Nubie.  The bottle is in the shape of a lion canonic jar and was made by Baccarat glass.  The poster advert is from 1920, the year it was launched.

Image via Pinterest
Image via Pinterest


Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

Book Review

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers 
by Mary Roach 
Penguin Books 2003

I have come rather late to reading this book; it was published way back in 2003.  It was recommended to me by a friend, who knew that it would interest me as a researcher of 19th century Egyptian mummies and the strange uses they were subjected to.  She was not wrong – I found it immensely readable and couldn’t put it down. Stiff is an unlikely compelling book about what happens to our bodies when we die.  For thousands of years corpses have been subjected to numerous uses, be it for safety experiments such as reducing the impact of car crashes, used as fertilizer (yes…really!), medical cures (spoiler: eating human remains was one method of “curing” illnesses), or for scientific studies to name just a few.  Mary Roach’s book covers them all with a bold, curious and at times witty, journey into this largely unspoken world.

Television shows such as C.S.I., Silent Witness and Six Feet Under, give us glimpses into autopsies and funeral preparation, but there is so much more to know about the fate of bodies once the people they once were have gone.  Roach covers them all, seeking interviews with people engaged in these fields, and not being afraid to ask questions that we all secretly want to ask.  It is a well-researched book whose chapters cover a wide range of areas such as using human remains in surgery, testing injury tolerance, there is a discussion on the history of body snatching and information on how throughout the centuries dead bodies have been used for the advancement of medical science.  There is a chapter covering the use of remains to determine the authenticity of the Turin Shroud.  Human decay is also covered, as is a captivating discussion on the moral argument of when death occurs and in what part of the body the soul is seated.  Roach also looks at what it means to donate your body to science and where you may eventually end up.  Her marvelous footnotes add to the narrative, providing fascinating (and often funny but respectful) asides.

Roach can often be colourful with her descriptions and her style may be somewhat flippant for some readers. Also Stiff pulls no punches and those of a delicate stomach may wish to veto it on these grounds.  I however found it fascinating – it made me laugh (unusually, given the subject matter!), made me angry (experiments on animals strangely enough) and gave me plenty of food for thought, especially as to how I want my own body to be disposed of.  The book gives a unique approach to talking about issues that surround the subject of death and Roach really touches on what makes us human.  Ultimately Stiff leads you to ponder over the human race’s often-irrational attachment to the physical self. 

Mary Roach has written six books including Stiff:

Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife (2005) (published in some markets as Six Feet Over: Adventures in the Afterlife)

My Planet: Finding Humor in the Oddest Places

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Afternoon Tea at the Pyramid

This photograph really evokes a past elegance of travel to Egypt

View from a guest room in the late 1920s at Mena House, Egypt
Image via Mena House Hotel

Thursday, 21 April 2016

At the Mummies Ball

Sheet music for At The Mummies Ball (1921)
Would love to hear this played!

Photo by megaeralorenz on Flickr