Thursday, July 24, 2008

£10,000 lead theft at church

A churchwarden has hit out after lead was stripped from a roof.

Thieves stole lead worth between £5,000 and £10,000 from St John the Baptist Church in North Luffenham last Monday night. Lead was taken from 10 of the church's 26 bays along the north transept of the building. Church warden Janet Whittaker discovered the theft last Tuesday.

She said: "We are all frustrated and disappointed but it's a sign of the times we live in. It's just sad that someone feels they can do this to a medieval building with so much history."

Volunteers patched up the roof with tarpaulin last week to stop the rain getting into the church and workmen were called out to make it more secure, but the proper repairs might not be done until Christmas.

The church committee expect it to take that long to sort out the insurance and will be reviewing its security over the next few months.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Today in the Middle Ages

19 July, 1374 - Francis Petrarch dies...

... and the world rejoiced.

Archaeologists find 600-year-old chess piece in northwest Russia

Archaeologists in northwest Russia have discovered a chess piece dating back to the late 14th century, a spokesman for local archaeologists said on Friday.

"The king, around several centimeters tall, is made of solid wood, possibly of juniper," the spokesman said.

The excavations are being carried out at the site of the Palace of Facets, in the Novgorod Kremlin in Veliky Novgorod. The palace is believed to be the oldest in Russia.

According to the city chronicles, chess as a competitive game emerged in Veliky Novgorod, the foremost historic city in northwest Russia, in the 13th century, but was banned in 1286 by the church.

However, besides the king, archeologists in the region have found a total of 82 chess pieces dating back to at least the 14th century, showing that the game remained popular among the local population despite the church ban.

In late May, archaeologists in the ancient city uncovered a number of medieval baby bottles. Medieval Slavs made feeding bottles by attaching leather bags to the wider part of a cow's horn. The babies drank milk from holes made in the tip of the horns.

The first historical mention of Veliky Novgorod was in 859 AD. City chronicles say that by 862 AD it was already a stop on the trading route between the Baltics and Byzantium.
The city will celebrate its 1150th anniversary in 2009.

Medieval churches face threat of closure

Several medieval churches in one of the most beautiful corners of Britain are under threat of closure due to a lack of funding for repairs.

Tucked in and around Snowdonia, in north-west Wales, the churches all commemorate significant points in Welsh history and culture, but need hundreds of thousands of pounds for restoration work.

The Venerable Wyn Rowlands, the archdeacon of Meirionnydd, said: "We just don't know what the future holds. It is very important to keep them open."

Around 8,000 people, including Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, have pledged support for The Sunday Telegraph's campaign aimed at keeping churches at the heart of community life.

Among the buildings under threat are: St Cadfarch, in Penegoes, home to a monument to the landscape artist Richard Wilson, one of the founders of the Royal Academy; St Tydecho, in Mallwyd, which dates back to the 14th century and houses a memorial to the renaissance scholar Dr John Davies, who was responsible for a 1620 revised translation of the Bible into Welsh; and St Ust & Dyfrig in Llanwrin, which has some of the best medieval stained glass from the late 15th ­century.


Saturday, July 12, 2008

A Diverting Image

So diverting, it's distracting me from what I should be doing.

A castle in Ayr - with a house thrown in

£2.5m gets you a medieval castle with a 'free' Regency house

This Scottish castle is set in a lush landscape of gently rolling hills with belts of sheltering trees. Yet despite the extensive views in every direction, Cassillis (pronounced “Cassles”) is virtually invisible, lost amid 235 acres of woods even though it is only seven miles from Ayr.

For £2.5 million you are effectively buying two castles. The first is a medieval tower house, five storeys high, with immensely thick walls and the Scottish corner turrets known as bartisans. The second adjoins the original fortress and is a comfortable Regency house in the castle style, built of warm brown stone. The architects are thought to have been William Burn and David Bryce, the most celebrated exponents of Scottish baronial style.

Splendid balustraded steps lead up to the front door; a further short flight links upper and lower halls, allowing you to stand grandly at the top as your guests arrive. This is the place for stout walking sticks and impressive rows of Wellington boots.

For two centuries Cassillis has served as a fishing lodge attached to the seat of the Marquesses of Ailsa at Culzean Castle. The main floor of Cassillis consists of three big rooms, beginning with an inner hall. On the right is a handsome 14ft-high drawing room, with two immense bay windows that are almost as tall as doorways.

The dining room on the other side of the hall is of equally grand proportions. Designed for large house parties, it calls for a stately sideboard and silver dishes of scrambled eggs, kidneys and sausages at breakfast time.

Behind is a butler's pantry with steps down to a large, but still feudal, kitchen realm with Victorian cooking range, servants' hall and housekeeper's room. The guest bedrooms at the top are cosy. The main bedrooms, with lofty four-posters, are in the medieval tower. This is approached by the castle's showpiece: a broad, 17th-century spiral staircase that ascends around a central hollow core, looking like a lighthouse, complete with windows.

Above the two main bedrooms stood the grand hall of the tower house. It is now divided into a ballroom decorated with Highland cutlasses, and a library where bookshelves have little leather pelmets to stop dust collecting on the books.

The River Doon flows through the grounds, providing two miles of salmon and sea-trout fishing. The stable block provides garaging; the adjoining coachhouse has four bedrooms, and the stable cottage two bedrooms.

Cassillis has been the property of the turbulent Kennedy family since the 13th century. Their history, wrote the castle historian Nigel Tranter, “was one long catalogue of violence, savagery and sudden death”.

Today Cassillis is a peaceful place where, the family land agent says, “all you hear is the sound of sand- pipers and chaffinches”. After the death of her husband in 1994, the Marchioness of Ailsa lived on at the castle until her own death at the age of 91 last year. By this time her siblings were well established in homes near by and none choose to live in the castle. Hence the rare opportunity to buy a true stately home from the family that has lived in it for seven centuries.

Fast facts

What you get: Category A listed castle, five reception rooms, 12 bedrooms, 295 acres of woods and parkland.

Where is it: Seven miles from Ayr, 42 from Glasgow and 93 from Edinburgh. Price: £2.5 million

Iconic she-wolf nurtures a Roman archaeological mystery

Experts consider theory that statue long thought to be as ancient as city is centuries younger

She suckled Rome's legendary twin founders and fed Benito Mussolini's ambitious dreams of renewed imperial glory.

For centuries, Lupa – "She-wolf" in Latin and Italian – has been a powerful Roman symbol. But some now contend that Lupa, a supposedly Etruscan bronze, the star of a city museum on Capitoline Hill, might be centuries younger.

"It's decisively medieval," says Anna Maria Carruba, a researcher who first studied Lupa when she worked on its restoration a decade ago.

"As I went ahead with my research, I was ever more sure."

The Etruscan period ran from the 11th to 1st century BC; medieval times ran from AD 500 to 1500.

If Carruba is correct, the statue could be more than 1,000 years younger than previously thought. The Capitoline Museums' website says Lupa is from the 5th century BC and was Pope Sixtus IV's gift to the museum in 1471.

Added separately, in the early 1500s, were the bronze figures of Romulus and Remus, the twin founders of Rome who legend says were abandoned on the bank of the Tiber River and survived only because a she-wolf nursed them.

The almost metre-tall bronze is the centerpiece of a museum room named for it. Postcards and T-shirts of Lupa are popular Roman souvenirs. Mussolini used the image in Fascist propaganda to push for a return to ancient Roman glory.

In a front-page La Repubblica article this week, Adriano La Regina, who for decades led the national archaeological office for Rome, suggested Capitoline Museums is reluctant to release test results indicating the bronze is medieval.

"The new information about the epoch of the Capitoline bronze has been held back for about a year now from the public and experts," La Regina wrote.

Claudio Parisi Presicce, director of the city-run museums, insisted his institution is not trying to hide data that could subtract centuries from the she-wolf's provenance.

Data "aren't definitive yet, and we hope we can succeed in giving a definitive date" to the statue through carbon dating later this year, Parisi Presicce told news agency ANSA.

Carruba said carbon dating of bits of dirt and clay indicate Lupa was cast in 7th or 8th century AD using techniques for casting bronze developed in medieval times.

But some experts are skeptical.

Alessandro Naso, an Etruscan expert at the University of Molise, said Carruba's conclusion "that it isn't ancient is based on indirect proof ... arguments for the medieval are weak."

Archaeologist Nicoletta Pagliardi said Lupa's origins "are really uncertain."

With the statue "manhandled'' over many centuries, she said, carbon dating might be testing substances that contaminated the bronze long after its creation.

Parisi Presicce, the Capitoline Museums ' director, said that in medieval times, Rome's symbol was considered to be a lion, weakening arguments that Lupa was made during that period.

Carruba said her theory that Lupa isn't Etruscan does not diminish its mystique.

"It's an amazing, fascinating, majestic sculpture."

Monday, July 7, 2008


CIA... after me... Opus Dei... help... they going to kill m...............

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Today in the Middle Ages

6 June, 1348 - Papal bull of Pope Clement VI which protected Jews during the Black Death.

See, the Middle Ages weren't a backwards time of religious persecution...

Also on 6 June, 1415 - Jan Hus is burned at the stake.

Oh, well maybe there was a little religious persecution. Well one out of two ain't bad.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Thieves prise relics out of cathedral altar in Germany

Thieves ignoring an age-old ban on sacrilege have stolen saintly relics in an ivory case from the altar of a German cathedral, police and Catholic officials said Monday.

Ulrich Lota, a spokesman for the diocese of Essen, said the theft must have happened between 8 pm, when the last Sunday mass finished, and 9 pm, when the caretaker locked the cathedral so he could watch Spain beat Germany 1-0 in the European football final.

By Catholic tradition, fragments of the bones of ancient holy people are cemented into the surface of altars to consecrate them.

Essen's relics came from the skeletons of Maternus, Liborius and Liudger, three early medieval bishops of the German dioceses of Cologne, Paderborn and Muenster.

The ivory box, set into a pit in the altar, had gold inlays and was studded with 50 jewels including topaz and amethysts.

Lota voiced outrage at the loss of a bond to the past, saying the box had been made 50 years ago, when the diocese of Essen was founded. The cathedral is its chief church. He estimated the cash value of the case at more than 10,000 euros (15,500 dollars).

Tuesday, July 1, 2008