A Little Story

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Wellbeloved Reader,

I think I blogged a few months ago about a small project I’d been working on as a sampler and prototype for illuminating with gold leaf. I say I think because I’m not sure when I posted it, and can’t seem to locate it on my blog. Rest assured, happy Reader, now I have tried my luck enough to finish it, I’ll remonstrate a little here first about my lack of organisation on this blog and with that now accomplished I shall continue concerning my accomplishment of the next:

About ten years ago now after my granddad died I found among several odd papers a little notebook probably from the middle of the last century – completely unused. In there I began writing until I had put together some fifty short fables, the very first of which was titled The Three Princes. A few years later I started to get into writing poetry and in my second longest poem I turned the story into a lengthy ballad. That was probably four or five years ago now at least. I thought I had also posted that on this blog, but again the lack of organisation has left me unable to find where I likely hid it.

Oh look, poetry

Oh look, poetry

Early this year I’d discovered some heavy duty rag paper that I’d bought as part of an attempt several years ago to make ‘fake vellum’ using a shellac based varnish. It hadn’t worked particularly well so the idea was scrapped, but it had left me with about twenty sheets of very nice unused paper. I decided to put it to some use and attempt to illustrate and illuminate my own manuscript – for whatever reason at the time I chose The Three Princes as the text. This would basically be a proof of concept and, if it went well, I hoped to do more – the indulgent Reader may now judge the result.

First I had to write out the length of the poem including the introductory verse - I decided on a humanist script that by the time I had finished the work had replaced my day-to-day handwriting.

First I had to write out the length of the poem including the introductory verse – I decided on a humanist script that by the time I had finished the work had replaced my day-to-day handwriting.

I then went through and illustrated an initial at the opening of each verse.

I then went through and illustrated an initial at the opening of each verse.

To add leaf to them I then added a glare to the areas that should be gilded and left it to try.

To add leaf to them I then added a glare to the areas that should be gilded and left it to try.

Once the glare had spent an hour or so drying it became sticky and I could lay sheets of leaf over the areas, and in turn give it time to dry further and adhere the leaf to the paper.

Once the glare had spent an hour or so drying it became sticky and I could lay sheets of leaf over the areas, and in turn give it time to dry further and adhere the leaf to the paper.

Once the glare had completely dried I could rub away the excess leaf and leave it only covering the areas to which the glare had originally been applied.  The letters could then be finished with some colour.

Once the glare had completely dried I could rub away the excess leaf and leave it only covering the areas to which the glare had originally been applied. The letters could then be finished with some colour.

The paper was far too thick to make a useful book, it's something like 600gsm, but I still bound it and we'll just have to see how much it pulls itself apart and whether the glue and stitching can control such weighty pages.

The paper was far too thick to make a useful book, it’s something like 600gsm, but I still bound it and we’ll just have to see how much it pulls itself apart and whether the glue and stitching can control such weighty pages.

The binding is based on a book in my collection that was bound in Paris in about 1610, although the style is found across Europe in the closing decades of the 16th century through until about 1620.

The binding is based on a book in my collection that was bound in Paris in about 1610, although the style is found across Europe in the closing decades of the 16th century through until about 1620.

The pages actually open well, although are still clearly unusually stiff for a book - weighing something more like thick vellum pages than paper.

The pages actually open well, although are still clearly unusually stiff for a book – weighing something more like thick vellum pages than paper.

(I've already ordered another lot of lighter gauge rag paper and once that's here I may well have my next manuscript very soon)

(I’ve already ordered another lot of lighter gauge rag paper and once that’s here I may well have my next manuscript very soon)

Adieu, happy Reader!

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Autumnal Verses

Complex Reader,

I’ve quite neglected my little scrap of internet hereabouts, and hopefully soon will be filling it with a few little adventures – I’m yet to write up a single note of Chepstow, nor have I introduced Robert Wright, or thought up another reason why my book on dueling is so over-due(ling).

I’ll do a post on drawing soon too.

But for now – my very dear and much loved Reader – let me carry on with some dull rhymes, and hope that soon I’ll have something less detestable to present.

The West-Wind

All cold and through the sky last night
I heard the west-wind blow,
It charmed the grey electric light
With airs I used to know.

The sea was dull, so far away;
The mountains mute and gone.
I heard the timid notes of day
From suns that once had shone.

And thought of friends that knew me right
And things that joy had borne;
That dwindled in that west-wind night
And could not stay till morn.

I’d also had a go at just leaving my notes for another poem as raw notes and re-organising them into something roughly resembling a piece of writing. Normally I’d have turned these following dregs into something rhyming, probably mentioning lots about a sunset or some distant sea. However, instead I’ll present this pretentious jumble:

Untitled Lines

Heaven
That remarkable span of hours
that stretches to the end of days,
knitted into the cloudscape
like the thousand-faced features
of an infinite God.
Eternal before and beyond every horizon.
The summit and circumference
of all things.

Less than God
and more than man
The winding day rolls into bloom,
choked on fiery things that have borne it
and spluttering its absent wisps
beyond the deep rim of golden paradise.
A brim-full goblet of time.

And
after day and God
at last to man:
A thousand faced not in omnipotence
but in ignorance
And standing wretched
beyond the end of all things.
Content in his little daytime
and obscurity
bears the happiest things.

Adieu, dear Reader

Some Odd Poems

Charitable Reader,

For the last few days I have been happily on holiday and also unhappily ill; now allow me to rhyme a little instead:

Night, London, September

The spendthrift stars, so rich in gold,
Were distant skies and dawns untold
And night’s new easel, plain and bare,
Was fresh with unadventured air.

The treetops spoke unlikely tales
That rolled the hillsides out of Wales,
To breath beneath those clotted suns
A story fit for greenwood lungs.

Stretching back their ancient limbs
Their figures played beguiling hymns
While high the eaves of mem’ry raised
And, backwards facing, lonely gazed:

They told of Harry Monmouth’s cause
When heaven’s anvils rang with wars,
And sang a tune of King Charles’ town
Before the rebels tore him down.

They spoke in knitted oak-green tongue
Of when Paul’s new built steeples rung,
And in the bloody height of doom
When it stood bright against the gloom.

They dreamt and whispered every tale
That they had glimpsed in life’s long trail,
Of daring men and noble lords,
Of senators, and flames, and swords.

And I sat out all dreaming too
To sleep an age long over due
Beneath my quarry cleared of light;
The empty and embracing night.

The Final Hour

All of heaven with his fiery garb descended:
I knew him not but saw him plain.
He sank his heart and, sure, his day was ended
So was the happy hour, when things could start again.

It was the proper hour, when time had done his duty,
With quiet glances of the sea-wet dawn,
When things to do had passed, and day had shed his beauty
And sin had had his way with me, and left the night forlorn.

Now slow I pace through ever conquered ages
With flaming forks and terror in between;
It’s little joy for six short feet of wages
And foolish things that once had been.

Adieu, Happy Reader.

A Biography of Richard Savage

Terrific Reader,

I blogged about my new old clock the other day, and now time for a quick biography that I have put together of its creator!

Richard Savage was, by all the records we have, apparently the earliest domestic clockmaker in Shropshire. He was born on the 2nd August 1663 in Much Wenlock to William Savage, a tobacco pipe maker, and his wife Joan. The family was large – his parents had some dozen children between them – and for whatever reason Richard decided that his career should be one of clock-making. Perhaps his decision not to follow a similar path to his father was due to his father falling into debt regularly (a William Savage is constantly apparent in the Shropshire records as being called upon for debt during the interregnum – although there is nothing to say this is the same William Savage as Richard’s father).

How he learnt the trade of clockmaking is obscure, no records remain of an apprenticeship, but since no trace remains of any earlier clockmaker in the area it is likely he moved away for some years to learn the trade in the early 1680s. He must have finished this apprenticeship by 1686, when he married Elizabeth Price of Bridgenorth. It possible, though I conjecture this purely through my own happy speculation, that they met while Savage was an apprentice, since Myddleton records in his Chirk Castle Accounts that there was one Rowley living in Bridgenorth at least in 1686, a watchmaker from whom Savage could have learnt his trade. Another possibility for his apprenticeship is one Thomas Millington, a local man who worked in Shrewsbury and is recorded as a ‘Clock Mender’ as early as 1679 – Robert Weaver and John Walker were also apparently knowledgeable men who worked on repairing the town clock during this decade.

The earliest established date one of Savage’s clocks (something he rigorously engraved on his work) is 1692, when we know for sure that had returned to Much Wenlock and started up his clockmaking workshop. His early clocks are charming and very traditional, engraved with his name, the year, and commonly the name of the owner who commissioned it or who it was a gift for (several of his clocks appear to have been wedding gifts and are engraved as such).

His property in Much Wenlock seems to have been called Bridgcroft, recorded thankfully in a court record where one Elizabeth Knocke stole some plants from his garden; sadly no remnant of the place survives to our present time. It was here that on 15th September 1687 his son William was born, another son, Thomas, was born on 17th August 1690, and one Richard on an unrecorded date – there may have been further children of whom we have sadly no record.

The clock trade was clearly a successful one for Savage, and by the close of the 17th century he had moved to the county town of Shrewsbury, where his 13 year old son William was apprenticed to him in 1700. Thomas would follow this trend in 1703 aged 13, and apparently at some point the more obscure third son, Richard.

At the start of 1700 Richard may worked on Shrewsbury’s town clock, when record is made in 8th February 1700 of a payment of ‘7s 6d’ for fitting the town ‘engine’. The use of engine keeps the exact device unclear, so may have been related to some other mechanical piece within the town, but there certainly would have been a clock present that would need to be regularly maintained, since we have record of it as early as 1637. It may be that the town engine was not the same as the clock, however, since the Mayor’s accounts from the 1679 contain both the maintenance of the town clock and the town engine as separate articles.

Richard’s wife died on 7th March 1722, and after a few years, in 1726 he remarried one Margaret Jones – the commonality of whose name in those parts making her unhappily difficult to further research. This marriage lasted only two years, and this famous clockmaker of Shropshire died in 1728, probably being buried in Shrewsbury.

Adieu, dear Reader!

An Old Clock from Shropshire

Despotic Reader,

As I have happily been regaling my unhappy friends with recently, I bought a clock.

I’m not entirely sure how I ended up buying a clock, but I was searching for some old book or other online and somehow a clock appeared, and it looked amazing.

Oh look, (a bit of) a clock

Oh look, (a bit of) a clock

This majestic thing is the remains of a Lantern clock, a type of wall-hung clock popular in Europe from the early 17th century through to the early 18th. All I have here is the frame, formed of four pillars and the base and top plate, and the face. The winding hole in the front is later, and appears to be one of the remnants of it being converted to a mantle clock probably in the 19th century.

Restoring it is a project for the winter.

But who made this clock? Well, I’ve been doing some investigating.

date

The top of the dial should have contained the answer – this is where clockmakers of the period would often engrave their names and the date – but it had clearly been the pride of some long-lost owner, who had polished away all but the date, Jan: 1693, and what appeared to be a double t at the right hand side of the inscription.

I immediately searched for all clockmakers of that date whose names ended in double t, there were several including a Stephen Wilmott who had lived and worked in London. There wasn’t much to go on, and I gave up for a while.

It wasn’t until very recently, when I was researching whether a brass or iron bell was more appropriate for the clock, that I came across an auction catalogue from 2015, in it was described a curious lantern clock of similar date to mine. This clock was described as having cast iron plates at the top and bottom of the frame, the same as mine, and apparently this was a very curious thing – the usual metal being brass.

One name was associated with this particular practice – Richard Savage. I immediately started researching his clocks and, amazingly, his engraving style matched that of mine perfectly – I had my clockmaker. One particular dial even had the same double t at the end of the engraving; it is in fact a tt at the end of a mispelled Latin word fecit. This would have accompanied the clockmaker’s name to proudly immortalise his making of it.

A close up of my clock's dial

A close up of my clock’s dial

A close up of a very similar dial on another clock made by Savage a year earlier than mine

A close up of a very similar dial on another clock made by Savage a year earlier than mine

Savage is known for his charming style, and one small detail that I love about mine that does not exist on the other clocks that I have seen is the small faces engraved under the chapter ring at the bottom of the clock – Savage was known to create clocks commonly as commissions for gifts; could mine be celebrating the birth of a child? Or the quick cartoons of a newly wed couple?

Or they could just  be cherubs, a pretty popular thing in the late 1600s.

Or they could just be cherubs, a pretty popular thing in the late 1600s.

I’ll be posting a short biography of Savage soon.

Adieu, happy Reader!

Knocking Down the Shed. Probably the last part.

Redacted Reader,

Sadly, the shed is still gone, and several things as well as several other things have already been blogged about. How about some more curious things then, from more recent times?

I had access to far too many Victorian tips as a child, and spent far too long wandering around them picking up odd things. With my grandparents living in an 18th century farm house, there were also always things appearing in their flowerbeds. There were plenty of other places too that I found the most unexpected things, here we go:

We'll start with the oldest bits - this is part of a late sixteenth/early seventeenth century Bellarmine jar - an upstart cardinal who attempted to get all of western Europe excommunicated following the Protestant reformations. He wasn't liked very much, so was caricatured as a demonic bearded face on wine and beer jugs for some fifty years.

We’ll start with the oldest bits – this is part of a late sixteenth/early seventeenth century Bellarmine jug – an upstart cardinal who attempted to get all of western Europe excommunicated following the Protestant reformations. He wasn’t liked very much, so was caricatured as a demonic bearded face on wine and beer jugs for some fifty years.

This slightly later piece must have been a beach find, it was loose among several bags from Pembrokeshire. It's probably from a late 17th century salt glazed jug

This slightly later piece must have been a beach find, it was loose among several bags from Pembrokeshire. It’s probably from a late 17th century salt glazed jug

These are just two large sherds that came out of a box of pieces from Stratford-upon-Avon. It's probably 17th century ish.

These are just two large sherds that came out of a box of pieces of the same vessel from Stratford-upon-Avon. It’s probably 17th century ish, and a wonderful example of imported majolica ware that would have graced only the finest of fine tables.

There was a lot of blue and white china. An awful lot. These weren't even the largest pieces.

There was a lot of blue and white china. An awful lot. These weren’t even the largest pieces.

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A very masonic clay pipe bowl!

As a kid I had an obsession with collecting clay pipe and taking apart the shed uncovered my collection, some two and a half thousand pieces of stems and bowls of varyingly complete pipes, a few of them dating back into the 17th century. The novelty bowls were the best, and there were plenty of interesting ones including animals, faces, and even one celebrating the opening of Crystal Palace.

There were plenty of bottles - some hundred or so - including a lot of ink pots, like this one still sporting its glass stopper.

There were plenty of bottles – some hundred or so – including a lot of ink pots, like this one still sporting its glass stopper.

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Some bottles were familiar, this bottle of Gordon’s Gin is about a hundred years old.

Others were from father afield, like this one that I had found in a local victorian tip, but had been brought over from Queensland

Others were from father afield, like this one that I had found in a local Victorian tip, but had been brought over from Queensland

And then some bottles were just fascinating local examples - this one was produced in my village when phones were so scarce that

And then some bottles were just fascinating local examples – this one was produced in my village when phones were so scarce that your number could simply be Danbury 129

Another local find was this musket ball, which came from the common in Danbury where that fool Hillary had set up his ill-conceived army camp

Another local find was this musket ball, which came from the common in Danbury where that fool Hillary had set up his ill-conceived army camp

Military finds seeming to be a theme, these bullet casings came from my old primary school, where there had been a WW2 training camp

Military finds seeming to be a theme, these bullet casings came from my old primary school, where there had been a WW2 training camp

And that is it! The shed is clear, and I managed to stop myself from hoarding away too much of it again. These few things that I’ve featured here, though, along with several boxes of Roman, Medieval, and more modern things I will now have to try and find a place for, or rehome…

Adieu, happy Reader!

 

Knocking Down the Shed. Part Three.

Forthcoming Reader,

As you are hopefully now very aware on this integral subject, the shed is gone, and I’ve already blogged about some old stuff. Let’s continue (with the medieval bits).

My main area of historical interest, especially as a kid, was the middle ages – castles, knights, battles – all the sorts of things that the sensationalised parts of history encourage in the imagination of young children. So the shed just might have been full of a lot of stuff from then.

This long bit of metal was something I had really hoped I'd find - it's a window catch, but the site this one's from dates it to c1500

This long bit of metal was something I had really hoped I’d find – it’s a window catch, but the site this one’s from dates it to c1500

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This wonderful knife blade is also late medieval, but very battered – it was recovered from a spoil heap put together by a JCB so was probably damaged by the digger.

Ironwork is a tricky thing to look after – it degrades quickly in the wrong conditions (similar to decayed glass) and what state it might be in was a bit of a worry, but I was very happy and impressed that the metal had actually lasted perfectly where it had been sat for the last ten years.

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There was a surprising amount of building stone as well as brick and floortiles in the shed, this is a rather nice medieval window mullion

Good quality building materials are often scarce especially on medieval Essex sites, where a lack of stone means that pretty much everything that could be taken away and reused was. Bicknacre Priory for example, after that burned down at the start of the 19th century, was almost completely pulled down over the subsequent twenty years and used to build roads.

On one site we dug on the owner of the medieval house that stood nearby came and asked if anyone would need the bricks when the dig was over. There were so many bags of them that we’d just weigh them and put that in the report, so after that they went off and were used to repair his house!

These were two floor tiles, probably discarded having been broken when they were removed from the floor as whichever building they were in was being demolished. The one on the right still has traces of its green glaze

These are two floor tiles, likely discarded having been broken when they were removed from the floor when whichever building they were in was being demolished. The one on the right still has traces of its green glaze

A close up of a nicely decorated medieval floor tile fragment

A close up of a nicely decorated medieval floor tile fragment

Danbury was of course a famous centre of tilemaking in the Medieval period, and since these tiles were found locally they may well have been made not far from my back garden where they now (or at least did until now) reside.

There was a lot of window glass. This medieval piece still had painted hatchings across it from whatever design it once had

There was a lot of window glass. This medieval piece still had painted hatchings across it from whatever design it once had

This little thing comes from a monastic site - I didn't know what it was when I first found it, but was later told it's a stylus and could either have been used for markings on wax, or for drawing out template lines in a scriptorium

This little thing comes from a monastic site – I didn’t know what it was when I first found it, but was later told it’s a stylus and could either have been used for markings on wax, or for drawing out template lines in a scriptorium

I suppose I should close this with something nice, and of all the pieces of pot this is a particularly nice one. It's just the base of a pot, probably a storage jar or something mundane, but someone had clearly attempted to pick it up before it was fired, and left their mark!

I suppose I should close this with something nice, and of all the pieces of pot this is a particularly nice one. It’s just the base of a pot, probably a storage jar or something mundane, but someone had clearly attempted to pick it up before it was fired, and left their mark!

Adieu, Happy Reader!

A One-Eyed French Egyptian Omelette

Trusty Reader,

I mentioned the other day to a friend about needing to cook up my hangover cure, apparently they hadn’t heard me mention it before, so it’s unlikely I’ve blogged about it either. I’ll do that now then.

I am a tad hungover right now, and one of these has just given the strength to tap together this post.

Enjoy.

What you’ll need

Ingredients

  • 2 Large or 3 Medium Eggs
  • Sliced Bread, there’s no point spending time slicing bread when you’re hung over
  • Cooking Oil
  • I guess some salt and pepper if you really have time for seasoning

Kitchen things

  • Frying Pan
  • Pretty big bowl
  • Spatula
  • Fork or Whisk

What you need to do

  1. Give this recipe to someone less hungover
  2. Break one egg into the bowl and beat it
  3. Cut a hole in the middle of one slice of bread
  4. Soak one side of the slice in the egg
  5. Heat up some oil in the frying pan
  6. Once hot, drop the bread egg-side down into the pan
  7. Immediately break the second egg over the top of the slice in the pan, with the yolk in the hole
  8. Let it fry for sixty seconds or so, then flip it carefully over and briefly fry the egg.
  9. Soak one side of the second slice of bread in the egg
  10. Flip the bread in the pan again so the side with the fried egg is back on top, and lay the second slice of bread (eggy side up) on top.
  11. The pan probably needs a bit more oil in it by this point
  12. Now flip the sandwich over and fry the raw egg side for a minute or so.
  13. Break the third egg into the bowl and whisk it, then pour it over the top of the sandwich and cook it into a omelette around it, you may need to flip the sandwich again to cook the omeletted top.
  14. Put on a plate, add ketchup.

Also cures pretty much anything else that could be wrong with you.

Adieu, Dear Reader!

Knocking Down the Shed. Part Two.

Paradoxical Reader,

If you weren’t aware, the shed is now knocked down.

I figured I’d do three further small posts on what I found, starting with the very old stuff.

A rooftile, from a very old roof.

A rooftile, from a very old roof.

I’ll start with this rooftile – it’s classic L-shape and rather imperfect matrix are immediately recognisable as Roman, and in fact this could well be my first ever Roman find. I picked it up when I was about eight and for a long time was the pride of my shelf-of-very-old-things when I was a kid. It comes from Colchester, that noble capital of Cymbeline’s, and turned up in a playground that I happened to be at. (This piece was found on the same day that I picked up a beautiful piece of a coat of arms off of a Belarmine jar, which I have not seen in about fifteen years and had hoped, in vain, would appear from the shed.)

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Then, from out of a plastic bag not far away, appeared these wonderful little shaped stones – several still with the white mortar adhering to one side – Tesserae. These would have once been a part of a very fine Roman mosaic since they were very small, very well cut, and made from stone rather than broken up tile or brick.

These will have been from one of my childhood trips to Caerwent, where there are more Roman finds laying on the ground than flowers.

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The fine-ness of the previous Tesserae was all the clearer when a second bag revealed these pieces, much cruder and therefore probably from a much cheaper mosaic.

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There was a lot of old pot in the shed. A real lot. These two above pieces were a particularly nice find, though, being probably 1st or 2nd century and fitting together.

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I am definitely giving the impression that my archaeological collections here started with the Romans – of course that’s not true, there are plenty of older things than the odd bit of Roman pot. (I’ve already blogged about that.) The above pieces are two lovely flints, probably Mesolithic or Neolithic, which came off of a spoil heap from some building works that I happened to do some climbing over as a kid.

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Some things were even older – and I did spend a few years when I was really young hunting for fossils. The above is one of my favourites and I actually thought I’d got it stored somewhere safer than down the bottom of the garden. It’s a fish head, and one of the finds that when I was about nine I was encouraged to send to a local museum along with some other things to get identified. I got a note back simply confirming that I had sent them a rock – apparently they weren’t particularly knowledgeable on fossils.

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And it wouldn’t be a post on fossils if an ammonite or two didn’t make an appearance, somewhere I’ve got a few fools gold ammonites that I picked up. Not in the shed though, so no photos of them here.

I suppose I’ll do a post on the medieval things I found next.

Adieu, happy Reader!

Knocking Down the Shed. Part one.

Igneous Reader,

Like your own constitution, the fiery nature of the summer has taken my time away from my keyboard and away from this blog. At least I claim this, but I am redesigning my personal website so that may also have kept me busy. Although – happy Reader – let me blog a upon a little (now vanished) shed.

This year marks a whole 15 others since I joined my first ever archaeology club, aged 9, and it’s been over 20 years now since I started surprising relatives by digging toddler sized holes in their back gardens.

This summer was, however, the last summer for a little shed that has been sat at the bottom of our garden since me and my brother got it as a birthday present back in 1998. It started life as just a place to play in, but quickly had shelves added where odd finds appeared on display – and by the time I was ten it was basically my own museum.

When I moved bedrooms at about 14 I turfed a lot more odd finds out of my old room and into the shed, and since then it has sat pretty much undisturbed at the bottom of the garden. I moved out for university, came back, and left again – and the shed slowly began to fall down; this summer was time for the ruinous thing to go, and at last nearly two decades worth of pot, nails, tiles, bottles, and more to be sorted through.

There was a lot. Hence the title part one.

This cheeky little face was one of the first things I saw as we took off the roof and front wall of the shed - fallen off a collapsed shelf, it was an almost complete turn-of-the-century egg cup

This cheeky little face was one of the first things I saw as we took off the roof and front wall of the shed – fallen off a collapsed shelf, it was an almost complete turn-of-the-century egg cup

Collapsed shelves were the first problem to be worked out before finds could be sorted through. Ivy had pushed through the back of the shed and forced a whole load of shelves over, miraculously with nothing breaking – probably because everything had fallen off slowly together.

A hole in the roof had also let in leaves and water, so a season’s worth of dead leaves needed clearing off of things. I won’t go into the re-homing of a decade’s worth of spiders.

Some things were still carefully boxed and tissue wrapped as I'd left them when they were found - this wealth of medieval window lead comes from a spoil heap or two at the first site I dug on.

Some things were still carefully boxed and tissue wrapped as I’d left them when they were found – this wealth of medieval window lead comes from a spoil heap or two at the first site I dug on.

How did I come by all these things? Well, a lot were scavenged from gardens of friends or relatives (I had one friend as a child whose garden was full of Roman pot, and we never found out why). Other bits come from beach trips, there’s some from just along local footpaths, and more bottles than I can count from a local 19th century tip. But the real wealth of things came from spoil heaps, which my child-self was allowed to climb over and keep whatever was found since it was out of context. This was at least until on one site I found part of a Norman font dropped onto the spoil by a digger – I did report that to the dig director and for some reason he didn’t want me to keep it.

There were plenty of boxes of pottery; from pre-historic through to modern, and certainly a healthy few boxes of medieval.

There were plenty of boxes of pottery; from prehistoric through to modern, and certainly a healthy few boxes of medieval.

I was very careful from a very young age to label every single thing that I found as to where it came from – hence each box or in some cases even individual finds were accompanied by little labels, and my far too precise memory of my childhood adventures filled in any unclear gaps.

This medieval window glass comes from Beeleigh Abbey, and is the spoil-heap-recovered part of a small mountain of fragments that were found discarded in the remains of the guest wing, having been stripped of their valuable lead at the dissolution.

This medieval window glass comes from Beeleigh Abbey, and is the spoil-heap-recovered part of a small mountain of fragments that were found discarded in the remains of the guest wing, having been stripped of their valuable lead at the dissolution.

The happy Reader can kindly learn that I intend to post a few more of these little snapshots of the shed and its peculiar contents, and the little highlights – many of which I certainly had not expected to find.

Adieu, dear Reader!