In the year 1876, medicine man Sitting Bull of the Lakota (one of the three main divisions of the Sioux) was a leader at the famous battle of the Little Bighorn River, in Montana. With 650 soldiers, Lieutenant Colonel “Long Hair” Custer thought he could easily defeat 1,000 Sioux and Cheyenne warriors. This was a gross miscalculation. He was facing probably the largest group of Native American warriors ever assembled—about 3,000.
Custer split the Seventh Cavalry Regiment into three groups. Without waiting for support from the other two, his group attacked what he thought would be a vulnerable part of the Indian camp. Led by headmen Crazy Horse, Gall, and Sitting Bull, the Indians wiped out Custer and his unit of some 225 soldiers. It was a heady, if temporary victory for the Indian nations, and a bitter defeat for the U.S. Army. However, terrible revenge was only 14 years away… Continue reading The spirit of Crazy Horse ?
Starting with one simple notion, familiar motifs as used in heraldry are known to originate from early times. The question is: How early? In researching the links between Britain and the ancient near east, art and architecture, having survived, and easier to understand than cuneiform or other ancient writing forms, is an obvious place to begin.
Titanic: The Ship That Never Sank? (1998) by Robin Gardiner
‘The unthinkable about the unsinkable..(Oxford Times)
The comment made by the Oxford Times’ writer sums up the book nicely. Conspiracy theories don’t get more controversial than this. After reading the book, even if you cannot accept every conclusion, it was good to welcome a sideways look at a subject everyone seems to be an expert on, particularly as we near the centenary of this great maritime tragedy.
One of the most controversial and complex theories is that the Titanic sinking was more than a tragic accident. It was put forward by Robin Gardiner in his book, Titanic: The Ship That Never Sank? (1998). Following on from The Riddle Of The Titanic(1995), co-authored with Dan Van Der Vat, the author includes more facts to support their theory of the switch perpetrated by the White Star line, and startling evidence of the possible collusion of the British Government in a cover-up. Gardiner draws on several events and coincidences that occurred in the months, days, and hours leading up to the sinking of the Titanic, and concludes that the ship that sank was in fact the Titanic’s sister-ship RMS Olympic, disguised as the Titanic. Continue reading Titanic: The Ship That Never Sank?
Gold at Wolf’s Crag: An Inquiry into the Treasure of Fast Castle (1971) by Fred Douglas
Henry Bright (1814-1873) Fast Castle from the Sea
Fast Castle is an isolated ruin on a rugged coast south of Edinburgh, north of Berwick. It might merit little obvious attention, but a closer look through the eyes of Fred Douglas was very rewarding. It seems the cache of gold (if it exists) is no nearer to being uncovered, but the trawl through the Scottish historical sources revealed much of interest.. Continue reading Gold at Wolf’s Crag
The Mystery of the Copper Scroll of Qumran: The Essene Record of the Treasure of Akhenaten (2003) by Robert Feather
Robert Feather’s background and training as a Metallurgist and Chartered Engineer has given him a unique insight into the intricacies of ‘The Copper Scroll’, one of the most enigmatic of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Qumran lies close to the Dead Sea at its northern end, some 40 km east of Jerusalem. Here, in an incredibly dry and sun-bleached area there is, strangely enough, no need for protective sun blocker, or life-guards. Lying some 1200 feet below sea level at the lowest point on earth, the damaging rays of the sun are screened out by the extra layer of atmosphere, and the concentration of salts in the Dead Sea is so high that anyone falling in immediately rises to the surface and like a cork, cannot sink.
But why is Qumran so important in historical and biblical terms?
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, INDIA – A stream of bare-chested religious devotees step gingerly through metal detectors at the Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple in southern India as armed commandos with AK-47’s guard perhaps one of the world’s greatest treasures to surface in recent times. For months now, following a court order to pry open subterranean vaults sealed for centuries at the heart of sleepy Thiruvananthapuram, the capital of balmy Kerala state, shell-shocked experts have been coming to terms with the vast hidden hoard, estimated at one trillion Indian rupees, or $22 billion. In a nation where 500 million people live in poverty, the find has been a revelation, stoking debate over how to best safeguard and use this newly discovered wealth at a time of financial uncertainty and modernization across India.
Put in a broader context, the wealthy temple in the lush, spice-growing but relatively undeveloped Kerala, where infrastructure is patchy and per capita income lags behind the richer northern Indian states, could salvage the rickety finances of the country, lift millions out of poverty and even help wipe out a quarter of India’s overall fiscal deficit.
The treasure, a long accumulation of religious offerings to the Hindu deity Vishnu, includes a four-foot high gold idol studded with emeralds, gold and silver ornaments and sacks of diamonds.
Local legend has held that vast riches had been interred in the walls and vaults of the temple by the Maharajahs of Travancore and their subjects over many years.
70 year old retired police officer TP Sundara Rajan went to the Supreme Court asking that the state take over control of the temple, saying the current temple trust were incapable of protecting the wealth inside. The court ordered an inspection of the temple vaults..
Medieval Tiles (Shire Album) by Hans Van Lemmen (2004)
Inlaid tiles, or ‘encaustic’ tiles as they are also known, are fired clay tiles with a simple pattern such as an heraldic motif picked out in a clay inlay of a contrasting colour, usually in white on a red ground. The tiles are glazed and were originally fired in a wood burning kiln. They depend entirely upon the raw clays and glazes for their colours, and not pigments, paint or enamels. The tiles developed from about 1220 to about 1550, probably earliest on continental Europe, although the basic technique is likely of earlier Middle-eastern origin. They represent a significant development over earlier mosaic tile designs. They were probably inspired, at least in part, by the Italian marble mosaic floors, and attempts to achieve patterned floors with local materials.
Encaustic or inlaid tiles enjoyed two periods of great popularity. The first lasted until Henry the Eighth’s reformation in the 16th century, and the second came when the tiles caught the attention of craftsmen during the Victorian Gothic Revival era, who after much trial and error mass-produced these tiles, made them available to the general public. During both periods tiles were made across Western Europe though the centre of tile production was in England. Companies in the United States also made encaustic tile during the Gothic Revival architecture style’s period.
The use of the word ‘encaustic’ to describe an inlaid tile of two or more colours is technically incorrect. The word ‘encaustic’ literally means “burning in”. The term originally described a process of painting with a beeswax-based paint that was then fixed with heat. It was also applied to a process of medieval enamelling. The term did not come into use when describing tile until the 19th century. Supposedly, Victorians thought that the two-colour tiles strongly resembled enamel work and so called them encaustic. Despite the error, the term has now been in common use for so long that it is an accepted name for inlaid tile work.
In both medieval times and in the 19th and 20th Century Gothic Revival, these tiles were most often made for and laid in churches. Even tiles that were laid in secular buildings appear to be copies of those found in religious settings. Encaustic tile floors exist all over Europe but are most prevalent in England where the greatest numbers of inlaid tiles were made..
Back when plans were submitted for a building to commemorate the Millennium, which of course materialized as the Millennium Dome, I thought a full sized replica of Crystal Palace would be ideal. This story caught my attention:
“Plans for a replica of the original Crystal Palace are being worked on by architects and developers. The original building was built by Sir Joseph Paxton in Hyde Park for the Great Exhibition of 1851, 160 years ago.
After being moved to a location in Sydenham, now known as Crystal Palace Park, it was destroyed by fire in 1936. The plans for a new building, estimated to cost £220million, incorporate galleries, a snow slope, music auditorium, leisure facilities and a hotel.
They have been drawn up by the New Crystal Palace company, a consortium of local businessmen. It expects to submit the plans to Bromley council “in the next six to eight months”. Company spokesman Patrick Goff said: “We want to put the Crystal Palace back and give the park a heart again. Our plan could be entirely funded through the commercial elements, with no money needed from the public purse.”
However, a rival scheme for the park has been put forward by the Mayor’s London Development Agency. It is proposing the construction of 180 private houses in the park, despite local objections. The new homes would be built on the site of a caravan park. The £67.5million scheme also includes student accommodation, landscaping and various improvements to the park itself as well as a new regional sports centre that includes an indoor swimming pool. Plans were approved after Public Inquiry in December 2010..