Collectors pieces

Collectors pieces

Internet giant Google celebrated the 255th anniversary of the British Museum with one of its famed ‘Google Doodles’ (pictured above) – a tribute that sent millions online around the world to the museum’s website (causing it to work at a snail’s pace at the time of writing!).

The museum, credited as Britain’s number-one tourist attraction for the past six years, has expanded several times, most recently with the creation of the spectacular Queen Elizabeth II Great Court, designed by Foster & Partners and opened in 2000. The Great Court’s stunning glass roof is included in Google’s modernist interpretation, along with the museum’s Easter Island moai figure.

The huge number of exhibits make it impossible to see everything in a day, so visitors will do best to prepare with a hitlist. If you’ve been inspired by Google’s Doodle to visit or revisit, here are five unmissable British objects from inside the museum’s walls…

Sutton Hoo Ship Burial Helmet
The ornate Anglo-Saxon helmet found in Suffolk dates back to the 7th century AD. Decorative scenes are depicted on the top, but the full face-mask allows visitors to really imagine the ancient warrior inside. Elegant gold, silver and bronze features on the mask make up a great bird with outstretched wings.

The Snettisham Hoard
Snettisham, a small country village in Norfolk, has turned out to be Iron Age Britain’s jewellery box, with around 20kg of silver and 15kg of ancient gold artefacts found there between the 1940s and 1990s. The hoard is the biggest collection of ancient gold in Europe, and features the Gold Torc – composed of almost a kilo of gold and silver threads, and dating back to 70BC.

The Mildenhall Treasure
An treasure trove of intricate silver tableware, dating back to the 4th century. Wine lovers should enjoy the decoration, since most of it relates to the pagan worship of Bacchus, the Roman god of wine. The Great Dish features Oceanus, the titan of water, with dolphins in his hair and a beard formed of seaweed fronds.

The Lewis Chessmen
Discovered on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, these chessmen are carved from walrus ivory and whale’s teeth. Probably dating back to the 11th century, when chess was already a popular game across Europe, one theory is that they were lost by a merchant whose ship sunk on a journey from Norway to Ireland. When they were originally found, some time before 1831, some of the chessmen were stained red, suggesting original chess pieces were white and red, and not white and black as we know today.

The Fishpool Hoard
Much of this hoard is a huge stash of gold coins, reminiscent of the kind of thing sought after in Pirates of the Caribbean. In amongst the 1,237 coins are four exquisite pieces of jewellery and gold chains, thought to have been hidden during the first decade of the War of the Roses between the royal houses of Yorkshire and Lancashire. Hidden deep inside Sherwood Forest in the 15th century, the treasure is as evocative of this important period in Britain’s history as it is beautiful.

Guide to England

Google’s Gaudi Doodle

You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Leave a Reply