Friday 27 March 2015

Supermoon, Solar Eclipse et al, Richard III and That Was the Week That Was Post …

So much has happened in the past ten days or so … I’ll touch on a few of the celestial happenings in recent days and 529 years ago …

Images of the Aurora Australis and Aurora Borealis
from around the world, including those
with rarer red and blue lights

So guess what – a shortish post (no – failed!) – but one with some links and notes to self and blogging friends … that’s there’s plenty more information where this lot came from …

Let’s start simply:

Spectacular Auroras – the sun’s magnetic field was having a frothy … to the delight of astronomers and peoples all around the world … our Northern Lights reached down to the Midlands … much further south than usual.

Black Supermoon – yes black because it occurred in daylight so we couldn’t see it … til the partial solar eclipse happened – then we knew we hadn’t lost it!  The Moon will disappear in about 600,000 years …

Jupiter Aurora: the bright spot star at far
top left connects magnetically to Io;
spots at bottom lead
to Gannymede and Europa
Clearly visible in the night sky was Jupiter with its four largest moons (Europa, Io, Gannymede, Calisto) on one side: a rare occurrence that happens once every six years.

Spring Equinox – when our days in the northern hemisphere get longer – lovely longer days and our clocks go back on Saturday/Sunday night ... long evenings will be here!

Spring Tides – the sun and moon affect the tidal range … and when there is a rare alignment between them (every 18 years) … these become very high tides.

  • The Severn Bore – which is a wave push of ocean water up the funnel shaped Severn Estuary into the Severn River … the height reached six foot two inches (just under 2 metres) …

Mont St Michel at very low tide

  • … while at Mont St Michel on the north coast of France, the Benedictine Abbey built on a rocky outcrop about half a mile from shore, was breached by the tidal reach of over 46 feet (14.15m) …

These Supertides, somewhat incorrectly named as “Tides of the Century”, occur every 18 years – our next one will be 3 March 2033.

Partial eclipse c/o Sun Manchester
Evening News

Solar Eclipse – for us down on the south coast this was a partial eclipse: 85% - a brief darkening … but further north the eclipse covered more.

  • An email from a blogging friend in South Africa saying it was amazing she was on Sky tv watching the eclipse at Newquay in Cornwall!  My reply: I was sitting in cloud in Eastbourne!

  • For the 1999 eclipse I was with friends in Newport Pagnell, having a social, and though we weren’t in the best part of the UK … the effects were amazing.  Cold, damp, gloomy, silence as the birds disappeared … eerie … but wonderful to have seen.

The moon tinted reddish,
during a lunar eclipse

  • Next eclipse here in the UK will be a partial one on 26 August 2016, or we’ll have to wait for a total one in 2090!?!

  • Next total eclipse in the States will be in a corridor stretching from Oregon to South Carolina on 21 August 2017 – school holidays and obviously will be a partial eclipse elsewhere.

Stargazing Live  (BBC2) with Brian Cox and Dara O’Briain– the tv programme monitoring the Eclipse and all celestial wonders … told us plenty (plenty!) of unusual and interesting things about life up there and down here …

Telerobotics, Haptics and Human Robot Interfaces to be used in Space Exploration … robots we know … (ESA Telerobotics site

Exo Skeleton from ESA Telrobotics site

  • but haptics interested me … the technology of touch – our tactile sense of for example the hand, fully relying on what we’re feeling, not seeing; (the example used was tying our shoe laces under a table – we could do that without looking).

  • In space our use of touch is different – so haptics will be adapted in the design of mechanisms to be used in space.

Moon ‘debris’ … I hadn’t realised a mirror was left during the first Apollo landing, allowing scientists to bounce laser images off it – telling us that the moon is moving away from earth at a rate of two and half inches (3.7 cm) a year …

  • … its gravitational pull will have gone in 600,000 years … while if the sun hasn’t subsumed it, it will take about 5 – 6 million years to fade away into infinity.

Picture of the Sun in extreme ultraviolet
showing its turbulent surface

Lots of facts about the sun to be had … we can’t see most of it – as we can only see visible light (not the electromagnetic spectrum: eg infrared, nor ultraviolet) … technology allows us to see that the sun is much bigger than the disc we see in the sky.

  • Usually as we move away from a heat source it gets cooler … not so the sun … the temperature in the sun’s atmosphere is 100 times hotter than at its surface.

The zodiac has changed – the stars the ancients used are different to the ones we see today … not sure what we do about our horoscopes!  There's a new star sign: Ophiuchus ... see table in Wiki 

Future Earth - BBC TImeline - the sun has created
merry fiery hell here and we've long gone

We owe everything to that central star of our Solar System – the sun – for our light, warmth, energy and life … and it will be around for another few billion years … 

... before it becomes a red giant and expands out into the solar system swallowing earth in its dying process

The scientists are finding out so much and expanding our minds to new dimensions …

The Pall cloth, and crown for Richard III's
burial - half a millennium after his death.
… yet this past week or so scientists, passionate historians, archaeologists, the public from places as far afield as Australia, the Americas, South India, Kyrgyzstan, Europe and plenty of Brits, clerics, scientists, celebrities, royalty and nobility have all gathered in the city of Leicester to participate in and record the extraordinary and unique re-interment of Richard III (1452 – 1485) …

… Richard who was born a Catholic and died before the Reformation took place brought together the professionals to choose appropriate Services for his journey from the University via the battle field at Bosworth, where he died, into the hands of the Church at Leicester Cathedral next to the Friary where he was buried in haste 529 years ago.

Mounted armoured knights accompanied
Richard III from the University to the Cathedral
Henry VIII (1491 – 1547) ordered the destruction of the Friary under state-enforced Dissolution of the Monasteries … so Richard’s grave was presumed lost forever … miracles do occur … and in one of those believe it or not stories … they did find his remains under the municipal car park on just about the first dig: extraordinary.

A Solar Eclipse happened the day Queen Anne Neville died, Richard III’s wife, while there was a lunar eclipse after the warrior king’s death at Bosworth … coincidence we had a solar eclipse in 2015 the Friday before the start of Richard’s skeletal removal from the University to his final resting place in Leicester Cathedral.

Grey Friars accompanied Richard's hearse
at the Battle of Bosworth Field

Celestial happenings for the Plantagenet King’s Church of England reburial – both then and now – in a city that is the multi-cultural centre of England

Well that was the week and a bit that was … lots more information in my notes and I’ll put some links up …

Richard III - they believe he was
more likely to be blond
While the last medieval king finally gains honour in death five centuries on … in a totally British 21st century way – a unique occasion …

An incredible week in our history, which has captured the nation's imagination ... 

Ros Adams has written a children's book on Richard III and she has a series of posts up about her experience, as she was involved in many things in Leicester ... 

There's a detailed and comprehensive report of King Richard's Reinterment Service and extra information ... the poem, the Queen's message, the Eulogy, the Sermon ... and details of the Service etc - as well as lots of photos ... 

My main interest was the detail about the Catholic reburial service being 'common' in the late 14th C to early 16th C ... before Henry VIII's Reformation and the phasing in of The Church of England through Elizabeth I's reign ... 

Addendum:  I've been asked about Blood Moons .. the information is all contained here .. and yes there is a Blood Moon soon ... 

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Monday 23 March 2015

Dynnargh Dhis … to my blog and the A – Z Challenge Theme Reveal …

Guessed what it is yet?  Simple really … Welcome

… to Aspects of British Cornish … some form of … my usual eclectic mix of history, odds and ends, areas I love, alphabet letters that fit!, images, culture, some educational bits and bobs …

… wherever my head takes me – I planned this a year ago … did I get beyond the title sheet … no, not even the index … so what will come up will come up and surprise me, let alone you …

Funny names for beautiful tiny harbours

I always enjoy it … and I see lots of bloggers have been revealing themselves today ... more to follow I expect! …

Tintagel Castle of Arthurian Legend

Have fun, make new friendsI always seem to meet some great buddies leave pertinent comments, don’t stress, learn lots be creative

Live and let live … and I will sincerely try and keep mine short – but writing about things you love is somewhat difficult …

"A Fish Sale" by Stanhope A Forbes (1884/85)

Tereba Nessa …  until next time! ….

Crown Mines, Botallack

Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Tuesday 17 March 2015

Scarves from Stones … ? Rock Chips onto Silk …?

Liberty & Co of Regent Street – the iconic luxury goods Department Store … sets its Christmas style in January … and no doubt much earlier in its planning mode.

Liberty, Regent Street

The store was featured on tv (Channel 4) going through this process which I found it fascinating ... because we saw the store, learnt more about retailing … and how difficult life is working and selling from a listed building … and I would say not just any listed building ...

Potential suppliers plied their wares – presented their business plan and products to the store’s buyers, managing director etc … the one that caught my eye … had based his scarves on nature … I love geology – it covers so much … and here it was combined with creativity.

Birth stone for June

Richard Weston, an architect by trade, but who loves minerals and the artistic designs nature gives us in rocks, stones, granite cliffs … developed a way of creating these stunning images.

Slab of Munjina mudstone, Western Australia

This is one of those feel good stories … utilising our 21st century digital technology, taking those images and turning them into scarves … finding himself in the eye of the storm … every which way the company turned, the scarves became best sellers.

Munjina Stone Scarf

Turn your world upside down or inside out … who would think about scanning the inside of Munjina Stone, or Labradorite … then creating images to hang as pictures, or as clothes, or as satin silk scarves … printed in Italy.

The scarves took off at Liberty … they are now stocked by Harrods, Harvey Nichols, Fortnum and Mason, and other leading stores here and in France, Italy, USA, Australia, Japan etc


The new visitor centre at Stonehenge was being opened … why not stock Stonehenge scarves??  English Heritage, who run the site, weren’t keen on bits being chipped off the old blocks – understandable perhaps …

Scarf from those Stonehenge

… however, where there’s a will there’s a way …. the British Geological Survey does have specimens collected by the great Victorian mineralogist, Matthew Forster Heddle, and with help from the Open University, these chips from Stonehenge were digitally scanned to produce images that could be used for scarves.

As Richard says “Our scarves, for example, come from rock billions of years old, use silk produced as it has been for millennia, yet depends on printing presses only commercially efficient for the last ten years or so.”

(a Feldspar mineral)
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder … but that creative force has to be found to turn those “black-fire diamonds” into the magnificent spectral colours we see today – we needed the Huguenots in 17th century Antwerp to realise that a diamond will cut another diamond … painting was no longer needed: see my previous post for the context.

Polished Labradorite, per
UCL Geology Collection

As here we need a Richard Weston – who has the temerity to follow his passion, and turn his vision into a completely new business venture …

Vogue has described him as that middle-aged Professor of Architecture who is the new talent in British fashion …

Daisies in Copper
c/o Weston Graphics

He has a video blog, all the posts are fascinating to watch and listen to … as is viewing his website … with many more wonderful images and educative information …

Liberty & Co from Argyle Street
Creativity is here all the time – but frankly nature has the best of the lot and it is springing now … Spring time, our planets still evolve giving us new earth … I think this post should get our creative juices thinking … and I hope flowing ... there’s hope for us all.

Weston Earth Images – Richard Weston’s site on the process and products

Richard Weston’s Video Blog 

Richard Weston's video on Labradorite ... and his explanation of Labradorescence .... wonderful iridescence colours - full range: turquoise as here, to reds, oranges, golds etc ... 

English Heritage’s site for its Stonehenge shop

Previous post – Cheapside Hoard … with many gems …

Spring vegetables

… and finally happy St Patrick’s Day … have fun ... not too much green, nor Guinness, but...

May the leprechauns be near you,
To spread luck along your way.
And may all the Irish angels,
Smile upon you St Patrick's Day.

sent from Lenny, who is still recovering ... 

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Wednesday 11 March 2015

Cheapside Hoard: Goldsmiths, Bankers, Jewellers, Pawnbrokers and Toymen …

Our knowledge of gems of the Tudor, Elizabethan and Jacobean eras is from the portraits painted reflecting the wealth of the individual … together with documentary sources … but little actual jewellery.

Some of the many gemstones

The power dresser of the time was Elizabeth I (1533 – 1603) … who had scattered her glad-rags with the jewels of the day and ensured symbols also appeared in the portraits informing courtiers and populace alike that she was the Queen of England and its realms.

Pearls were the jewels of the 1500s, while the herbalists pounded and smashed all manner of ‘delights’ including pearls – whose white powder became much like aspirin today.  Holly of I AM HR Sinclair has a Writer’sGuide to Crystals and Gemstones.

Elizabeth 1 painted after the defeat
of the Spanish Armada in 1588

Elizabeth 1 had black diamonds on her dresses (they were painted black) and were called ‘black fire’ … the Hugenots in 17th C Antwerp finally found the magic in diamonds … by cutting one diamond with another.

Elizabeth used other status symbols – her hand resting on a globe: ruling the known world; her black dress was a symbol of constancy, the ermine included for purity, while gold showed wealth …

As a side note – apparently the jewellery used in the costumes for Wolf Hall is spot on for that Tudor period.  I haven’t watched the series yet, as it started too soon after the operation for me to concentrate.

Cheapside 1909

Cheapside, where the Hoard was found, is a common English street name, meaning “market place”, and has spawned the words chapman and chapbook … seemingly derived from the word for itinerant salesmen, who would sell such books: chapman.  Chapman comes in turn from Old English cēap (barter, business, dealing).

As Charles Dickens, Jr. wrote in his 1879 book Dickens’s Dictionary of London (c/oWikipedia):  Cheapside remains now what it was five centuries ago, the greatest thoroughfare in the City of London.

(1538) Edward V1's Procession - along Cheapside

At its west end near St Paul’s Cathedral, the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths still plies its trade: Originating in the 12th century, it received its Royal Charter in 1327.

The range of a goldsmith’s trade was somewhat wider than might be imagined covering: goldsmiths with bankers and jewellers; bankers with goldsmiths and pawnbrokers; jewellers with goldsmiths and toymen.

The new buildings erected after the Great Fire of 1666, altered and added to, were so higgledy-piggledy and ramshackle that the Goldsmiths in 1910 decided to raze some of them.

An unusual clause was inserted into the agreement, and provision was made for any antique treasure that might be uncovered … be the property of the lessors: the Goldsmiths.

The Cheapside cache

Demolition began – the workmen discovered a tangled heap of jewellery, gems and other precious objects … they had uncovered what we know today as the Cheapside Hoard: the stock-in-trade of a seventeenth jeweller.

The workmen unaware of any judicial arrangements … did what they did with any trinkets/coinage etc they uncovered … took their find to “Stony Jack” Lawrence (1862-1939): a pawnbroker, dealer, collector of antiquities and sometime employee of both the Guildhall and London museums … announcing “We’ve struck a toy shop, I thinks guvnor!”

A gold pin with a blister pearl
in the form of a ship with fine
gold wire mast and rigging

Workmanship reflected in the variety of stones, enamelling and settings … all serve to underline London’s position at the crossroads of international gem and jewellery trade in one of the most dynamic periods of English history: stones found included …

  • Emeralds from Colombia
  • Bohemian and Hungarian opal, garnet and amethyst
  • Topaz and Amazonite from Brazil
  • Indian diamonds
  • Burmese rubies
  • Sri Lankan pink sapphires
  • Afghan lapis lazuli
  • Persian turquoise
  • Pearls from Bahrain
  • Peridot from the Red Sea
  • Cameos
  • Gold, amethysts, cabochon azurite-malachite gem ... while relatively few pearls survived after being buried for approximately 350 years.
  • Some fake gemstones made of carved and dyed quartz …

Enamelled chains
This tangled magical treasure trove … was eventually unravelled – most of the Hoard going to the new London Museum (under the auspices of the Goldsmiths), while the two established institutions the British Museum received some pieces, with the Victoria and Albert being donated a few …

We know the history – who ruled, what was going on, while research into the stash of jewellery and artefacts revealed probably the time frame.

Ferlite watch on left, and the
incredible Emerald-cased watch

A highly sophisticated watch by Gaultier Ferlite – bears the maker’s mark … and was almost certainly made in Geneva between 1610 and 1620.  Ferlite’s parents had lived in London.

Viscount Stafford's
A tiny red cornelian seal can be attributed to William Howard, 1st Viscount Stafford, who as a catholic had fled abroad … suggesting that the Hoard was buried in the cellar after 1640/41 at the start of the English Civil Wars …

… when the turbulent times of the 16th and 17th centuries had taken their toll on the populace of London: the Civil Wars and plague had taken the men, who traded and worked here … the treasure trove lay forgotten … and was subsequently subsumed by the Great Fire of 1666.

Gold Enamelled brooch set with
diamonds and amethysts
This is the story of the Cheapside Hoard … which has led researchers to uncover unknown facts, for us to be able to see a large collection of Elizabethan and Jacobean jewellery in its finest settings and for the first time … and they unravelled the Cheapside Hoard’s imbroglio.

Exquisite scent bottle: Enamelled gold, opals,
opaline chalcedony, diamonds, rubies,
pink sapphires and spinels
The Jewellery Editor has a short video just over 3 mins, a write up and some other photos of the display jewels.

Museum of London - will show you any number of postcards and prints

The Cheapside Hoard: London's Lost Jewels by Hazel Forsyth - this book has amazing information about the hoard, that period of history, the jewels and their origins, the method of making the jewellery, Cheapside, trade and the world relative to the hoard.  A worthwhile purchase and read.

Article for The Goldsmiths' Company by Dr David Mitchell

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories