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British Museum (Bloomsbury): Recent Acquisitions

Nature volume 143, page 553 (01 April 1939) | Download Citation



ACCESSIONS to the collections of antiquities and ethnographical objects in the British Museum (Bloomsbury) of exceptional interest were reported at the meeting of the Trustees on March 11. Of these one is a remarkably fine example of the Irish twisted gold torque, which has been accepted on loan for temporary exhibition from the Duke of Westminster. It ismade from a single bar of gold, 50 inches long and weighing 26 oz. It has been chiselled and beaten into four flanges and then twisted and bent into a circle. The ends are recurved to fit into one another to form a fastening. It is of a type characteristic of the Middle Bronze Age and dates from about 1200 B.C. It was found in 1816 at Bryn Sion Farm, Flintshire. Another accession to the Department of British Antiquities is a collection of fragments of pots of dark earthenware, freely ornamented towards the top with hatchings, pitting, and finger-nail marks, presented byMr. J. P. T. Burchell. They were excavated by him in the Ebbs-fleet Valley, Kent, at a depth of 10 ft. in strati-graphical conditions, which make it certain that this pottery is older than the neolithic period as at present understood. It is possible that this may prove to be the oldest pottery as yet found in Britain. It would seem to be connected with mesolithic types found on the Continent, such as those from the Danish kitchen-middens. It differs from British ‘Neolithic A’, and may indeed prove to be a predecessor of ‘Peterborough’ ware. Another accession of considerable archaeological interest is a human face, almost circular in outline, carved on a piece of Bath stone found near Charterhouse-on-Mendip. Ithas almond-shaped eyes and a small round hole for a mouth. It dates fromthe period of Roman occupation; but is thought to represent a native barbaric tradition. Of the ethnographical accessions the most striking is awooden totemic figure of an eagle made by the Siwash Indians of Vancouver Island. It stands about four feet high, with wings half-spread, and ispainted in gaudy colours, and has a fierce human face painted on the breast.

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