A great site

Katherine, daughter of Edward IV….

Elizabeth-Woodville-daughters-of-Edward-IVKatherine is second from the right

This ( is about Katherine, daughter of Edward IV. It’s a bit iffy about Richard. For instance, here’s a quotation about her pitiful existence at the time in 1483, when Katherine’s mother, Elizabeth Woodville, fled into sanctuary at Westminster Abbey…um, taking a load of treasure with her!

“…Katherine of York had begun 1483 as a princess living in luxury in palaces. Now she relied on the charity of strangers to keep herself alive…”

What? In comfortable Cheneygates with grasping Elizabeth Woodville? I think not!


The biggest Viking silver hoard ever found in Britain….

Cuerdale Hoard - a selection of what was found

Part of the Cuerdale Hoard in the British Museum

Read more…

Richard III expert to help determine if headless skeleton is the ‘hero’ of Jamestown….

Jamestown skelly

Nothing to do with Richard—except obliquely—but the parallels are interesting anyway.

One of the earliest maps of Britain is now online….

Gough Map

The Gough Map is internationally famous as one of the earliest maps of Britain. Because of some overwriting, it has been dated between 1370(ish) and the 15th century. Now it is available online, and can be searched using modern place-names. At first it looks confusing, but if you remember that it is not the conventional map, indicating north, it becomes simpler. Just imagine England and Wales are lying face-down, with Scotland away to the left, and Cornwall away to the bottom-right.


da Vinci and the RAF centenary

Leonardo di ser Piero “da Vinci” (below left) was nearly six months older than Richard III, having been born in the Republic of Florence on 15 April 1452. Over his lifetime, which ended in 1519, he is best known for his paintings, such as The Last Supper or la Gioconda. However, he also left us a number of remarkable engineering and other sketches, depicting human and animal biology, geology and devices, including flying machines. The anatomical diagrams would have contributed towards the quality of his portraits in the same way that Stubbs studied the physiology of horses.

On the right is his 1488 design for a flying machine. In this, the centenary of the Armistice and of the RAF, it is interesting to compare it with aircraft from the First World War and to note that Leonardo also theoretically described a parachute, a concept with which later pilots would be very familiar.

An example (left) is the (French) Nieuport Fighter. 

Why bury a chest of books….?

Here is a puzzle, circa 1400. Why would a usurped king’s half-brother bury a chest of books in the ground at the church in his Devon estate? The usurped king was Richard II, the half-brother John Holand, Earl of Huntingdon (had been Duke of Exeter), the Devon estate Dartington.

Dartington - for Chest of Books buzz

This was just before Holand joined the Epiphany Rising against Richard’s murderer and usurper, Henry IV – a rebellion he, Holand, did not survive. The titles of the books are not known, but apparently the key to the chest is still in existence.


The 15th century tower is all that remains of the church, which is adjacent to Dartington Hall, only a few steps from Holand’s private apartments in the main house.

I learned of this strange activity in “William called Long Will” by Michael Bennett:-

“More intriguingly, he [Holland] was the owner of a chest full of books that, prior to the conspiracy that led to his execution in 1400, he hid in the ground in Dartington church.63

63The titles of the books are not recorded. The label to the key to the chest is extant in the exchequer records (Clavis de quadam cista plena diversis libris qui fuerunt Iohannis nuper comitis de Huntingdon in terra absconditur in ecclesia de Dartyngton in comitatu Devonie): Kew, TNA, E 101/699/25.”

If anyone has any ideas – other than Holand’s desire to prevent the books from falling into other hands – please comment. It doesn’t seem that he buried other valuables at the same time, just the books.

The Bayeux Tapestry – in action….!

If you haven’t seen this before, it’s well worth watching. Very clever.

A new tool uses DNA to predict eye, hair, skin colour…

New DNA tool

A new tool uses DNA to predict eye, hair, skin colour …

Quote from the above article: “The tool has been used by law enforcement in the Netherlands, Poland, and Australia, but it has not yet been adopted in the United States, Walsh said. It has also been used on ancient DNA, and it was used to determine that King Richard III had blue eyes and blond hair.”

Ah, but was he blond as a child? Or throughout into manhood? And just how accurate is all this anyway?

Sun-Pebbles, Stakes and Skulls: Woodbridge’s Super-Henge

In the world of British archaeology, there has been a major find near Woodbridge in Suffolk of a large Neolithic henge/ritual complex. Now where I live, henges and causewayed camps  are a dime a dozen; you can hardly stick a spade in the ground without hitting prehistoric finds…however, this latest one in Suffolk is a little different to any discovered thus far and may be regarded of international importance. Due to the preservative nature of the local soil, organics have survived (extremely rare for this period), including a trackway into the monument and a series of wooden stakes that are so complete and undamaged, you can still see the cutmarks of the axes that hewed them.

Another amazing find has been the skull of an aurochs, a huge prehistoric cow the size of a bison. Very surly and mean-tempered, these beasts were particularly hunted in the preceding Mesolithic period; one of them could feed an entire tribe. The skull at Woodbridge henge is unique in that it has been modified,  with a hole bored into the base; it may have been either carried in procession on a pole or worn as some kind of a headdress (although such a headdress would have been immensely heavy.) Even more fascinating is that the radio carbon dates place its age at 2000 years before the Neolithic monument was built–therefore, the aurochs had indeed lived and died in the earlier Mesolithic period. Was this an ancient trophy, an ancestral, tribal totem borne in procession time out of mind? It is  interesting to compare  this deposit to the cremated human remains at Stonehenge, many of which were  people who had died several hundred years prior to their actual interment, perhaps being ‘founder’ burials of revered ancestors.

A scattering of white pebbles was also found around the monument; this tallies with MANY other Neolithic  and Bronze Age monuments in Britain and Ireland where white pebbles (sometimes quartz) are found deliberately placed around the monuments or even used in revetments and facades (as at Newgrange.) It is surmised they may have been meant to catch the light of the sun or moon, both of which were  highly important to the ancient people of the Isles.

The old idea that these monuments were in isolation to each other and prehistoric folk did not know what was going on over the next hill is a rapidly dying one–another fallacy cast out by science and open-minded study.


Suffolk neolithic site

Barbed and tanged arrowhead found on site. Aurochs skull with bored hole.

How the House of Mortimer was cheated….

Edmund Mortimer, 5th Earl of March

Edmund Mortimer, 5th Earl of March

Here’s how the great House of Mortimer petered out and was supplanted by a Lancastrian usurper who killed the reigning king and stole his throne. Then, under the House of York, the House of Mortimer triumphed again….until, in 1485, along came another Lancastrian usurper to kill the reigning king and steal the throne…..

Never trust a Lancastrian chancer named Henry. And if you’re a king called Richard, watch your back!

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