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Britain’s top burial sites?

This Sun article, which originally confused Richard’s Leicester with Henry I’s Reading, lists what they consider to be Britain’s top burial sites, although there is no detail on the supposed “Princes” in that urn, especially now that there is evidence to test the remains.

Are there any others you might have included?

The Prince of Aldi–the Prittlewell Saxon Tomb

In 2003, a Saxon burial in an intact burial chamber was unearthed between an Aldi shop  and a pub in Southend. Clearly an important person, almost certainly royalty, the items in the grave  make it the earliest Christian royal burial in England. Now, 16 years on, with conservation and studies complete, many of the items belonging to the ‘Prittlewell Prince’ are going on display in the Central Museum.

There was only one tooth remaining from the ‘prince’ himself but the array of preserved grave-goods was staggering: a lyre, a painted box that is a one of its kind, a golden belt buckle, golden crosses to cover his eyes, an iron stool, gold-decorated pottery and a sword with gold wire  around a hilt made of horn.  Parts of his coffin also survived and measurements indicate he was approximately 5ft 6.

So who was this wealthy early Christian Saxon? The best guess is that he was Saexa, the brother of King Saebert , who was King of Essex from AD604 to AD616. It was originally thought the burial might be Saebert himself but the carbon dates are slightly too early, more in keeping with the date of his brother’s death.

Some have likened this unique find to  opening King Tut’s tomb…

PRITTLEWELL PRINCE

prit.jpg

So, who were the Saxon Kings of Essex? Here’s a genealogy. Note that, unlike the more geographically distant Wuffings of East Anglia, there seems to be no family link to the House of Wessex.

 

The Art of Frances Quinn

janetS6306091frances and janetFor over five hundred years, Richard the Third has been the subject of much good and bad art.  Perhaps the most famous image is the National Portrait Gallery portrait which hangs in a prominent spot (after years of being shunted into a busy stairwell at the entryway) and has for many years intrigued casual visitors as well as historians, novelists and artists.  The sensitive portrait is so at odds with the “evil uncle” myth that it is no wonder that it has spawned everything from detective novels to an entire society devoted to finding out the true story of the last English king to die in battle.  With the discovery of his remains and the amazing reconstruction of his head and face, many talented artists (including the Finnish graphic artist, Riikka Nikko) have taken to drawing and painting his handsome face.

One of the most prolific Ricardian artists on the scene today is Frances Quinn, a Dublin-based artist whose works can be seen as the cover art of novels (particularly the work of Janet Reedman) and has won a place in British historian John Ashdown-Hill’s new book “The Mythology of Richard the Third.”  I had the chance to interview Frances and find out a little bit more about the woman behind the lovely portraits of King Richard as well as her beautiful images of horses, dogs, boars and stags – particularly her rendition of Richard’s possibly mythical stallion, White Surrey.

Frances, can you give us some background on your art education and something about your life in Ireland?

I’ve had no art training at all; I’m entirely self-taught.  Having said that, the artistic streak runs in my mother’s side of the family.  I have a cousin and an uncle who are artists as well.  I live on the outskirts of Dublin in what used to be a country village until the developers got hold of it.  I left school at seventeen and as I couldn’t afford to go to art college, I went to work in the bookmaking business.  I now work part-time, in order to spend more time at my art.

How would you describe your work?

My style of art is semi-realistic; I suppose it’s more of an illustrative style than strictly ‘art.’  I use mostly gouache and watercolours but I also use coloured pencil and occasionally water based oils – but they take too long to dry to my liking!

frances quinn

How did you get involved in illustrating books?

I used to do illustrations for fanzines in the 80s and 90s, so it was a natural progression to move to books.  I’ve done several covers and John Ashdown-Hill has used one of my paintings in his latest book on the mythology of Richard the Third.  John was here in Ireland last year to give a talk and the Irish Richard the Third group presented him with one of my paintings.  He must have liked it as he asked if he could use the painting of Richard and White Surrey.

I can see why he liked it.  Can you tell us why and when you became interested in Richard the Third?  Is there another historical figure that interests you as much as he does?

I’ve always been interested in Richard the Third.  Something about him fascinated me and after I read “The Daughter of Time” in the early 80s, I tried to find out as much as I could about him.  About the only decent book available then was Paul M. Kendall’s biography “Richard the Third.”  The only other historical figure that I was interested in was Tutankhammun!  I think artists as drawn to subjects that have a touch of the mythic about them; Richard has so much of the “sacrificial” mythos characteristics, he’s a perfect study for any  artist or writer.

Do you have a studio?

I don’t have a specific studio but my front room doubles as my ‘aetelier’ – which sounds very grand.  Actually, it’s just a room of art supplies, books and bits of taxidermy.

How can we buy your work?

If anyone’s interested in buying my art, they can contact me either on my Facebook page “The Art of Frances Quinn” or email me at echdhu@yahoo.ie.

Thanks, Frances.  I’ll let you get back to work.

frances richard and white surrey

J.P. Reedman’s novels and short stories can be found on Amazon.com.

Top right:  left to right, Frances Quinn and Janet Reedman

Another case of monarchical remains and their DNA

http://edition.cnn.com/2014/10/21/world/king-tut-visual-autopsy/index.html

This time it is Tutankhamun (no doorbell jokes, thankyou) nearly three millennia earlier. The “virtual autopsy” shows him to have had a clubfoot and he owned about a hundred walking sticks as a consequence, strangely held in the wrong hand. DNA evidence appears to show his parents (Akhenaten and the “Younger Lady) to be siblings, which is almost enough to make a pontiff spontaneously combust. Such such inbreeding, in which he later participated, is likely to have led to his fatal illness as well as his lameness, although he was previously thought to have died in a chariot accident. His identity was confirmed by his recorded location. There was a campaign of “damnatio memoriae” against him, which may sound familiar.

What has Richard III started?

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