I'll admit up front that although there were no obvious signs saying 'do not take photos' - I didn't actually ask. *guilt*. I didn't take photos of the most spectacular thing, the big case full of Bronze age gold torcs and lunulae, which were seriously awesome. I thought photographing those might possibly cause the staff to become alarmed. So if you are in Truro, GO SEE THEM.
The most impressive thing about the lunulae was not so much their size and goldness - though they were big and flashy though very thin. But the really remarkable thing about them was the incredibly fine and complex regular abstract patterns etched into the surface, which you could barely see unless you moved around peering at an angle. Producing such regular and perfect patterns on such a fine thin surface doesn't seem like an ancient technology, but of course it is. There were also a number of coiled gold torcs, which seemed rather less sophisticated. But very bling.
Unlike this thing. I don't know what this is, but I'm pretty sure that it's not what the label said it was (a papal bull inscribed on lead! Well, unless papal communications are stranger than I think...)
The way they did their labels was that instead of having lots of labels inside the case, they had a booklet with numbered entries in a pocket next to each case so you could look up the item. This mostly worked well... but I assume either the numbering or the sheet inside the booklet had got jumbled in this case. Any suggestions as to real ID gratefully received.
Here is a torc I did photograph - this time a late Iron age one made of bronze. It is apparently characteristically Dumnonian, though don't ask me why. The label-maker thought it rather an indifferent one of its type, but I really like it: the hinge is so precise, and the invisible fastening at the front is so clever. I bet it's heavy though. On the left is a mirror from roughly the same period: a bit corroded, but I like the swirls and the neat handle.
One thing that made me appreciate the mirror more was when I went upstairs to look at the modern stuff, and found this in a case of 19th century things:
This is an 'arts and crafts movement' mirror from a Cornish maker. According to the label, it was made to be sold in London, but was rejected by the grand London shops because it looked insufficiently hand-made. I can't help wondering what those grand London shops would have made of that very precise, neatly finished handle-loop on the Iron Age mirror. And I wonder if the Arts and Crafts mirrormaker had seen the Iron Age one...
So we wandered around the recently re-vamped main hall of the museum, looking at the many interesting things on display. Almost all the exhibits that were more than about 300 years old were made of metal, ceramic, glass or stone. Then I looked out over the main room as a whole, with particular attention to all the lovely frilly, decorative bits - which were almost universally made of wood. I wonder how much of that will be around in 300 years. It is rather lovely. Can't help feeling that it would be phenomenally confusing for Future Archaeologists (on their hoverbikes) to excavate: I wonder what they would make of it.
This being Cornwall, there is a mining and minerals gallery off the main room filled with Interesting And Unusual Bits of Rock, which was surprisingly interesting. There were some mining implements too, starting off with spades made from horn and bone, and ending up with complicated models of mine drainage systems, but I don't seem to have photographed them. There was an 18th century wooden spade among the exhibits, causing me to wonder how many earlier wooden spades there had been, that had rotted away and been lost...
Philmophlegm was disappointed there was no Arthurite on display, as our house is almost on top of the type locality for this obscure mineral, so he feels it is a sort of personal friend. We debated trying to find a curator and demanding to see some Arthurite, but as we had no good reason to do so, we didn't. However! I have scoured the Internet and found some: here it is!
From a fiction point of view, this label was a bit of a find : http://pics.livejournal.com/bunn/pic/000gz81a/g135 . It is quite absurdly satisfying to me that someone has (in my head) dug up the grave of a character that I have invented and written a label for it. (Cue now-routine cries of 'what is wrong with me?' etc etc)
The 'mining implements through the ages' were a nice reminder that in a county that has traditionally had a somewhat cavalier attitude to law-enforcement and planning law (*cough *smugglers & wreckers & webbed feet thelotofem*), if I want to write an elaborate high status item that there is no evidence of at all (AND I DO), the chances are pretty good that anything like that would have been dug up by industrious 18th-century miners, hacked into unrecognisable bits, and sold for the value of the bits... Or dismissed as modern rubbish and had a 19th century spoilheap dumped on it. Yay for lost heritage.
Afterwards we had a wander down Truro River (which joins the river Fal, and goes down to the sea at Falmouth). Some hopeful swans wondered if we had any bread, but we cruelly refused to go into the Tesco that was behind me in this pic and buy them some. I like that rather grand old converted warehouse at the end.
I wish I could go shopping in a boat! Though these office buildings along the edge of the river do look rather precarious. Good views, but I think you might want to put all vulnerable electrical equipment on the first floor... T