23 April – St. George, but mainly the Bard

23 April 2016 — 12 Comments
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St George slaying the dragon

St. George’s day April 23, is supposedly England’s special day. Actually, we have no official national day and it largely goes uncelebrated, which is a shame as George is our patron saint. His emblem, a red cross on a white background, is the flag of England and part of the British flag. It is believed that George was a brave Roman soldier who protested against the Romans’ torture of Christians and died for his beliefs. The popularity of St George in England stems from the time of the early Crusades when it is said that the Normans saw him in a vision and were victorious. His image appears on many of our UK coins.

23 April – St. George’s Day

Last year a rare 600-year-old gold finger ring, complete with a St. George and the dragon engraving, was unearthed by a detectorist in Norfolk. The Guild of St. George operated in Norwich between 1385 and 1548 and the ring demonstrated his popularity at the time.

NMSD8493A

Image Courtesy of the Portable Antiquities Scheme – Click to enlarge

And now for something different – Shakespeare

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Courtesy of The Royal Mint – Click to Enlarge

Historians believe Shakespeare was born on this day in 1564, the same day he died in 1616. This year we celebrate the 400 anniversary of his death. And it is that fact which I will also ‘celebrate’ in this post. Choosing my subject this time was a dilemma but, in mitigation, the Bard’s anniversary is a one-off and I can always major on George next year! It would have been much easier to link George to metal detecting, but I like a challenge. First, a few fast facts about Shakespeare, courtesy of the History Channel.

Incidentally – or should that be coincidentally – a nearly 400-year-old copy of a first edition of William Shakespeare’s collected plays has been found in a vast aristocratic house on the Isle of Bute, off the western coast of Scotland. You can read about it HERE. The Royal Mint has struck three official £2 coins in the Bard’s honour – a first for the United Kingdom. Each coin celebrates an aspect of Shakespeare’s famous work:

Detectorist Finds with Shakespearian Connections.

As I inferred above, this wasn’t going to be easy and he links to the Bard are tenuous, to say the least. Scouring databases will bring up trade tokens issued by John Shakespeare, a rope maker of Middlesex, fob seals with a bust that may represent our man (doubtful) and some with a more positive connection … like this example, a medal from the PAS database.

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Shakespeare Medal – Courtesy PAS

The medal above commemorates 300 years since the birth of Shakespeare, dating it to 1916. The inscription reads WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE.  The other side shows a sheild surrounded by wreaths with the outer inscription 300 BIRTHDAY OF THE IMMORTAL BARD. See the full PAS record by clicking on the link. From the same database we have an unidentified object – probably of a mount of some kind – with a profile bust of the Bard … or is that Oliver Cromwell?

WMID-0300F3

Unique ID: WMID-0300F3

My next example is a shield shaped harness pendant (shown left) from the UKDFD and another courtesy of Nigel Mills and his book Medieval Artefacts (shown right). You can see full details by clicking on the link. It is thought that the pendant once belonged the de Bohun family. Humphrey de Bohun died in Pleshey castle and Shakespeare talks about Pleshey In Act 1, Scene 2 of ‘Richard II’. Gloucester’s widow sighs, “With all good speed at Plashy visit me”. All that remains today is a 50 foot un-castled and overgrown motte, surrounded by a watered moat populated by reeds, ducks and fish.

Pendant

And finally, an item (below) found last year by a detectorist, and seen on eBay. Could it be part of a pendant similar to the one shown on the right? I’ll let you decide.

Shakespeare

MTE1ODA0OTcxNjIzMzUxODIxQueen Elizabeth II

I haven’t forgotten that the 21st of April is one of Queen Elizabeth’s birthdays. Her image has appeared on a lot of coins …

________________________________________________

John

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12 responses to 23 April – St. George, but mainly the Bard

  1. Hi John from Queensland in Australia. What a coincidence the gold sovereign at the above of this post has the same date of the gold sovereighn I found with my Garrett Scorpion detector back in 1993 while travelling around Australia in our caravan. A lease holder was in Leonara WA Mining Registra’s Office when he heard me enquiring where I could obtain information about where to detect in the area. The chap who overheard us and allowed us to camp on his lease at Murrum Murrum and keep what we found but to advise him so he could go over the ground later on with his grader. We found no gold but finding the sovereign was quite exciting. Love reading your interesting posts. Keep up the good work. I am 78 this year but only have the one vehicle now and find it hard to get someone to take me out prospecting but then again I have had a great life and have had quite a few articles in the past published in our Gold, Gem and Treasure Magazine. I Live in Caboolture about 30 km north of Brisbane
    Best wishes
    Trevor Percival (the young old fella)

  2. Happy St George’s Day! There’s a rather nice cement statue of him up here in Scotlandshire on Orkney guarding the gate of the Italian POW chapel. The Normans could hardly have missed him in the Holy Land; he was/is very popular round that neck of the woods.

    http://www.orkneycommunities.co.uk/italianchapel/index.asp?pageid=592571

    Now Shakespeare… I was thinking… to help us celebrate Burns’ Night, you perhaps, could send us at DS a bottle of decent single malt; and we in return, on Shakespeare’s Birthday could send you down a bottle of decent ink and a quill..?

    I liked the audio… in the context of your blog it was somehow rather nicely Edison-esque. It’s a nice touch to hear your voice. Thanks again for a good topical read! Cheers John!

    • David, I’ve got a bottle of the blended stuff I can give you, but you will have to collect. I love that word ‘Edisonesque’. Pleased it worked, but not sure whether I’ll use it again. Don’t like the sound of my own voice.

  3. The Audio file works ok on my ipad John.

  4. I have my flags and bunting out front but am the only one on the road i’m afraid. Your recording came thru loud and clear

  5. I like you John feel that we neglect our patron saint all too often, especially when we celebrate St Patrick’s day, or is it just drinking the masses are interested in ! whowever I digress, a very good informative blog and the audio worked for me.

    Keith

  6. lovely read john and the audio link works fine mate

  7. Thanks for ALL your comments!

  8. According to the audio you guys sound funny over there too. I think the pendant may have been made from the same mold although maybe a multi-piece mold as the lettering is at a different spot on the perimeter. Keep your eye out for a potato chip ( you probably have a different name for them ) in the likeness of Shakespeare. I think Toby of Detectorist said ” People buy this **** ” and he is right. 🙂

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