Salisbury’s puzzling inscription
Scholars are still puzzling over a painted inscription found at Salisbury Cathedral when a wall tablet commemorating Sir Henry Hyde was removed from the south aisle wall for conservation. The surviving part of the inscription comprises six lines of grey-black text, which archaeologist John Crook has photographed and enhanced to make deciphering easier. Despite this, and despite a public appeal for help that has been published on numerous websites, the wording of the inscription has yet to be understood.
The inscription must predate the erection of the Hyde monument in the 1660s. The cathedral’s Consultant Archaeologist, Tim Tatton Brown, believes that the inscription could date from a century earlier: ‘the specialists who have looked at this are now leaning towards the text being written in the
15th century, a period when English was, for the very first time, being used just occasionally in preference to Latin which was then the norm.’ Such a date also predates the earliest translations of the Bible into English, so searches based on the King James version are unlikely to produce a close match.
John Crook has so far managed to tease out a few words: ‘line four has a sequence of letters that appear to read “and we are c...”. The only occurrence of this string of letters in the King James Bible is Jeremiah 14:9: “thou, O Lord, art in the midst of us, and we are called by thy name”. Line four includes a string starting with what could be a highly embellished capital A, which might be “Alleluia”. Above it is another word that seems to include the letters “gele*e”, which might be a word connected with angel or angelic,’ he says.
recommendation to the Department in 2003. In February 2010 it asked the Government to fast-track the listing application when it was feared that EMI, the British music company, was considering the sale of its world-renowned studios, with no statutory designation in place to prevent a new owner redeveloping the site.
EMI has since said that it has no plans for a sale, but not before a spontaneous campaign had been mounted by music-lovers all over the world, which led the National Trust to say that it would try to acquire the building if that was what it took to secure its preservation.
In the event, the Government acted swiftly, acknowledging that this was a rare case of a building being listed not so much for its architectural significance as for its historical associations with musicians as diverse as Sir Edward Elgar, Sir Malcolm Sargant, the Beatles and Pink Floyd. Welcoming the decision, Simon Thurley, Chief Executive of English Heritage, said: ‘Some of the defining sounds of the 20th century were created within the walls of the Abbey Road Studios ... which act as a modern-day monument to the history of recorded sound and music.’
WorlD neWS india’s ‘pompeii’ The eruption 74,000 years ago of the Toba volcano on the Indonesian island of Sumatra was the most catastrophic event the human species has ever endured, but it has also proved invaluable in dating newly discovered archaeological sites in southern and northern India, where an international, multidisciplinary research team, led by Oxford University, has found stone cores and flakes sealed beneath the Toba ash, proving that humans were present in India prior to 74,000 years ago, or about 15,000 years earlier than previous predictions.
Joan of arc’s egyptian relics Forensic scientists in France have analysed the so-called ‘relics of Joan of Arc’, kept in Chinon, France, and concluded they derive from Egyptian mummy fragments used by Medieval pharmacists to treat wounds after being ground up and mixed with sesame oil. The black substance coating the bones contained bitumen, wood resins and gypsum used in ancient Egyptian pharmacists to treat wounds after being ground up and mixed with sesame oil. The black substance coating the bones contained bitumen, wood resins and gypsum used in ancient Egyptian embalming ointment. A brownish textile was embalming ointment. A brownish textile was identified as an Egyptian mummy wrapping and carbon-dated to the 6th-3rd centuries BC.
islam’s holy treasures The British Museum is to stage a pioneering exhibition on the Hajj – the ritual pilgrimage to Mecca that every devout Muslim must make at least once in their life – in 2012. Non-Muslims cannot enter Mecca, so Hajj rituals are largely unknown to the Christian world. The exhibition will include the personal account of anthropologist and BM curator Hassan Arero, and will look at the huge annual tribal gatherings that took place for centuries prior to the 7th century AD when the Prophet Muhammad replaced the worship of multiple tribal deities with the monotheistic religion of Islam.
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