I deserted Ancestry after half-an-hour today...didn't find any beheadings but did come across an ancestor who died in a riot...Wikipedia usually comes up with something or other but all they had to say was he died in a riot in London in the 1000's...so I'm none the wiser...
There can't have been much in London back then...a few houses and businesses huddled together I expect, and plenty of open drains and sewers giving off a stink...so what he was doing in London in the first place and what the riot was about is a bit of a mystery...
I did find a chap the other day who was the very first Keeper of the Tower of London...it was his responsbility to make sure any prisoners stayed put...when he was appointed there was only one man imprisoned...and he escaped. It was generally thought that my ancestor...the Keeper...had made friends with the Frenchman who he was supposed to be guarding and had helped him in his getaway...
When I was about ten I went to London with my Uncle Alan and Aunt Barbara for a week...we did all the sights...including going to the Tower, but I don't remember it...I think there is a photo somewhere of me looking coy with a Beefeater...
Then school did a trip to London when I was a teenager, and we went to see the Crown Jewels, but were ushered past the display so quickly by the attendants we didn't see much at all...we went to Madame Tusscauds (sp?) and I thought it very silly indeed and was bored to tears...the dungeons at the Tower were excellent though...except most of the girls kept squealing and I wanted to hear what the guide was saying...don't know where the teacher had gone...probably outside for a quick smoke.
We went to the Natural History Musuem but that was a real disappointment...all the displays of dead animals were so old and motheaten and I didn't like it one bit...even the dinosaur skeletons looked sad and as though no-one much bothered with them...that was years ago though...might have all changed now.
There is a tiny musuem in Roscommon town which is open when it feels like it and that isn't often...it's crammed with local curosities and artefacts...and they've put the Sheela-na-Gig on a windowsill out of sight...you have to stand on a big stone to look at it...most of the displays have little handwritten notices attached...Kindly donated by Mrs Murphy...On loan from the Costello Family...there is some simply beautiful handwoven fabric which is two hundred years old...a hand knitted shawl from home spun wool...several lovely spinning wheels of different designs...a boat hewn from a log which dates back to the Bronze Age...stone fishing weights...( we have one of those I found in the garden) the inevitable clay pipes...locally found fossils and other quite ordinary objects which have a sentimental or historical appeal...
I like those sort of places...I like to chat to the girl who works there because she knows the hidden history behind all the items on display...and will pull at my arm and say...Oh, you'll love this...look. and then she'll tell the history behind the shawl and where it came from and how it had been used right up to the 1970's when the old lady died and it'd been put away in the bottom of a wardrobe...only just escaping being put in the families dog bed...
The glittery gold torcs on display in Dublin leave me cold...case after case of the extravagent neck pieces and elaborate adornments the old Celtic peoples thought beautiful...I like the battered amber beads and tiny silver finger rings inscribed with magical marks...I'll walk straight past the weaponery...can't be doing with guns and knives, but I'll linger in front of the display of ancient swords thought to have been thrown into rivers to appease the river gods and stand and gaze at a pair of soft leather boots with pointy toes found in a bog somewhere...and I'll read the little note...'thought to be 14thc' and wonder who it was who wore those boots and why did they happen to lose a pair on the bog...
There is a mummified cat found in the chimney of an old cottage...put there for luck for the house and all those who dwelt within...and I'm wondering whether it was just an old stray that the builder enticed with a bit of meat or was it the family pet...kept indoors to catch the mice in the thatch...and I hope it was dead before it was stuffed into a crevice in the chimney.
Joey and Shirley found a goats leg under the floor of the cottage they bought...one leg in each corner under the old flagstones...while helping some people we knew with their old cottage, we pulled out of the chimney a pair of breeches with tiny mother-of -pearl buttons to fasten the flies...we laid them out on the floor and they quietly disintergrated in front of us...simply turned to dust.
The chimneys are wide you see...and most have a ledge about a third of the way up set into the cottage wall...when I poked about on our ledge I found a battered and extremely rusty tin bucket...no cats or goats legs or breeches. Because the fire and the smoke goes straight up, the little ledges are a perfect place to put something which won't be harmed by flames nor smoke...
But I could write for ages about these old places we live in and the traditions surrounding the hearth and the doorways...
Time now to cook the supper.