The Fifth Realm

Arms of the Virginia Company of London, engraving by Simon Gribelin, frontispiece to second edition of Robert Beverley’s The History of Virginia in Four Parts, London, 1722.

Examplary the Wrong Way

William Hogarth's The Idle 'Prentice Executed at Tyburn, from the Industry and Idleness series (1747).
William Hogarth’s The Idle ‘Prentice Executed at Tyburn, from the Industry and Idleness series (1747).

If no remedy can be found for these evils [the disorders of the Tyburn procession] it would be better that Malefactors should be put to death in private; for our publick executions are become decoys, that draw in the necessitous, and in effect as cruel as frequent pardons, instead of giving warning they are examplary the wrong way, and encourage where they should deter.

Bernard de Mandeville, Enquiry into the Causes of the Frequent Execution, London, 1725.

A Royal Pedigree to Half the Population of the Country

Detail of The Downsitting of Parliament, from Chatelain's "Atlas Historique" of 1720, showing a graphic scheme of the opening of the Estates of Parliament of Scotland about 1680 - 1685.
Detail of The Downsitting of Parliament, from Chatelain’s “Atlas Historique” of 1720, showing a graphic scheme of the opening of the Estates of Parliament of Scotland about 1680 – 1685.

That so many families claiming royal lineage should be found among our lowest classes is not astonishing. History tells us of change after change in the ruling dynasties of these islands, and of the advent of races the most varied in time and origin. During the last two thousand years enough kings and nobles have sunk from power to furnish a royal pedigree to half the population of the country. It is true that the present Royal Family, and the present aristocracy, inherit, to some extent, the blood of extinct dynasties. But only to some extent. The Prince of Wales has lawfully succeeded to various dignities; but these are of such opposite origin that they cannot possibly be typified in the person of one man. He cannot be, at the same time, a typical Prince of Wales and a typical Prince of Scotland; a genuine Duke of Cornwall and as genuine a Duke of Rothesay; a perfect specimen of the Lords of the Isles and an equally perfect Earl of Chester; he cannot be a thoroughbred Plantagenet, Stewart, Tudor, and Guelph — though a certain proportion of the blood of each may run in his veins. The circumstances that developed such titles have been matters of history for many generations; the titles themselves are now merely so many graceful honours, attaching by right of birth to the Heir Apparent.

David MacRitchie, Ancient and Modern Britons (London: 1884).

The Sudarium Supported by St. Peter and St. Paul

The Sudarium Supported by St. Peter and St. Paul; engraving dated 1497 by anonymous Renaissance German printmaker, Master L. Cz.
The Sudarium Supported by St. Peter and St. Paul; engraving dated 1497 by anonymous Renaissance German printmaker, Master L. Cz. Only twelve engravings by his hand are extant, but their virtuosity establishes him as a talented artist whose work marks a stylistic transition between that of Martin Schongauer and Albrecht Dürer.

Ardagh Chalice

The Ardagh Chalice is a large, two-handled silver cup, decorated with gold, gilt bronze, brass, lead pewter and enamel, which has been assembled from 354 separate pieces; this complex construction is typical of early Christian Irish metalwork. The main body of the chalice is formed from two hemispheres of sheet silver are joined with a rivet hidden by a gilt-bronze band. The names of the Twelve Apostles are incised in a frieze around the bowl, below a girdle bearing inset gold wirework panels of animals, birds, and geometric interlace. Techniques used include hammering, engraving, lost-wax casting, filigree applique, cloisonné and enamel. Even the underside of the chalice is decorated. The Chalice was discovered in 1868 in a potato field on the south-western side of a rath (ring fort) called Reerasta beside Ardagh, County Limerick, Ireland, along with a much plainer stemmed cup in copper-alloy, and four brooches, three elaborate pseudo-penannular ones, and one a true pennanular brooch of the thistle type, together the Ardagh Hoard.

R. R. McIan’s Lord of the Isles

The Lord of the Isles portrayed in his ceremonial costume in a XIX century engraving by McIan, from James Logan’s “The Clans of the Scottish Highlands”, 1845.

Robert Ronald McIan (1803 – 13 Dec 1856), also Robert Ranald McIan, was an actor and painter of Scottish descent. He is best known for romanticised depictions of Scottish clansmen, their battles, and domestic life.

Mirror, Mirror

The reverse side of the Desborough Mirror, a British bronze mirror 50 BC – AD 50, showing the spiral and trumpet decorative theme of the late “Insular” La Tène style.

The Desborough Mirror has a reflecting surface with green patination; the back of the mirror is highly decorated. The mirror is made from three pieces — a cast handle, the main mirror plate and a tubular binding strip around the edge. The pattern is very complex. It has a symetrical outline in the form of a lyre with flanking coils. The pattern may have been laid out using a pair of compasses. Parts of the decoration are engraved, using a graver, with a basket-weave pattern and hatched texturing to make the pattern stand out.

Mysterious Scottish Petrospheres

Carved Stone Balls are petrospheres, usually round and rarely oval. They have from 3 to 160 (but usually six) protruding knobs on the surface. Their size is fairly uniform at around 2.75 inches or 7 cm across, they date from the late Neolithic to possibly as late as the Iron Age, and are mainly found in Scotland, but also elsewhere in Britain and Ireland. They range from having no ornamentation (apart from the knobs) to extensive and highly varied engraved patterns. A wide range of theories have been produced to explain their use or significance, without any one gaining very wide acceptance.

An example from Towie in Aberdeenshire, dated from 3200–2500 BC.
An example from the farm of Golspie Towers, found in 1933.
A Carved Stone Ball with low profile knobs.
Three examples from Scotland; now in the British Museum.

Nearly all have been found in north-east Scotland, the majority in Aberdeenshire, the fertile land lying to the east of the Grampian Mountains. A similar distribution to that of Pictish symbols led to the early suggestion that Carved Stone Balls are Pictish artefacts. The core distribution also reflects that of the Recumbent stone circles. As objects they are very easy to transport and a few have been found on Iona, Skye, Harris, Uist, Lewis, Arran, Hawick, Wigtownshire and fifteen from Orkney. Outside Scotland examples have been found in Ireland at Ballymena, and in England at Durham, Cumbria, Lowick and Bridlington. The larger (90mm diameter) balls are all from Aberdeenshire, bar one from Newburgh in Fife.