A find of 131 gold coins along with four other gold objects dating to 1,400 years ago stands to be the largest find to date of gold coins from the Anglo-Saxon period in England.
Currently, HM Coroner for Norfolk is holding an inquest to determine whether an important find of gold coins and other objects from West Norfolk constitutes Treasure under the terms of the Treasure Act (1996). To qualify as Treasure, any two or more coins which contain more than 10% of precious metal and which are more than 300 years old are defined as Treasure and are property of the Crown. Typically, the Crown only claims the find if an accredited museum wishes to acquire the find, and is in a position to pay a reward equivalent to the full market value of the find.
Buried shortly after AD 600, the West Norfolk hoard contains a total of 131 gold coins, most of which are Frankish tremisses, as these coins were not yet produced in East Anglia at this date. The hoard contains nine gold solidi, a larger coin from the Byzantine empire worth three tremisses. The hoard also contains four other gold objects, including a gold bracteate (a type of stamped pendant), a small gold bar, and two other pieces of gold which were probably parts of larger items of jewellery. The presence of these items in the hoard suggests that the coins should be seen as bullion, valued by weight rather than face value.
At the point when the hoard was buried, England was not yet unified, but was divided into several smaller Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. Of these, the kingdom of the East Angles, including modern Norfolk and Suffolk, was one of the most important. This region is also one of the most productive in terms of finds of archaeological material through metal detecting, so it is perhaps unsurprising that the largest find to date of gold coins from the Anglo-Saxon period was discovered in Norfolk by metal detectorists.
Most Treasure cases are relatively straightforward, but this is an unusual case in a number of ways. The majority of the objects were found between 2014 and 2020 by a single detectorist, who prefers to remain anonymous. The landowner has also requested anonymity, and for this reason the find is currently described only as coming from ‘West Norfolk’. This finder has reported all of his finds to the appropriate authorities. However, ten of the coins were found by a second detectorist, David Cockle, who had permission from the landowner to detect in the same field. Mr Cockle, who at the time was a serving policeman, failed to report his discovery and instead attempted to sell his coins, pretending that they were single finds from a number of different sites. Mr Cockle’s deception was uncovered, and in 2017 he was found guilty of theft and sentenced to 16 months in prison, as well as being dismissed from the police.
All of the objects were found in a single field, where a single gold coin was found as long ago as 1990; this was a single find before the introduction of the Treasure Act which means that this coin does not form part of the group being considered by the Coroner. Despite this quirk, it seems almost certain that this was part of the same hoard. The Treasure case includes both those finds from 2014 onwards which were properly reported and those concealed by Mr Cockle, two of which could not be recovered as they had already been sold and had disappeared into the antiquities trade.
The previous largest hoard of coins of this period was a purse containing 101 coins discovered at Crondall in Hampshire in 1828. It had been disturbed before discovery and may originally have included more coins. Buried around AD 640, the hoard contained a mixture of Anglo-Saxon, Frankish and Frisian coins, along with a single coin of the Byzantine Empire, minted in Constantinople.
The decades on either side of AD 600 were quite literally a golden age for Anglo-Saxon England. The largest find of gold metalwork from the period was the Staffordshire hoard, discovered in 2009 by Terry Herbert, and dating from the mid-7th century This contained over 5.1kg of gold and 1.4kg of silver. Though the Staffordshire hoard is currently the largest find of precious metal from the period, it contained no coins.
The most famous discovery from this period was the ship burial from Sutton Hoo in Suffolk, recently dramatized in the Netflix movie The Dig, and dating somewhere between AD 610 and 640. The Sutton Hoo burial included a purse of 37 gold coins, three blank gold discs of the same size as the coins and two small gold ingots, as well as many other gold items. The Sutton Hoo purse contained only Frankish coins, reflecting the fact that although imported coins were already used in East Anglia by this time, coins were not yet being minted in the area by the time of the burial. Another important grave was discovered in 2003 at Prittlewell in Essex, probably buried a few years before the Sutton Hoo ship and containing two gold coins and other gold objects.
Norwich Castle Museum hopes to acquire the hoard, with the full support of the British Museum.
Tim Pestell, Senior curator of Archaeology at Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery said: “This internationally-significant find reflects the wealth and Continental connections enjoyed by the early Kingdom of East Anglia. Study of the hoard and its findspot has the potential to unlock our understanding of early trade and exchange systems and the importance of west Norfolk to East Anglia’s ruling kings in the seventh century.”
Helen Geake, Finds Liaison Officer for Norfolk said: “The West Norfolk hoard is a really remarkable find, which will provide a fascinating counterpart to Sutton Hoo at the other end of the kingdom of East Anglia. It underlines the value of metal-detected evidence in helping reconstruct the earliest history of England, but also shows how vulnerable these objects are to irresponsible collectors and the antiquities trade.”
Gareth Williams, Curator of Early Medieval Coins at the British Museum said: “This is a hugely important find. It is close in date to the famous ship burial from Sutton Hoo in Suffolk, and although it doesn’t contain as much gold as the whole of the Sutton Hoo burial, it contains many more coins. In fact, it is the largest coin hoard of the period known to date. It must be seen alongside other recent finds from East Anglia and elsewhere, and will help to transform our understanding of the economy of early Anglo-Saxon England.”
Findmypast has revealed a sneak peek of the digitisation process of the 1921 Census of England and Wales, which will be officially published online by Findmypast on 6 January 2022.
Taken on 19 June 1921, the census paints a vivid picture of the population as it was on that one night one hundred years ago.
For two and a half years and counting, a team of hundreds of Findmypast conservators, technicians and transcribers have undertaken the invaluable task of conserving, transcribing and digitising the 1921 Census in association with The National Archives and with the help and support of the Office for National Statistics.
It is the largest project ever completed by The National Archives and Findmypast, consisting of more than 30,000 bound volumes of original documents stored on 1.6 linear kilometres of shelving.
Everyone will be able to search and explore the census online, only at Findmypast, from 6 January 2022, allowing them to access the previously unseen archival material from the comfort of their homes. Users can discover more about their family’s past and learn what life was like in England and Wales a century ago.
This highly anticipated launch is likely to be the last significant census release for England and Wales in many people’s lifetime. Taken once a decade, the census remains secret for 100 years before being opened to the public. However, as the 1931 Census was destroyed in a fire at the Office for Works in 1942, and the 1941 Census was never captured owing to the outbreak of the Second World War, the 1921 Census will fill a huge gap for historians.
Tamsin Todd, CEO of Findmypast says:
“It has been a great honour for Findmypast to work alongside The National Archives as its commercial partner to reveal the extraordinary stories captured by 1921 Census of England & Wales. Taken between two world wars, following a global flu pandemic, during a period of economic turmoil and migration from the UK, and with social change at home as women won the right to vote, the 1921 Census documents a moment in time that will resonate with people living today.
I am incredibly proud of our Findmypast team who have worked with passion and dedication for thousands of hours to conserve, scan, and transcribe 38 million historical records from 30,000 volumes of delicate original documents. As a result of their diligent work, when the Census is opened for the very first-time next year, family historians around the world will be able to meaningfully search the Census to reveal where and how their ancestors lived and worked 100 years ago.
The 1921 Census offers more detail than any previous one taken. For the first time, individuals were asked not only about their occupations but also their place of work, employer, and were given ‘Divorced’ as an option for marital status. As well as searching for individuals, users will also have the ability to search the census by address to uncover the history of their local area or home and the stories of former occupants.
Taken between two world wars, during a period of economic turmoil and at a time when women had just won the right to vote, the 1921 Census will reveal some incredible findings about society and how it has evolved over the past 100 years.
Neil Curtis, Chief Operating Officer at The National Archives, says: “Census releases are keenly anticipated and create a period of collective curiosity about the past, generating a national moment of reflection.
“The 1921 Census will offer us a glimpse into the lives of individuals and communities between the wars, recovering from a great influenza pandemic, and embarking on a new era where everyday rights and roles were changing.
“What makes the 1921 Census even more vital is that it will be the last census release for England and Wales for 30 years, with the 1931 Census lost in a fire and the 1941 Census never taken.
“As home to more than 1,000 years of history, The National Archives is delighted to be working with Findmypast to open up this unique collection to the world.”
★★★★★ – The Times
Elizabeth and Mary: Royal Cousins, Rival Queens (8 October 2021 – 20 February 2022) is the first major exhibition to consider Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots together, putting them both centre stage and giving them equal billing. The exhibition takes a fresh and revealing look at the infamous story of two powerful queens bound together by their shared Tudor heritage, whose turbulent relationship dominated English and Scottish politics for thirty years.
From amicable beginnings to distrust and betrayal, the exhibition explores the complex relationship between Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots through their own words. Despite their fates being intertwined, the queens never met and their relationship was played out at a distance, much of it by letter. This exhibition offers a rare opportunity to see their original correspondence.
Drawing on the British Library’s outstanding collection of early modern manuscripts and printed books, Elizabeth and Mary’s autograph letters will be displayed alongside 16th-century state papers, speeches and cipher documents, as well as beautiful maps, drawings and woodcut engravings to illustrate key moments and events. There will also be paintings, jewels, textiles, maps, drawings and objects borrowed from private and public collections in the UK and Spain.
Dr Andrea Clarke, lead curator of Elizabeth and Mary: Royal Cousins, Rival Queens at the British Library, said:
‘Almost 500 years on, the story of Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots continues to fascinate and enthral. It is a story of two women whose lives were inextricably connected, for not only were they fellow sovereign queens but also, as Mary reminded Elizabeth in countless letters to her, ‘both of one blood, of one country and in one island’. It is remarkable that many of the themes woven through the exhibition narrative, such as Anglo-Scottish relations, international diplomacy and Europe, state surveillance and espionage, still have a deep resonance today.’
Revealing a dangerous world of plots, espionage and treachery, Elizabeth and Mary: Royal Cousins, Rival Queens will explore how the drama unfolded against the backdrop of an England and Scotland deeply divided between Protestants and Catholics and a Europe torn apart by religious conflicts and civil wars.
The exhibition is sponsored by The Sir John Ritblat Family Foundation, with thanks to the John S Cohen Foundation and all supporters who wish to remain anonymous. The exhibition catalogue is supported by The Strathmartine Trust.
When: Fri 8 Oct 2021 - Sun 20 Feb 2022
Opening times and visitor information
Full Price: £16.00
Registered Unemployed: £7.00
National Art Pass Senior: £8.00
Child (0-11) : £0.00
Child (12-17): £3.50
National Art Pass: £9.00
Senior (60+): £8.00
Young Person (18-25): £7.00
Based on incredible true events, Six Minutes to Midnight is a tense World War II spy thriller starring Emmy Award® winner Eddie Izzard (Valkyrie), Carla Juri (Blade Runner 2049), James D’Arcy (Dunkirk) and Academy Award® winners Judi Dench (Skyfall) and Jim Broadbent (The Iron Lady).
Summer 1939. Britian is on the eve of war and yet peace remains in the picturesque seaside town of Bexhill-on-Sea where influential families in Nazi Germany have sent their daughters to a prestigious finishing school to learn the language and be ambassadors for a future looking National Socialist party.
When new teacher, and undercover agent of the British Secret Service, Thomas Miller (Eddie Izzard) joins the school he discovers a plot to remove the girls from the country before the outbreak of war. With the innocent young women now being used as expendable politcal pawns by the Nazi elite, Miller attempts to raise the alarm. But when his superior officer and the only man aware of his true identity is murdered before his eyes, the British authorities believe Miller himself to be the culprit. Now the chase is on, will the secret agent be captured before he has a chance to reveal the truth and save the girls?
Directed by Andy Goddard (Set Fire to the Stars), Six Minutes To Midnight is a thrilling tale of WWII espionage based on the incredible true events of the Augusta-Victoria college, a British finishing school for the Nazi high-command. Written by the film’s stars Eddie Izzard and Celyn Jones (Mr. Jones), Six Minutes to Midnight features a cast of award-winning British talent including screen legends Judi Dench and Jim Broadbent.
PEARSON & THE BLACK CURRICULUM JOIN FORCES TO CHAMPION BLACK BRITISH HISTORY TOPICS ON THE NATIONAL CURRICULUMRead Now
A new partnership is seeking to ensure more Black British history has its rightful place in the school curriculum and teachers are getting the high-quality support and resources they need to deliver new topics with confidence.
As part of their shared commitment to ending racial inequality in the classroom, learning company Pearson and education social enterprise The Black Curriculum are working together to help increase Black British history being taught in schools.
The partnership, which will draw on The Black Curriculum’s extensive expertise in supporting schools to deliver accessible Black British history curricula, will involve the creation of guidance, resources and training to empower teachers to teach new and existing topics confidently and effectively, as well as a review of Pearson’s current history qualifications and materials. The Black Curriculum and Pearson will also continue collaborating on the new Pearson Edexcel History GCSE Migration topic, which will see inspiring Black activists like Dr Harold Moody and Claudia Jones, and significant events like Notting Hill Carnival and the Bristol Bus Boycott being taught in history classrooms across the country from this September.
Speaking about their ambitions for the partnership, Sharon Hague, Senior Vice-President for Pearson School Qualifications, said: “We are committed to championing inclusion in education and creating learning environments and content that reflect the world and its people. Ensuring there is more Black British history in the qualifications and resources we offer is a key part of this, so, we are delighted to be partnering with The Black Curriculum as a step to help us make this a reality.
“More culturally diverse history is more accurate history and together we will be striving to make sure teachers have the support and the materials they need to bring overlooked British people and moments in history to life in classrooms across the country. We are excited to continue this journey and work with more teachers, learners and experts on steps to help build a more racially and culturally inclusive school system.”
Reflecting on the significance and impact of embedding more Black British history into the fabric of education, Lavinya Stennett, founder and CEO of The Black Curriculum, said: “Black British history belongs in the National Curriculum. All our stories and contributions have made a truly positive impact on British culture and society. And that needs to be formally acknowledged. It is enormously gratifying to partner with Pearson and present these materials. In the current socio-political climate, it is critical young people understand the concepts of topics such as migration. And it's even more important that teachers and education professionals are guided and supported in presenting these more inclusive materials from a respected source such as Pearson. The Black Curriculum believes learning about Black British history will increase the sense of belonging and identity among all students and welcome Pearson's commitment to that".
While the partnership is initially focusing on being more inclusive around the history taught in schools, activity will also extend to other subject areas within Pearson, helping to promote change across the wider curriculum and support the profession’s widespread desire for more inclusion and representation. In Pearson research released earlier this year, four in five UK teachers felt more could be done to celebrate diverse cultures, people and experiences in education and in another recent survey Pearson commissioned, six in 10 teachers said that they reviewed their curriculum in terms of Black and ethnic minority representation in the past year.
Ensuring teachers and educators have the understanding, skills and support to deliver Black British history will be fundamental to the partnership work between Pearson and The Black Curriculum. This follows feedback from schools that many teachers lack confidence when it comes to teaching history they may be unfamiliar with, or particularly sensitive topics.
Sharing her school’s experience, Samantha Slater, Subject Leader of History at a school in the South East, said: "We've been on a journey to transform the history we teach in our academy to better reflect our students and the world around them - from exploring African Kingdoms to Indian Independence and the Biafran Civil War. So far the changes we've made have been loved by students, teachers and parents alike. However, a lot of the topics we explore are very emotional and we have to really think about the language and resources that we use. More training, resources and CPD for teachers to help us with what phrases and content to use, as well as to help increase our subject knowledge would be invaluable, so it's fantastic to hear that Pearson and The Black Curriculum are working together to support this."
Free guidance and professional development ranging from advice on teaching Black British history in schools to CPD on racial literacy in action and a guide to understanding the new Notting Hill historic environment will be made available to schools as part of the partnership over the new academic year.
As part of Pearson’s company-wide commitment to championing greater inclusion in education, it has also set up a Global Task Force dedicated to identifying concrete actions to ensure its products, content and services build a more inclusive society. It is also working with respected partners to undertake wide-scale reviews across its qualifications, supporting sector-wide campaigns promoting change and launching first-of-their-kind editorial guidelines to ensure equitable representation of race, ethnicity, gender, LGBTQ+ and disability in its content.
To find out more about Pearson and The Black Curriculum’s partnership, as well as the Pearson Edexcel History GCSE Migration Topic starting this September, please visit: https://www.pearson.com/uk/news-and-policy/news/2021/07/pearson-and-the-black-curriculum-join-forces.html
For more information on Pearson’s company-wide commitment to championing diversity and inclusion in education, please visit: https://www.pearson.com/uk/educators/schools/issues/diversity-and-inclusion.html
For more information on The Black Curriculum, please visit: www.theblackcurriculum.com
This year’s Daily Mail Chalke Valley History Festival is like no other. A slightly shortened version due to the pandemic, the organisers have none the less packed it with a more complete and wide-ranging programme than ever before. The full line- up is now online and can be found at www.cvhf.org.uk.
The festival promises to offer a full assault on the senses. Those attending will be able to watch our greatest living playwright and learn how to build a Roman road. There will be a former Archbishop of Canterbury and political party leader alongside some of the best-known and loved TV historians. There will be demonstrations from the Tudor kitchen, stone age flint-knapping and a Cold War-era armoured brigade headquarters. It will be possible to learn about the dark art of 19th century body- snatching, how to make wattle and daub, and learn how to make a Tudor salve and herbal cure. The head of the UK’s Armed Forces, the best-known shepherd in the land, and the most eminent international human rights lawyer in the UK will all be speaking. There will be Sword School, a vintage fairground, some of the country’s
most brilliant, successful and eminent historians but also late-night storytelling around the fire with Dan Snow and Michael Wood, and fast and furious fun with the History Tellers.
And as with any English country festival, there will be food, glorious food – and historical fast food too – as well as drink, camping, glamping and live music every single day of the festival from 1920s flapper music to the ancient ballads of English folk music.
Those coming to the festival will be able to see history, touch history, taste history and smell history too – and all in the stunning ancient downland of the Chalke Valley – a place of immense history in its own right.
Festival Chair, James Holland, says: “I’m really very excited about this year’s festival. Despite the challenges of the last year we’ve been able to produce a really inclusive and very wide-ranging programme that feels fresh, vibrant and fun. It will be midsummer, lockdown will be over, and I can’t wait to unleash this historical pageant.”
The stellar list of historians and speakers at this year’s festival include: Tracy Borman, Sir Vince Cable, General Sir Nick Carter, Diana Cavendish, Niall Ferguson, Anne Glenconner, Sir Max Hastings, Charlie Higson, Tom Holland, Katja Hoyer, Cat Jarman, Hermione Lee, Professor Margaret Macmillan, Rana Mitter, Al Murray, Jim
Naughtie, Neil Oliver, James Rebanks, Dominic Sandbrook, Dan Snow, Sir Tom Stoppard, Rowan Williams, Marina Wheeler and Michael Wood.
Due to government guidelines, there may be restrictions on the number of tickets for sale at the festival this year. The festival strongly advises those wishing to attend to book tickets early to avoid disappointment. All of the Outdoor Programme will be available on a single daily ticket (with add-ons for Sword School and fairground rides), and at a price that has been kept deliberately low and which promises astonishing value for money awhile tented events will require an individual ticket, as was the case in the past. Tented ticket prices will, however, also include access to
the Outdoor Programme.
This year, there will be no Chalke Valley History Festival for Schools, although the festival is producing a programme of curriculum-based films, ready for the start of the academic year this September, and which will be entirely free for all teachers, pupils and schools. A special and separate online portal will be created for this.
All profits from the festival are ploughed back into the Chalke Valley History Trust, which operates to promote the enjoyment and better understanding of history for all ages but especially to school children.
Tickets go on sale to the general public on Wednesday 19th May and will be released two days earlier on Monday 17 th May to the Friends membership.
Talks given by incredible historians, taken from the past ten years of the festival, can now be heard on the Chalke Valley History Festival podcast. Entitled #ChalkeTalk, the podcasts are released three times a week.
On 28 May 2021 Royal Museums Greenwich, in collaboration with the National Portrait Gallery, London, will open Tudors to Windsors: British Royal Portraits at the National Maritime Museum, a major art exhibition exploring the changing nature of the British monarchy and royal portraiture over 500 years.
Tudors to Windsors will feature over 150 works, including famous paintings, miniatures, sculpture, photographs, medals and stamps spanning five royal dynasties: Tudors, Stuarts, Georgians, Victorians and Windsors. Visitors will come face-to-face with the kings, queens, heirs, consorts and favourites who have shaped British royal history and portraits by some of the most important artists to have worked in Britain, often under the direct patronage of the Royal Family, from Sir Peter Lely and Sir Godfrey Kneller to Andy Warhol, Cecil Beaton and Annie Leibovitz.
The majority of the artworks are drawn from the outstanding collection of the National Portrait Gallery. The loans will be on display alongside works from private lenders and pieces from the National Maritime Museum’s own renowned collection.
Beginning with the famous and infamous kings and queens of the Tudor dynasty, a period that coincides with the foundations of portrait painting in England, the exhibition will explore the development of the royal portrait as statements of wealth, power, continuity and tradition and how this was impacted by both the personalities of individual monarchs and wider historical change.
Highlights on display include the earliest known portrait of Henry VII – the oldest artwork in the exhibition – painted in 1505 by an unknown artist, as well as the famous ‘Ditchley Portrait’ of Elizabeth I by Flemish artist Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger. Regal portraits of Charles II and his mistresses will feature alongside early 19th century domestic photographs of Queen Victoria and her family. A selection of paintings and photographs of Queen Elizabeth II by Cecil Beaton and
Annie Leibovitz will be displayed, alongside portraits of other members of the current Royal Family.
The exhibition takes place in the historic setting of Greenwich, one of London’s key royal sites as the location of the principal Tudor palace, the birthplace of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, the home of the Royal Armouries and the location of the Queen’s House, commissioned by James I’s consort Anne of Denmark, and the Royal Observatory founded by Charles II.
Tudors to Windsors: British Royal Portraits is on at the National Maritime Museum from 28 May 2021.
Nero: the man behind the myth will explore the true story of Rome's fifth emperor informed by new research and archaeological evidence from the time, challenging the biased historical accounts written after Nero’s death that have shaped his legacy.
Recent discoveries relating to Nero’s fourteen-year rule reveal a more accurate picture. Treasures hidden during the destruction of Colchester in AD 60-61 during Boudica's Iceni rebellion, burned artifacts from the Fire of Rome in AD 64, and evidence from the destruction of Pompeii uncover a new understanding of Nero’s turbulent and misconceived reign.
Tickets are available to book today for Nero: the man behind the myth opening 27 May, as well as tickets to the special exhibition Thomas Becket: murder and the making of a saint, opening 20 May. The Museum plans to reopen on 17 May and free tickets to visit the permanent collection are also available to book now.
This major exhibition will feature over 200 objects, charting the young emperor’s rise to power and examining his actions during a period of profound social change in regions from Armenia in the Near East, to Britain, and across mainland Europe. Drawn from the British Museum's world-class collection alongside rare loans from Europe, most never seen in the UK before, the exhibition includes humble graffiti next to grand sculpture, precious manuscripts, objects destroyed in the fire of Rome, priceless jewellery and slave chains from Wales, telling the story of rich and poor alike.
Nero (r. AD 54–68), the last male descendant of Rome’s first emperor Augustus, succeeded to the throne aged only sixteen. Britain had been under Roman rule for just eleven years. During his reign of nearly fourteen years, he had his own mother killed, his first wife, and allegedly his second wife. Written accounts even claim that Nero himself started the Great Fire of Rome in AD 64. In June AD 68, when confronted with rebellions by insubordinate military officials, Nero was forced to commit suicide. The Roman senate immediately excised his memory from official records, and his name was vilified to legitimise the new ruling elite.
The image of Nero as a tyrant created 50 years after his death by the historians Tacitus and Suetonius, and written about more than another century later by Cassius Dio, is a story that has been repeated for centuries. We now know that this Nero is a fabrication and that ancient sources stand between us and the historical character. This exhibition challenges traditional preconceptions and explores what the ancient elite narrative on Nero tells us about the inner conflicts of Roman society.
Statues of Nero were erected throughout the empire, yet very few survive due to the official suppression of his image. A star piece in the exhibition is a bronze head of Nero, long-mistaken as Claudius, which was found in the River Alde in Suffolk in 1907. The head was part of a statue that probably stood in Camulodunum (Colchester) before being torn down during the Boudica-led rebellion. A small bronze figure of Nero, lent by Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Venezia and seen in the UK for the first time, gives a rare sense of a complete sculpture.
The Fenwick Hoard will be shown as part of a major exhibition for the first time since it was discovered in 2014 beneath the floor of a shop on Colchester’s High Street. The treasure was buried for safekeeping by settlers fleeing for their lives during Boudica’s attack. Among the items are Roman republican and imperial coins, military armlets and fashionable jewellery very similar to finds from Pompeii and Herculaneum.
Famously, Nero was the first Roman emperor to act on stage and compete in public games as a charioteer. Aged 21, Nero first took to the stage as part of private games, but a few years later he performed publicly in Naples and then in Rome itself. This event was described in hostile sources as unprecedented and scandalous, but contemporary evidence shows that Nero was hardly the first young man of good family to take part in public performances. Chariot racing, gladiatorial combats and theatre were incredibly popular in the Roman world, as shown by fascinating objects such as gladiatorial weapons from Pompeii on loan from the Louvre, stunning frescoes depicting actors and theatrical masks lend by Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli.
One of the defining moments of Nero’s reign was the Great Fire of Rome in AD 64, which burned for nine days and laid waste to large parts of the city. Excavations in recent years have revealed the true extent of the ferocity and impact of the fire. A warped iron window grating, discovered near the Circus Maximus, will be displayed in the UK for the first time, as testament to the intensity of the flames and destruction.
Nero, who was in the nearby city of Antium rather than in his palace watching the inferno, led the relief and reconstruction efforts. A new palace, the Domus Aurea, rose from the ashes. Stunning frescoes and wall decorations will give visitors a taste of Nero’s opulent residence. The elaborate designs and the use of precious materials such as exotic marbles, cinnabar and gold speak to the height of imperial luxury.
Visitors will ask themselves, who was Nero? A young ruler reconciling contrasting demands in a time of great change, or a merciless, matricidal maniac? Nero was widely admired among ordinary Romans due to his popular policies, extravagant games, and grand building projects, in stark contrast to the powerful voices of the senatorial authors who ultimately determined Nero’s legacy. It is they who fabricated the enduring image of the mad tyrant that still fascinates us today.
Thorsten Opper, Curator, Ancient Rome, British Museum, said ‘The Nero of our common imagination is an entirely artificial figure, carefully crafted 2000 years ago. It is fascinating to unravel how and why this was done. The exhibition - from court art to street graffiti - reveals a society that was prosperous and dynamic, yet full of inner tensions, which erupted in a violent civil war after Nero’s death. The objects tell these stories, starkly and immediately.’
Hartwig Fischer, Director of the British Museum, said ‘Nero: the man behind the myth is the first major exhibition in the UK to look beyond the commonly held view of Nero as the Emperor who fiddled while Rome burned. The exhibition’s representation of Nero is one that resonates with our times, in a world with deepening social and economic challenges, contested facts and the polarisation of opinion.
I would like to express my gratitude to our long-term exhibition partner BP. Without their support, the British Museum would not be able to present such exhibitions, allowing visitors to explore the complex character of Nero – real and imagined.’
Nero: the man behind the myth runs from 27 May to 24 October 2021 in the Sainsbury Exhibitions Gallery at the British Museum.
Open Saturday – Thursday 10.00–17.00, Friday 10.00–20.30. Last entry 90 mins before closing.
Adult tickets £20 weekdays and £22 weekends, under 16s free, 2-for-1 tickets for students on Fridays, and concessions and group rates available.
+44 (0)20 7323 8181
In March 1943 the code breakers at Bletchley Park, Britain's top secret intelligence station, are facing their worst nightmare. Nazi U boats have unexpectedly changed the code by which they communicate with each other and German High Command. An Allied merchant shipping convoy crossing the Atlantic with 10,000 passengers and vital supplies is in danger of attack.
The authorities turn for help to Tom Jericho, a brilliant young mathematician and code breaker. Unknown to his colleagues, Jericho (Dougray Scott) has another equally baffling enigma of his own to unravel. Claire, the woman with whom he has fallen in love, has disappeared from Bletchley just when the authorities suspect there may be a spy at the Park. To get to the bottom of both mysteries he enlists the help of Hester, Claire's best friend (Kate Winslet). Together they keep one step ahead of the secret services and investigate Claire's mysterious life, reaching a conclusion that uncovers international and personal betrayals. Also starring Jeremy Northam and Saffron Burrows.
Dazzler Media proudly presents Enslaved, an extraordinarily moving series with Hollywood legend and human rights activist Samuel L. Jackson taking us on a powerful and personal journey. It's available to own on DVD & Digital from 19th April.
In this extraordinarily moving series, Hollywood legend and human rights activist Samuel L. Jackson takes us on a powerful and personal journey.
Exploring four centuries of slavery, Jackson travels the globe to reveal stories of suffering and greed, resistance, cultures left behind, accomplishment and hope. With investigative journalists Afua Hirsch and Simcha Jacobovici, Jackson unpacks the history of the transatlantic slave trade. He also teams up with an elite group of divers from Diving With a Purpose (DWP) to find and dive for six sunken slave ships. The series provides penetrating new insights and points of view - discovering the legacy of the slave trade in contemporary global culture.
Dazzler Media presents Enslaved on DVD & Digital from 19th April
Pre-order on Amazon: www.amazon.co.uk/Enslaved-Samuel-L-Jackson-DVD/dp/B08WJNTR5R