The images you'll see as you scroll down to the current text are all part of the story telling in my novel, Realms of Gold:Ritual to Romance.

Bianca Caldwell, pen name, Bianca Fiore, is a writer for an art magazine. In each of her monthly stories she describes an object used in ancient ritual.

Museum at Chatillon Features Realms of Gold!

                                Amis du Musée du Pays Châtillonnais
                                                                                                 Trésor de Vix
No oo1  Lettre aux Amis du Musée  Automne 2014
Fédération Française des Sociétés

d’Amis de Musée (FFSAM)

Notre association est adhérente à la FFSAM à l’instar de quelque 290 autres sociétés d’amis de Musée. En plus de son rôle d’interlocuteur des Pouvoirs Publics, la fédération est un organe de promotion des Sociétés d’Amis et par voie de conséquence des musées, une source de contacts et une occasion d’échanges d’expériences. C’est ainsi qu’un article sur l’AMPC est paru dans le dernier numéro de la revue de la FSAMM. Par ailleurs nous sommes entrain d’établir des relations avec nos collègues de Bourgogne en vue de donner un second souffle au groupement régional (Bourgogne) des sociétés d’amis de musée.
Affaire à suivre.

Un roman autour de la Dame de Vix :

Les royaumes dorés par Terry Stanfill.

La Dame de Vix a inspiré un roman original écrit par une Américaine résidant en Californie, Terry Stanfill.  A l’occasion d’une visite touristique de la région, cette écrivaine eut un véritable coup de cœur pour la Dame de Vix et tout ce qui l’entoure. L’ouvrage
"Les royaumes dorés" en Anglais "Realms of Gold " imagine les circonstances dans lesquelles le vase de Vix est arrivé dans notre Châtillonnais. Naturellement, c’est une fiction : elle met en scènes divers évènements et protagonistes réels ou imaginaires. Les versions françaises et anglaises sont en vente à la boutique du Musée (15€).  


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Viking treasure dating over 1,000 years discovered in Scotland

Amongst the objects is a solid silver cross thought to date from the 9th or 10th century, a silver pot of west European origin, which is likely to have already been 100 years old when it was buried and several gold objects.

A large Carolingian Lidded Vessel is part of a hoard of Viking gold and silver artefacts dating back over 1,000 years.

A hoard of Viking gold and silver artifacts dating back over 1,000 years has been discovered by a treasure hunter with a metal detector in Scotland, in a find hailed by experts as one of the country's most significant.

Derek McLennan, a retired businessman, uncovered the 100 items in a field in Dumfriesshire, southwest Scotland, in September.

Amongst the objects is a solid silver cross thought to date from the 9th or 10th century, a silver pot of west European origin, which is likely to have already been 100 years old when it was buried and several gold objects.

An early Christian cross is seen in this photograph received in London on October 14, 2014.

"Experts have begun to examine the finds, but it is already clear that this is one of the most significant Viking hoards ever discovered in Scotland," Scotland's Treasure Trove unit said in a statement.

The Viking hoard is McLennan's second significant contribution to Scotland's understanding of its past. Last year, he and a friend unearthed around 300 medieval coins in the same area of Scotland.

"The Vikings were well known for having raided these shores in the past, but today we can appreciate what they have left behind," said Scotland's secretary for cultural and external affairs, Fiona Hyslop.

The Vikings, of Scandinavian origin, made successive raids on Britain from the 8th to the 11th centuries, burying their valuables for safe-keeping, which have gradually been discovered by generations of treasure seekers.
A golden pin is one of the Viking gold and silver artifacts discovered by a treasure hunter with a metal detector in Scotland. STRINGER/Reuters A golden pin is one of the Viking gold and silver artifacts discovered by a treasure hunter with a metal detector in Scotland.

A 10th-century Viking hoard was found in 2007 in northern England, while in 1840 over 8,600 items were found in northwest England.

The latest find, also containing a rare silver cup engraved with animals which dates from the Holy Roman Empire, and a gold bird pin, is the largest to be found in Scotland since 1891 and could be worth a six-figure sum, the BBC said.

A golden pin is one of the Viking gold and silver artifacts discovered by a treasure hunter with a metal detector in Scotland.  

Celtic Mirrors: Birdlip Grave Group

1st century BC — mid 1st century AD

Discovered in 1879, found in Female burial, Birdlip Gloucestershire.

“Buried with a group of iron-age treasures around AD 50 along with the owner. In 1879 workmen discovered three skeletons in a quarry between Crickley and Birdlip overlooking the Vale of Gloucester. With the bones were some amazing Iron Age artifacts. The most important object is a handheld mirror of bronze.” 

“The Birdlip mirror design on the back of the bronze mirror is etched in to the metal. The pattern is composed of interlocking triskeles which end in groups of two or three flourishes. The handle of the mirror consists of a series of interlocking loops, the final loop, encloses another smaller circle of metal. Red enamel dots can be found on this circle, as well as on the top of the handle, where the handle meets the body of the mirror. This area could be defined as a pelta, or a small mushroom shape, similar in form to the Egyptian lotus bud.”

The front of this was originally highly polished for reflections, but the rear is decorated with flowing patterns worked into the metal. It is one of the finest items of Celtic art to survive in Britain and perhaps the finest example housed outside a national museum. The smaller items are also remarkable. There are fine bronze bowls and bracelets. The stylised face of a bird or animal can be seen in a silver gilt brooch and a bronze knife handle is shaped as the head of a bull or ox. There is also a bead necklace of amber and an exotic stone possible collected from as far away as China.

Celtic Mirrors

Desborough Mirror 

One of the most beautiful items of Celtic treasure are mirrors. These were owned by well-off ladies and were made of bronze. One side was polished brightly for the lady to see herself. The back and handle were usually decorated, with engraved lines and shapes.

Often spaces between lines were filled with 'hatching' - little marks cut into the bronze, to make an area 'darker', so the overall pattern stands out better. It is these decorations that make many Celtic mirrors great works of art.

The Celts are oft portrayed as barbarians only interested in drinking and fighting. This mirror alludes to another facet of Celtic culture: fashion and grooming. This artifact has an intricate swirling design that may have been mapped out with a compass, which is typical of La Tene art. There are several faces hidden in the design that had not been discovered until a while after its initial excavation and examination.

The level of detail certainly indicates the prestige of the owner and also sheds some light on Celtic culture. Roman historians would have us believe that the Celts were an uncultured people, however this artifact proves they also would appear to have an interest in personal hygiene and appearance. Dating to 100 BC, the mirror accentuates the social standing of women in Celtic Society, indicating that they may have had a similar role to that of Anglo Saxon women holding authority over men in certain social situations.

The Great Chesterford Mirror

The Great Chesterford Mirror, though only twenty three and one half centimeters, displays a magnificent design.  This Celtic bronze mirror, much like the Old Warden Mirror from Bedfordshire, contains a design based on three-sided voids, rather than lobe patterns.  Six matted shapes are located around the perimeter of the mirror.  These shapes appear in different form, yet all are connected by the interwoven basket-hatching.

The artist who created this mirror included a Celtic trademark found in many other mirrors, metamorphosis.  First, one bird-like image and one human image appear in the design.  When holding the mirror in hand, a human face emerges near the top of the mirror.  Two closed roundels form the eyes, while the nose is formed by a three-sided void.  After hanging the mirror from the wall, the bird-like image pops out causing the human face to disappear.  Again, a closed roundel forms the eye, while the nose is created with an elongated three-sided void.

Another Celtic trademark included in this design is tripilism.  As mentioned earlier, three-sided voids dominate the mirror back.  Two tiny triskeles are present, one located to the far left of the design and the other located to the far right of the mirror.  These triskeles consist of three appendages.  Four rosettes are present, three of these rosettes have closed roundels while one rosette is open.  Tripilism is also seen in the mirror handle.  Three circle-in-circle figures attach the handle to the mirror.

Nothing about his design is symmetrical, thus making it extremely unique.  At first glance, many other Celtic Mirrors appear symmetrical, however, upon closer examination, the viewer notices slight asymmetry.  The design on the Great Chesterford Mirror does not at all appear to have symmetry.  The mirror handle, on the other hand, does have symmetry; much like handles on Celtic Mirrors.

The Great Chesterford mirror
Essex, England
1st century BCE
British Museum, London

Cong Abbey

Cong Abbey is a historic site located at Cong, on the borders of counties Galway and Mayo, in Ireland's province of Connacht. The ruins of the former Augustinian abbey mostly date to the 13th century and have been described as featuring some of finest examples of medieval ecclestial architecture in Ireland.

In the early 7th century, a church was built at this site, reportedly by Saint Feichin. A later building was destroyed by fire in 1114. Within the next twenty years or so, Turlough Mor O’Connor, the High King of Ireland, refounded the abbey.

 In 1198, his son, Ruaidrí Ua Conchobair (Rory O'Connor), Ireland's last High King, constructed new buildings and also lived the last 15 years of his life at the abbey.  He died here and was reportedly briefly buried in the abbey before being re-interred and buried at Clonmacnoise.

Doorway with carving of Rory O’Connor
Stone carving of Rory O’Connor

Cong Abbey was suppressed in 1542 during the reign of Henry VIII. Although it was at times used by monks after that point, it later fell into ruins.

The last (nominal) abbot was Father Patrick Prendergast, parish priest of Cong from 1795 until his death in 1829. He was the preserver of the Cross of Cong. After his death, the cross was bought by James MacCullagh for the Royal Irish Academy.

The remains of Cong Abbey have been praised as featuring some of the finest examples of early gothic architecture and masonry in Ireland.The present church, and possibly the fragmentary cloister where the monks worked and prayed, belong to the rebuilding of the early 13th century.

Cong Cloister

The north doorway of the church, and the elaborate doorways that open onto the cloister from the east range of the monastery, may pre-date the attack by William de Burgo. The doorway with two fine windows on either side belongs to the chapter house, where the monastery’s daily business was conducted as well as a chapter of the rule being read each day. This was also where the community gathered to confess their sins publicly. The sculpture in the abbey, which is some of the finest in Ireland, suggests links to French styles of the period.

North Doorway

The grounds of the abbey also contain a monks’ fishing house, probably built in the 15th or 16th century, on an island in the River Cong leading towards nearby Lough Corrib.

The house is built on a platform of stones over a small arch which allows the river to flow underneath the floor. There is a trapdoor in the floor in which the fish may have been kept fresh. According to local tradition, a line was connected from the fishing house to the monastery kitchen to alert the cook to fresh fish.

Cross of Cong and the Clonmacnoise Crozier

The cross consists of an oak cross, covered in gold, silver, niello, copper, bronze, brass, enamel, coloured glass, and is highly decorated in interlacing animals and serpents. It measures 30 inches tall and 19 inches wide and was used as a processional cross. It is said it contained a piece of the true cross.

The cross of Cong was made in 1123 in Roscommon at the order of the High King of Ireland of the time, Turlough O'Conor. It is oak covered in plates of gilt-bronze.

There is an inscription which reads: In this cross is preserved the cross on which suffered the Founder of the World, and Pray for Turlough O'Conor, King of Ireland, and Abbot O'Duffy, and for the artist Maol Iosa O'Echan.

Detail Cross of Cong Ireland

The cross is now on display in the National Museum, Dublin.

Clonmacnoise crozier, eleventh century

A crosier is the stylized staff of office (pastoral staff).

 The most evocative aspect of the decoration is the snake-like animals in figure-of-eight patterns that decorate the sides

Ancient Celtic Gold Crosses

Holderness Cross

This high-status gold and garnet cross was found in Burton Pidsea on the Holderness Peninsula, East Yorkshire. It dates to the seventh century and is an early example of the Christian symbol of a cross being made in Anglo-Saxon England using a technique known from pagan jewellery of the period. The cloisonne cell work is filled with shaped garnets; only fifty-eight of the original ninety-five garnets survive. X-Ray diffraction has indicated that the garnets were set in a bedding of calcium carbonate, a technique common for Anglo-Saxon jewellery. This technique was being used in Anglia which is where the cross may also have been made.

There are similarities between the Holderness cross and another found in a grave at Ixworth in Suffolk in about 1856.

Ixworth Cross
The cross was found in a grave at Ixworth in Suffolk in about 1856.

The grave also contained a jewelled disc brooch (AN1909.454) and some iron staples thought to be from a coffin.

Ixworth Brooch
These items suggest the owner was certain wealthy and probably important to their community.

Cross from the Anglo-Saxon Ship-Burial at Sutton Hoo