Page images

and the so-called Market Gate (Oil Market). The bottom was lined with slate covered with Time may reveal.

[blocks in formation]

sand. The size of the chamber would seem to indicate that it had contained several persons. A handsome flint dagger was found.

In the pulling down of an old building near Sköfele a remarkable iron slab has been found, 85 centimètres in height, and 67 in breadth. It is divided into two halves, the upper one of which represents in high relief the fight of St. George with the Dragon. The drawing is excellent, and the contours as distinct as if just cast. Behind the horse the princess is seen standing on an eminence before the castle absorbed in prayer, a lamb being represented below, the symbol of innoAbove St. George is seen an angel, stretching forth the wreath of victory and sounding the trumpet of fame. The lower part is nearly destroyed by rust, but some figures of animals can be made out, as, for instance, a squirrel standing on the back of some other animal blowing a horn, and two female figures. It is considered that the work is several hundred years old.


* * * During the present summer the Swedish Academy of Archæology has twelve eminent savants at work in various parts of Sweden, one continuing the examination of the interesting cave on Great Carl's Island, in the Baltic, referred to in our July issue. * * *

In cutting a peat bog at Vendsyssel, in Denmark, the other day, two large bronze rings were found, both being alike. They weigh

lb. each, and are held together with hooks. They were, no doubt, used as an orna


* * *

At the ancient castle of Herlufsholm, one of the most important in Denmark, some interesting MSS. have been discovered, among them being autograph letters from several rulers during the Middle Ages. One document, dated 750 years ago, is pronounced to be the oldest MS. extant in Scandinavia.

* * *

A historical antiquarian society has been. formed at Kolding, and it is the intention to establish an archæological museum in the best preserved rooms of the ruins of the old castle of that name.

The Archæological Society of Randers has carried out the excavations of several of the curious "kitchen middens" found in Denmark, the result being highly interesting. The society is to build itself a new museum.

Apropos of the discovery of some ancient frescoes in a Danish church, referred to in our last issue, Prof. Magnus Petersen read a paper at the meeting of the Royal Northern Ancient Record Society of Copenhagen. There are in Denmark sufficient church frescoes to follow the development of this art from the twelfth to the sixteenth century. The earliest were the best executed in every respect, as after the year 1300 there is a deterioration. From the subsequent period there are few frescoes in Denmark due to the continual wars, but from the fifteenth century there are many. However, the subjects are then changed. Instead of the earlier representations from the life of Christ, the subjects are realistic, and intended to inspire horror. The devil, hell, with all its horrors, etc., are then the subjects preferred. It is, therefore, the more remarkable to have discovered in Skive Church frescoes dating from 1522 with purely Biblical subjects. In the dome of the choir are painted the Lord and the Saviour surrounded by worshipping angels, whilst in the five domes of the nave are portraits of Apostles and saints. Even after the Reformation, down to 1562, portraits are drawn of saints, and from this period, too, there is a fresco in Skævinge Church, by Frederikoborg, representing the well-known myth of Holger Danske, the only one of its kind in Denmark.

An archæological discovery of considerable interest has been made in a quarry at Kertsch, in southern Russia. The workmen came upon a catacomb with numerous inscriptions, emblems, and frescoes. It has the form of a chamber, borne by thirteen pillars, artistically ornamented. One of the latter bears the following inscription: "The Judge Sorak built this sanctum without removing the human bones found here. May no one touch or desecrate my corpse! for he who does so shall not enter the realm of the spirits."

The museum at Constantinople, in which are stored all the antique treasures found in the Turkish Empire, is being enlarged with a new wing. Its completion is eagerly awaited, as here is to be mounted the magnificent sarcophagus discovered some time ago at Sidon, believed to be that of Alexander the Great, besides other treasures. Hamdi Bey, the well-known director, will issue an important pamphlet upon the former. It is reported that in the same locality where this sarcophagus was found a chamber has been discovered with five splendid sarcophagi, which are also to be brought to Constantinople.

An archæological find of interest has been made at Tier, consisting of the torso of an equestrian statue, a fairly well-preserved Triton, and a second equestrian statue with a postament 1 mètres in height. The latter represents a Roman soldier charging, and a conquered barbarian lies between the horse's feet. In the postament are four niches which have evidently contained statuettes. Two have been found representing Minerva and Juno, with the head of a third statuette, apparently that of a Hercules. It is surmised that the fourth statuette was one of Mercury. The statuettes are cut in the red sandstone common in the district. The statue is no doubt that of some celebrated warrior. Similar memorials and figures have been found several times in the adjacent Gallo-Germanic provinces. The museum at Mayence possesses five similar memorials.

[blocks in formation]

covered in Peru while clearing the ground for a railway in the neighbourhood of Yurimaguas, a small place on one of the affluents of the Upper Maranon, in the great plain which lies at the foot of the Eastern Cordilleras. There was an enclosing wall of great extent fully 80 inches thick, the enclosure within being divided by other walls into halls and smaller chambers. The plan and the painted inscriptions resemble what has been found in other places ascertained to be ancient Peruvian temples; hence it is inferred that this also was a similar temple. Several buildings of this kind have been found scattered over Peru. The Spaniards demolished them, and floods bearing quantities of sand from the Cordilleras covered over the remains, to be succeeded later by a growth of shrubs and even trees, quite hiding from view the masonry underneath. The Peruvian Government has been moved by this recent discovery, and some regular excavations will be undertaken on sites where temples and even towns are known to have existed prior to the conquest.

the past, connected directly with the most stirring events of the fourteenth century!

The red-brick building which faces the spectator, though modern in outward appearance, is only the outer coating or shell of the splendid Baronial Hall of the castle, in which Courts and Parliaments have been held for 600 years. The grand proportions of this room must strike everyone: the walls seven feet in thickness, the high roof timbered with massive beams, and the great width and length, which admit of courts of justice, juryrooms, staircase, etc., being built inside it without any crowding or inconvenience. Two of the original Norman windows only are left to show what the effect must have been when the hall was entirely lighted by them.

The river Soar, now being utilized as a canal, runs just below the castle, and must have greatly increased the strength of its position.

Just below the two Norman windows already mentioned is a flight of underground steps, leading to what is called the dungeon, a vaulted chamber in excellent preservation, which adjoins the grassy mount, formerly crowned by the keep, but now encircled with trees. Beyond this, "John of Gaunt's arch

Leicester Castle and its Pro way" fills up the immediate foreground, and

posed Demolition.


IN a quiet nook at the outskirts of the thriving town of Leicester stands a group of buildings which, in historical interest can hardly be surpassed in the Midlands. Turning out of the stream of traffic which fills the modern streets of the old Danelagh stronghold, a green oasis presents itself, entered through an old, timbered archway, which cuts off the present from the past, the world of dream from the world of business. Here round a grass plat are grouped, as in the Middle Ages, a church, an assize hall, medieval gateways, the mound of a castle-keep, and a hospital for the aged poor.

Interesting even to the casual observer, how much more so is this scene to those who realize that they are looking on a remnant of

St. Mary's Church faces the castle.

Before describing the remainder of this historical group of buildings, it may be well to think over a few of the reminiscences connected with the spot. The date of the foundation of the earliest castle at Leicester is lost in antiquity, but, to come down to comparatively modern days, it was rebuilt by Simon de Montfort, the great Earl of Leicester, in the thirteenth century. The hall was then "a large apartment, with aisles formed by two rows of oak pillars supporting the roof, five on each side, thirty feet high, with carved capitals."

After the defeat and death of De Montfort, King Henry III. granted his possessions at Leicester to his son Edmund Plantagenet, the founder of that great family of Lancaster, with whose history and fortunes Leicester is so closely connected.

The two sons of Prince Edmund (Thomas and Henry) were successively Earls of Leicester, Derby, and Lancaster, as after the execu

tion of the former for rebellion, the younger son Henry was restored "in blood and honours," A.D. 1327, and married to Maud Chaworth, a wealthy ward of his cousin, King Edward. This earl and his countess seem to have made Leicester one of their principal residences, as Throsby tells us "he settled himself to live, for the most part, at his Castle of Leicester, wherein he took great delight, and began the foundations of the Hospital of Our Lady in the fourth year of King Edward III." It is easy to imagine the gaiety and splendour of the entertainments that took place under the timbered roof of the great hall that we still stand in, and the imposing nature of the ceremony there when, in 1345, Henry, Earl of Lancaster, died, and was buried in the presence of "King Edward III. and his queen, with almost all the bishops, earls and barons of the realm." This ceremony probably took place in the church of St. Mary de Castro, a few paces from the castle, still remarkable for its Norman work and most curious font.

Henry, Earl of Derby, the only son of Henry and Maud Chaworth, was one of the greatest benefactors that Leicester ever possessed. He was also a typical knight of the fourteenth century, one of Froissart's heroes, brave, merciful, courteous, chivalrous, and religious. He was the King's representative in France, the counsellor of the Black Prince, and succeeded his father in the stewardship of England. "Being," as an old writer says, thus in honour and very rich, he undertook an expedition against the Infidels. But, as he was passing through Germany, he was entrapped and surprised by means of Otho, Duke of Brunswick, and was constrained for his liberty to give 3,000 scutes of gold; but our duke so resented that ill treatment, that he openly said that in case he had a mind to meddle with him, he should find him ready to perform a soldier's part; which being told to Brunswick, he sent him a letter of challenge, which was readily accepted by our duke, and a time and place appointed for performance in France. All things being made ready, the dukes took their oaths according to the laws of combat, and our duke mounted his horse with great cheerfulness, in expectation to fall to it. But it was observed that Brunswick, although brisk

enough before, as soon as he had taken his oath, his countenance fell, and his courage so quailed, looking pale and trembling, that he could not wield his sword, shield, and lance; whereupon his friends advised him to submit himself to the King of France's judgment. But our duke, being for that purpose also moved, said that before he entered the lists he should willingly have embraced an accommodation; but now he had mounted his horse and was ready, and the king, with his nobles, and a great concourse of people were become spectators, he was resolved not to go out of the lists with dishonour to himself or his country. But Brunswick, wholly giving up the quarrel without any reservation of honour, submitted himself to the award of the King of France, who soon after reunited them at a great feast. After this, the King of France entertained our duke very royally, and, showing him all his rarities, desired him to take his choice of what he pleased; but the duke only accepted of a thorn out of the crown of our Saviour, which he brought away, and bestowed as a precious relic in the Collegiate Church that he had founded near his castle of Leicester." (A drawing of this thorn and the "candlesticksocket of pure gold," in which it was fixed, is to be found in Throsby's History of Leicestershire, page 246.)

This duke, commonly called "the good Duke of Lancaster," left no son to succeed him, but by his marriage with Isabel, daughter of Lord Beaumont, he had two daughters, Maud and Blanche. The former, married to William, Duke of Bavaria, Holland, and Zealand, died very young; but Maud, by her alliance with John of Gaunt, her cousin, the son of King Edward III., carried the vast possessions of the house of Lancaster, including Leicester Castle, to her husband, who was eventually created Duke of Lancaster in right of his wife.

At Duke Henry's death in 1361, the group of buildings which we have been trying to describe the castle, the church, the hospital, and the gateways-were probably in their most perfect and magnificent state. area called the Newark, or New-Work, had been added to the castle surroundings by Duke Henry, containing the hospital (now called "the Trinity") for the use of " 100


poor and weak men," and it still bears testimony to his charity.

The will of Duke Henry (who was carried off by the pestilence, called the Black Death, in 1361) provides for his funeral with great minuteness, desiring that, if he should die at Leicester (which was the case not long afterwards), his body should be first taken to the parish church, a few steps only from his castle, and after divine service there, should be buried in his own Collegiate Church, adjoining the hospital, "without pomp of armed men, horses covered, or other vanities, only a hearse, with five tapers and 50 torches about his body, borne by as many men, 25 cloathed in white, and as many in blue."

Unfortunately, of this Collegiate Church (containing the dust of several members of so illustrious a race) not a trace remains, though in the chapel which forms a part of the Trinity Hospital is the splendid monument of Mary de Bohun, wife of Henry IV.

John of Gaunt and Blanche of Lancaster, who succeeded the good Duke Henry, continued to embellish and carry out his works in Leicester, "being also very gracious and bountiful to the town and burgesses, to whom they granted several lands, messuages, and privileges."

That John of Gaunt was popular in the town of Leicester appears from an account of an alarm raised during the revolt headed by Wat Tyler and Jack Straw, in Richard II.'s reign, when "the terror of their depredations reached Leicester," and a messenger brought word that the rebels would certainly arrive the next day to plunder and destroy the Duke of Lancaster's palace, the castle. "The duke being then in Scotland about the public concerns, the mayor and his brethren were in great straits about the duke's property, he being extremely beloved in that place." It was agreed that a proclamation should be made, calling on all the inhabitants to arm and keep watch to protect the duke's goods, which were moved for greater security into St. Mary's Church. Luckily, the rebels thought better of their design, and the duke's steward arrived from London to relieve the good townsmen of their task.

After the accession of Henry IV., the son of John of Gaunt and Blanche Plantagenet, to the throne of England, the castle of

Leicester and all the large possessions of the house of Lancaster merged in the Crown; and the castle became so ruinous, that when Richard III., in 1485, passed through Leicester, to fight the battle of Bosworth, he preferred staying at an inn to taking up his quarters at his own royal residence.

During the civil wars of the seventeenth century some severe fighting took place in Leicester, and "the Newark was carried by assault by the King's troops just before the battle of Naseby.

The Trinity Hospital was repaired by King George III. in the last century, someone having pointed out to him that a charity founded by the munificence of his ancestors had been allowed to fall into decay through the change of religion since their times.

And now will our readers believe that a group of buildings so ancient, so peaceful, so historically connected with the glories of our land-religiously, politically, and sociallyare already marked out for destruction by a railway! The proposed new line of the Manchester, Sheffield, and Lincolnshire Railway Company is projected to run through the great hall diagonally, just shaving St. Mary's Church by a few yards, levelling the grassy mount on which stood the keep, and whether entirely destroying or only running close past the wall of the Trinity Hospital, I am not aware; but, of course, the scheme, if carried out, means the utter destruction of this little group of historic buildings. The chairman of the Leicestershire County Council, Sir Henry Halford, will do all in his power to prevent such desecration, and we will hope that the people of Leicester will, like those of Newark, Nottingham, and Lincoln (who have carefully restored and preserved their castles and their Stonebow), refuse to allow the old Parliament House of England to be turned into an iron highway, the third in this immediate neighbourhood.

« PreviousContinue »