The Staffordshire Helmet Reconstructed

The Staffordshire Hoard is the largest and perhaps the most magnificent find from Anglo-Saxon England. The hoard dates from the 7th century and comes from the Kingdom of Mercia. It was found in 2009 by an amateur archaeologist with a metal detector, and is now owned by Birmingham and Stoke-on-Trent City Councils on behalf of the nation.

The vast majority of items in the hoard are war gear, especially sword fittings. Among the items, all of which are of exceptionally high quality, is a helmet. Two copies of a reconstruction completed in 2018 are now available for public viewing, one in Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (Birmingham, England) and the other in The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery (Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England).

And it’s utterly breathtaking!

Twitter Staffordshire Hoard Helmet on Model Sm

Potteries Museum Staffordshire Helmet Sm

The so-called Staffordshire Helmet is very rare—only five other Anglo-Saxon helmets are known—and looks exquisite: the gold filigree with red accents make an arresting combination, and the dyed crest adds to the wearer’s height.

Birmingham Museum Staffordshire Helmet Sm

As Erik pointed out, ancient Greeks and Romans portrayed northwestern barbarians as violent, ignorant, savage, and lacking in technology and social organization. On the basis of the Staffordshire Hoard alone, whatever else they were, there’s absolutely no basis in calling Anglo-Saxons technologically unskilled!

Visit The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery or Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery for more.

Found via Express & Star on Twitter.

Images: Staffordshire Helmet worn by model via Staffordshire Hoard on Twitter. Side view via Staffordshire Hoard. Front view via Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.

Out There is an occasional feature highlighting intriguing art, spaces, places, phenomena, flora, and fauna.

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An End and a New Beginning for Bede’s World

Bede’s World, a small museum in Jarrow, Tyne & Wear, Northumbria, dedicated to the Venerable Bede and 7th-century England, shut down its operations in February 2016.

Bedes World Main Entry

Bedes World Entrance Inside

In addition to indoor exhibits, the museum includes several replica wattle and daub buildings, modeled on structures excavated in Anglo-Saxon Northumbria and built with original materials and contemporary methods. On the grounds there is also a herb garden and a working farm with a small collection of rare breed animals resembling those that lived 1,300 years ago.

Bedes World Collage

The museum issued the following statement:

“It is with great regret that the Trustee Board took the decision for Bedes World [sic] to cease operation from Friday 12 February 2016 due to a lack of funds.

“Steps are being taken to put the company into administration through the appointment of an Insolvency Practitioner.

“The Trustee Board have made arrangements for the immediate care of the farm animals and the security of the site.

“The Board would like thank all staff, volunteers and stakeholders for their hard work and dedication to Bedes World. [sic]”

Fortunately, only a few weeks afterwards better news surfaced: a new operator was found to run the site. At this writing it isn’t clear what their plans for Bede’s World are, though. (Follow this link to read the statement by Groundwork South Tyneside and Newcastle, the new operator.)

Found via Anne Bennett and BBC.

Images: Bede’s World main entrance, outside view via Bede’s World. Other photographs by Eppu Jensen

New Beowulf Adaptation: Return to the Shieldlands

ITV Studios is producing a new Beowulf adaptation. Named Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands, the mini-series puts a modern spin on one of the oldest poems in Old English. According to Esquire Network:

“Based on the complex protagonist of a classic poem written between the eighth and tenth century, Beowulf takes place in a mythological place, The Shieldlands, and challenges the notions of good and evil, heroes and villains, and the rule of law against one’s moral code. The drama stars Kieran Bew (DA VINCI’S DEMONS), in the lead role Beowulf; multi-award- winning actor William Hurt (DAMAGES); acclaimed actress Joanne Whalley (WOLF HALL); Ed Speleers (DOWNTON ABBEY) and David Ajala (BLACK BOX).”

IMDB Beowulf Return to the Shieldlands
Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands, ITV via IMDB

Beowulf: RttS started airing in U.K early January 2016, and Esquire Network is bringing it to U.S. January 23. Location work for the production was shot in the north east of England, in county Durham and Northumberland; 13 episodes have been produced so far. The show has a very perfunctory Instagram account and a more active Facebook page. There’s also a behind the scenes piece with live action clips:

Beowulf Behind The Scenes The World Revealed with Kieran Bew and Ed Speleers via Esquire Network

Beowulf: RttS definitely holds some promise. Apart from being inspired by Actual History(TM) and Anglo-Saxons / Old English to boot, it sounds like there’s some gender-bending (International Business Times reports a “new female thane”); in addition, photos include not just white men among the cast (see MedievalPOC and Farawaysite.com).

IMDB Beowulf Return to the Shieldlands2
Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands, ITV via IMDB

While I’m excited about the recent resurgence of genre films and tv productions in general, I’m discouraged by the apparent lack of quality control that comes with trying to ride the trend to make a quick buck. (Vikings, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, or 2015 Fantastic Four, anyone?)

Sadly, it sounds like Beowulf: RttS might be one of them: according to U.K news site Metro, viewers criticize the series for its “unconvincing CGI, stilted dialogue and unrealistic action sequences” and as “a blatant rip-off ” of Game of Thrones. I can add to the list some decidedly silly costuming and a peculiar combination of plausible and fanciful in the sets and props. I’m torn whether to give it a shot or not – on one hand, it’s based on Beowulf, for crying out loud; on the other, WTF is going on with the design!?

In the Seen on Screen occasional feature, we discuss movies and television shows of interest.