Lewes castle museum (and a couple of pubs)

The Near Lewes Hoard was on display in the Barbican House bit of Lewes Castle last weekend, with an opportunity to handle replica items from it.  At a recent B&H Archaeological Society talk a guy from Brighton University (Jamie Kaminski) spoke about 3D scanning technologies, and one thing he told us about was scanning an axe head (palstave) from the Near Sussex Hoard so that it could be 3D printed and used to make a mould to cast another bronze palstave – that is what I hoped to handle and feel the weight of.

By way of explanation the Near Lewes Hoard is a collection of middle Bronze Age items, (mainly bronze, some pottery and with a few gold items) found in a substantial clay pot a few years ago by a metal detectorist searching a field in the vicinity of Ringmer.  Presumably ‘The Near Ringmer Hoard’ didn’t have the right cache, so it became the Near Lewes Hoard, named in the stating-the-bloody-obvious manner of astronomical telescopes e.g. ‘The Very Large Telescope’.

The stuff is about 3000 to 3400 years old, so I did not expect to handle the real things.  Sadly the palstave was not available for handling, so I spent some time trying to make a broach by embossing a ‘gold’ disc with a biro (perhaps a children’s activity, but there were no children to occupy the seats).

If you are as old as me you might recall copper foil kits for embossing pictures onto - a short-lived fad in the mid-60s I think.

If you are as old as me you might recall copper foil kits for embossing pictures onto – a short-lived fad in the mid-60s I think.

It turned out to be a day of demonstrations and activities, so after a while listening to a lady wool-spinner describing the use of urine as a natural dye fixative, and the stench of an unwashed goat’s fleece, I entered a third room to find a box of ancient artefacts we could handle, and it included a Bronze Age palstave!

Me holding a real 3000 year old bronze axe head (palstave) at the Barbican House museum, Lewes.

Me holding a real 3000 year old bronze axe head (palstave) at the Barbican House museum, Lewes.

Much cheered by holding these lovely objects I strode into the nearby Rights of Man to sample a few Harvey’s ales.  Elsewhere in the diary I have written of Thomas Tipper, Newhaven brewer, so was delighted to discover a beer named after him – a one-off apparently – never to be seen again, or so I was told.  Part of a very local ale event, four new beers in 4 months served in just 4 Harvey’s houses in Lewes.

Tipper Ale in the Rights of Man.

Tipper Ale in the Rights of Man.

Tipper Ale was a pleasing stronger version of best bitter.  I also sampled Old Ale, Wild Hop and (the very best of the available choice) Harveys Porter.  Between sips I’d step outside to see how the charitable shearing of Andy was proceeding.  Andy is a very quiet man, works at the brewery and has always been thoroughly bearded.  The landlord indicated that a personal loss prompted Andy into this desperate act, which raised £600 for a local hospice.

Andy preparing for the shearing

Andy preparing for the shearing

And after the event - he expressed no regrets.

And after the event – he expressed no regrets.

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