Posts by David Gill

David Gill is Professor of Archaeological Heritage and Director of Heritage Futures at the University of Suffolk.

Nelson, Neptune and Britannia at Greenwich

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Greenwich, Nelson pediment © David Gill

The Nelson pediment at Greenwich is full of classical allusion. It was designed by Benjamin West and completed in 1812 (not the inscription below the central group).

At the centre is the body of Nelson presented to the helmeted Britannia by a Triton on behalf of Neptune (at the left). A winged victory presents Neptune’s trident to Britannia, indicating that Nelson’s victory has provided control of the sea. A British sailor is adjacent to Neptune with the announcement ‘Trafalgar’.

On the other wide are the personifications of the nation states of Great Britain: Scotland (with a thistle), England (with a rose), and Ireland (with a shamrock). (Note the absence of Wales.) Between these ‘kingdoms’ and Britannia is a winged figure (a ‘Naval Genius’) reminding the viewer of the victories at the Nile and Copenhagen. The lion holds a tablet reminding us of the 122 (CXXII) battles fought by Nelson.

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Greenwich, Nelson pediment © David Gill

The pediment forms part of the Nelson Trail in Greenwich.

Tantallon Castle: lean-to buildings

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Tantallon Castle © David Gill

The inside of the curtain-wall at Tantallon Castle has a series of horizontal sockets. The Ministry sign helpfully explains them as the traces of likely lean-to buildings. The Historic Scotland guidebook by Chris Tabraham suggests the possibility that they are the remains of the ‘munition houss’ mentioned in 1566.

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Tantallon Castle © David Gill

Thomas Bewick celebrations at NT Cherryburn

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Cherryburn © David Gill

This weekend marks the anniversary of the birth of the wood-engraver Thomas Bewick at Cherryburn in Northumberland on 10 or 12 August 1753 (see ODNB). The property is now owned by the National Trust.

Further information is available from the Thomas Bewick Society and the Natural History Society of Northumbria.

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Cherryburn © David Gill

Dirleton Castle: polite request

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Dirleton Castle © David Gill

Dirleton Castle is set in landscaped grounds. Visitors are invited to keep off the banks, and to use the paths and stairways to visit the remains. This avoids unsightly tracks appearing on the slopes.

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Dirleton Castle © David Gill

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Dirleton Castle © David Gill

Easby Abbey: warning signs

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Easby Abbey © David Gill

Modern visitors to Easby Abbey enter via the staircase into the west end of the refectory.

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Easy Abbey, east end of the refectory © David Gill

The thirteenth-century doorway to the dorter carries another warning sign.

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Easby Abbey, stairs to dorter © David Gill

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Easby Abbey © David Gill

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Easby Abbey © David Gill

A further warning sign is located near the chapter house on the east side of the cloister.

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Easby Abbey © David Gill

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Easby Abbey, chapter house © David Gill

English Heritage: sponsored by Gateway

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Finchale Priory, 1987 (reprinted 1989)

English Heritage (e.g. Dartmouth Castle, Longthorpe Tower) and Historic Scotland guidebooks (e.g. Birsay, Smailholm) carried the logo of Gateway Foodmarkets Ltd. Advertising on official guidebooks has a long history.

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Aydon Castle, 1988 (reprinted 1990)

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Warkworth Castle, 3rd ed. 1990

Finchale Priory: dorter and reredorter

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Finchale Priory © David Gill

The dorter at Finchale Priory in Co. Durham is located on the east side of the cloister above the chapter house. It connected to the south transept of the church via a night stair. Sir Charles Peers suggested that the large room at the south end of the range ‘which in other monasteries served as a dayroom, is here too ill-lighted for such purpose, and at any rate in the later days of the priory can have been merely a storeroom’.

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Finchale Priory © David Gill

On the east side of the dorter was the reredorter.

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Finchale Priory © David Gill

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Finchale Priory, reredorter © David Gill