Monday, August 8, 2011

Hidden Gems at Colchester Castle

I have returned to Colchester Castle to tell Medieval Tales and was again very taken with one of their temporary exhibitions. This one was all about buried treasures, from Anglo Saxon and English Civil War Hoards to unfinished neolithic flints and clothes and shoes secreted in the fire places, floors and walls of old houses. It was this group that really caught my eye. From mummified cats to witches pots and even this mid 17th century coat that had been hidden in a house in Malden in Essex....

The Maldon Coat

This old coat in particular really fires my imagination. Why was it hidden there? Many think they know but no one can be certain. There are those who will tell you that shoes were hidden to trap witches, for it is said they they can't walk backwards! A great story if nothing else. And the coat it too has a story to tell. It was oft times repaired and the fancy cuffs later added. Many owners perhaps each with a story. And that's the point about museum exhibits - they are far more than the sum of their interpretation panels. Don't be afraid when you see things like this coat to let loose and imagine what sights, sounds and scrapes it's wearers once got into. These tattered rags tell of its owners status, but might also hint at their aspirations, their hopes and dreams. We can all be tellers of tales and so too a raggedy old coat!

For more information of hidden clothing visit the Deliberately Concealed Garments Website here...

16th century shoes, witches pots and a mummified cat
From various Essex houses

Roman cow bells buried in a circle

Saxon through to 17th century Civil War Hoards

Thanks to Clive for another invite to the castle and the great staff, especially the two who helped me push start my car today!

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