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  • Towie Ball, Collette Davis | www.26treasures.com
    my caffeine riddled veins when I laid my eyes upon it Oh my god it s tiny In my mind this 3000 year old carved stone ball was like those big bad spheres from World s Strongest Man It is not It s a wee thing that could easily fit in the palm of your hand if only I could touch it The hairs stood on end from my ankles to my ears as I found myself in the presence of greatness The Towie Ball is classified as a Prestige Object and I m starting to feel quite smug that my treasure is so very prestige Intricate spirals and concentric circles have been painstakingly etched into the glacial Aberdeenshire stone It sits serene next to a vicious spiked stone ball and what looks like an antiquated grenade They are surrounded by Jadeite axes and maceheads carved from flint and antlers But this is no weapon The spirals are the key to unlocking the secret of the enigmatic Towie Stone whose use is wholly unknown The pattern can be found on the kerbs of the passage tombs in Newgrange Ireland They appear on the lintels of ceremonial monuments in Orkney And you can find them on maceheads discovered in Norfolk The spiral is thought to be a symbol of power and seems to be associated with life death and the supernatural If you had one of these in your back pocket you were probably a pretty big deal back in the day Before I came to Edinburgh to meet Alison and The Towie Stone I thought I might apply the Structuralist school of thought to my object Intent on understanding its use and purpose many an enthusiast and archeologist has sought to impose their reading upon it These Neolithic mysteries are

    Original URL path: http://www.26treasures.com/creationstories/towie-ball-collette-davis (2016-02-12)
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  • Instrument of Authority, David Manderson | www.26treasures.com
    cries of rage from the markets and taverns the unrest at the selling of a nation for English gold or gold of any sort Maybe he knew that the significance of the jewels was much greater than their value or their symbolic power Perhaps he believed as many others did that they were the soul of Scotland something people would sell their lives for They already had during Cromwell s brief but brutal reign when they had been shielded against overwhelming odds in Dunnottar Castle and then smuggled out a frantic desperate escape to be buried again in Kinneff Chapel for eight years until Charles II mounted the throne and Cromwell s head rested on a pike Maybe he knew that symbols though they were they stood for something like the Stone of Scone that people would remember and long for again The Which Day Local poets on that fateful day in 1707 even gave the Honours a voice sadly lamenting their fate The Croun s last speech 26 March 1707 When lodged in ye castle of Edinr after ye rising of ye parliament I royal diadem relinquisht stand By all my friends and robbed of my land So left bereft of all I did command And they were indeed lost In fact the crown orb and sceptre were to disappear for over a hundred years forgotten the cast off relic of a cast off nation And not until a new era had set in and a young Borders lawyer who was rapidly becoming a best selling author and an international publishing sensation Walter Scott set out to trace them were they found again Scott used the Instrument to prove that the Honours were still in the castle after all it said they would be there forever and it was

    Original URL path: http://www.26treasures.com/creationstories/instrument-authority-david-manderson (2016-02-12)
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  • Cramond Lioness, Stephen Potts | www.26treasures.com
    at last A rebellious general convinced his cause will yet prevail The sandstone is probably British and possibly local Yet apart from Toblerone teeth the lioness is terrifyingly naturalistic as if the sculptor had surely seen such beasts close up in the wild or in the cages under the Coliseum So his stone might be local but sculptor and subject are not Why did he come to Britain Why to this the Northernmost frontier of the Roman Empire Was he exiled here To serve a military master with decorations for his tomb And was this indeed its purpose as the snakes curling over the plinth are said to imply The story of its discovery bears telling Although two million tides had ebbed and flooded over its head since Roman days winter storms in 1996 scoured the concealing and protective silt away to expose the lioness face at low spring tides Positioned as it was below the quayside steps Mr Graham thought it first a rock which might damage his boat and then as its carved nature emerged a possible garden ornament for his Forth side lawn But when he set to digging it out he soon saw it was something greatly more substantial and reported his find Careful excavation removal cleaning and preservation followed until now it crouches menacing and powerful in the NMS It is remarkable that the building of the Cramond quay did not lead to its earlier discovery to damage or to encasement in concrete but how it came to be there in the first place is to my mind the most interesting question of all I picture the Picts exploring the fort after the Romans have finally abandoned it and headed south to begin their long slow implosion of Empire They pick over the empty buildings

    Original URL path: http://www.26treasures.com/creationstories/cramond-lioness-stephen-potts (2016-02-12)
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  • The Maiden, James Robertson | www.26treasures.com
    Thomas Newcomen s 1712 steam engine actually used to pump water from coalmines in Ayrshire It therefore represents progress of a kind but the Maiden was still at work and was not retired until 1720 By that time it or she as we might refer to her in deference to her name had removed the heads of more than 120 people Hanging became the modern way of carrying out capital punishment As late as 1820 though the leaders of the Radical Rising had their heads chopped off in Stirling with an axe as a warning to other would be rebels against the state They however were already dead having been hanged first The Maiden was a big boned lass ten feet tall and with a heavy oak frame but she was also portable When not in use she was dismantled and packed away in storage then reassembled to perform her grisly task at various locations in Edinburgh including the Grassmarket Castlehill and the Mercat Cross It s said that she acquired her virginal name because she wasn t used for a number of years after being built Maybe this is true but the French called their beheading machine Madame Guillotine so it could be more about the macabre allure of femmes fatales in popular culture Women who kill are much rarer than men who kill and are therefore often regarded with greater horror and hatred The man believed to have introduced her to Scotland James Douglas 4 th Earl of Morton also became one of her victims In 1581 he was found guilty of involvement in the murder of Queen Mary s husband Darnley back in 1567 Morton was condemned to be hanged but Mary s son King James VI ordered that the instrument of death should be the Maiden

    Original URL path: http://www.26treasures.com/creationstories/maiden-james-robertson (2016-02-12)
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  • Gown of Repentence, Jamie Jauncey | www.26treasures.com
    of the great seventeenth and eighteenth century instruments of ecclesiastical discipline Otherwise known as the Stool and Gown of Repentance they were to be sat upon or worn in front of the congregation by fornicators adulterers slanderers and other wrongdoers Jonet Gothskirk was one such Between July and November 1677 she appeared before the congregation of West Calder kirk on thirteen successive Sundays for her adultery with a certain William Murdoch Because of her stupidity and that she could discover no sense or feeling of her sin nor sorrow for ye same she continued to wear the gown each Sunday week after week while the minister fulminated at her wickedness Nature eventually intervened and she was released on account of the imminent arrival of her child But what did she feel what did she think to herself while she stood there Sunday after Sunday her belly swelling her legs aching the sackcloth scratching at her skin Did she look out at the congregation and read behind the pursed lips the solemn faces There but by the grace of God go I Did she glance at the minister and rage at the hypocrisy that the Bard would immortalise a century later in Holy Willie s Prayer Was she so cowed by the collective opprobrium that she simply stood there and hung her head in misery Did she long to be back in the arms of William Murdoch for whom no punishment was recorded Was she simply resigned to her fate Or was she too fearful for her own future and that of her child to think of anything but what she would do when her present ordeal ended I don t know but I have to find out because now that I ve been to see the gown it s Jonet

    Original URL path: http://www.26treasures.com/creationstories/gown-repentence-jamie-jauncey (2016-02-12)
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  • Darien Chest, Lee Randall | www.26treasures.com
    of swirling strips of iron which mesh or push past one another to activate the intricate mechanism They terminate in carved arrows while tiny unnecessary flowers cover the heads of bolts or joins Someone with an eye for beauty took time crafting this object Someone proud to win the commission for such an important treasure chest Someone perhaps who believed it stood for Scotland s brave new future who unlocked his own smaller casket to retrieve coins to the worth of 5 to invest in the Company of Scotland I misbehaved during my visit During a summer internship at the Cloisters museum many years back I learned that there are two mortal sins of museum going walking backwards and touching the exhibits I knew that and I touched the chest anyway to understand how cold and hard and enduring it was Then making certain no one was looking I leaned down and inhaled pulling the stench of iron so like blood right into my lungs I very nearly crawled into the chest It looked roughly the right size to accommodate someone bent double The allure of history has been with me always As a kid I wondered about everyone who d gone before never speculating forward about rocket ships or life on Mars I was immediately attracted to the concept behind 26 Treasures because while the facts and figures comprising human history are compelling I ve always been amazed at how universal and unchanged are the complex emotions linking people of every nation and throughout millennia Thus armed with a bit of imagination and information it s tremendously tempting to slip into someone else s skin and feel the world as it once was Leaving the museum with the ferrous tang of the Darien Chest clinging to my fingers I

    Original URL path: http://www.26treasures.com/creationstories/darien-chest-lee-randall (2016-02-12)
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  • Peden's Mask and Wig, Fiona Thompson | www.26treasures.com
    ministers who signed the 1638 National Covenant that opposed interference in the Scottish church by the Stuart monarchy He was on the run from government forces for 11 years and preached at illegal conventicle meetings on hillsides to thousands of believers By 1670 preaching at conventicles was punishable by death Peden would have worn this wig and mask in the hope of evading government forces By the way read The Fanatic by James Robertson for a fascinating insight into the Covenanting ministers who lived and died during the Killing Times when up to 18 000 people were brutally put to death Despite being sent to the Bass Rock the Scottish Alcatraz Peden avoided the hangman s rope and died a natural death aged 60 But he seems to be a footnote among Covenanting ministers and many details of his life evade capture However there s a chapter on Peden in Scots Worthies by John Howie which discredits talk of his prophecies and you can see his bible in Greyfriars Kirk open appropriately enough at the Book of Job One of a kind I d presumed that all Covenanting ministers would have worn masks But curator George Dalgleish says that this is the only surviving example and that there is no documented evidence that it was a common practice for Covenanters to disguise themselves this way And the closer you look at the mask the stranger it becomes How would you make your sermon heard through that tiny mouth crowded with wooden teeth Why are there feathers stitched around the eyes Isn t that a strangely theatrical decoration for a Presbyterian minister And why are there spots of what look like greasepaint on the cheeks Was this originally a theatrical mask adapted for a different type of stage and performance We

    Original URL path: http://www.26treasures.com/creationstories/pedens-mask-and-wig-fiona-thompson (2016-02-12)
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  • Westlothiana Lizziae, Aimee Chalmers | www.26treasures.com
    waater Let s nae argie bargie aboot the turn o her ankle though some jalouse that maks her an amphibian Let s mak believe Lizzie is a reptile The bad news mibbe her particlar evolutionary line cam tae a sticky end lang ago Let s mak believe it didnae Reptiles the day an mammals shared an ancestor awa back in time so Lizzie micht be oor distant relative But I m nae even gaein tae try tae work that oot I aye thocht a great aunt was somebodie that gied ye a penny and I still get dottled wi second cousins twice removed Mair mixter maxter Lizzie s secret the lassie could be a laddie And if that s richt she s surely Jock Tamson and we re her bairns Whit on earth can I scrieve Westlothiana lizziae Westlothiana Lizzie West lothi Ana Lizzie Anna Lizzie That s braw Annie Lizzie in Scots Annie Lizzie Whaur hae I heard that afore The sands o time rin doon doon The years turn blin and spare Annie Lizzie s gane and wi her A that s young and fair But Hereawa or thereawa On midsummer s eve Young Annie Lizzie s At her game o Mak Belive Midsummer s eve Mak believe Spooky Whit wey did Marion Angus dae that References The Fox s Skin The Tinker s Road and Links o Lunan by Marion Angus in The Singin Lass Selected Work of Marion Angus Poygon 2006 Westlothiana lizziae A collection of poems by Marion Angus 1865 1946 fell from a library shelf as if by magic at my feet Her Scots tongue inspired me Her mystical and ghostly poetry and her enduring interest in the cyclical nature of time fascinated me A thoosand years o clood and flame An a thing s the same and aye the same So when I read in her obituary no life could be less conspicuous I was angry enough to do some research I wrote a biography introduction to a selection of her work It wasn t enough I wanted a perspective more in tune with her spirit as revealed through her attitudes and values Uncanny coincidences made me shiver as I journeyed with her along her Tinker s Road but five years later I won ower the tap finished a novel which gets nearer the truth than facts did What happens now What do I do next Will I be able to move on turn my back on Marion Three weeks of uncertainty then 26Treasures appeared as if by magic on my laptop screen I left Marion behind without regret The National Museum of Scotland I jumped at the chance I ve always felt proud to be Scots but my first visit to what was then a very new museum was quite emotional 650 million years of Scottish history I can t think of Westlothiana lizziae as my object She s like a character in one of Marion s poems a moment of history

    Original URL path: http://www.26treasures.com/creationstories/westlothiana-lizziae-aimee-chalmers (2016-02-12)
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