Lecture Programme 2022
online lecture only
Jewels at the Court of Henry VIII
Henry VIII’s posthumous inventory contained thousands of sumptuous jewels and precious stones and in some ways we know more about them than we do about his gold and silver plate because of their depiction in royal portraits. But the term ‘jewel’ did not only apply to items of adornment. The finest plate was often set with gems and two of the four surviving pieces of goldsmith’s work known to have belonged to the king – the clock salt in the Goldsmiths’ Company Collection and a mounted rock-crystal bowl in Munich – are exactly what would have been described at the time as ‘jewels’.
AGM followed by
Jewellery and power in Iron Age Kazakhstan
During the 1st millennium BCE, the Saka-Scythians of East Kazakhstan built monumental burial mounds on the grassy expanse of the steppe. In these mounds they buried elite members of their society with thousands of gold adornments. From microscopic beads to weighty torcs, the largely nomadic Saka expressed wealth and power through adorning their bodies and those of their horses, who often died with them. Power and status, however, are determined by the living. This talk will draw on material from the ‘Gold of the Great Steppe’ exhibition at the Fitzwilliam Museum (opening September 2021) to explore the clues to Saka social, cultural, and economic life as expressed through their jewellery.
Setting the record straight
This talk will cover changing ways in which gemstones were set in jewellery from the earliest times until the end of the Renaissance. These changes reflected aesthetic preferences, of course, but more particularly, advances in gem cutting technology. There was also fluctuating access to different gem types as trading patterns changed. When seen in this light, the history of gem-setting can be understood as a key part of jewellery and gem history, underlining that jewellery history must be seen holistically, a happy blend of art and technology.
Creative Clasps? The story of prehistoric brooches in Britain
Brooches first appear in Britain almost 2,500 years ago in the Iron Age. Their design, and the materials from which they are made, highlight oscillating relationships across the Channel and further afield. Theirs is a story of bronze, iron, glass and coral; a story of creativity and connections. In this presentation I will focus upon the craft of the brooches and the contexts in which they are found. By examining the detail of these small artefacts, we can explore the relationships between makers, wearers, the natural world and the archaeological story of pre-Roman Britain.
Links to previous Lecture Programmes