Lindow Manchester

Lindow Man Preparations for Opening
April 16, 2008, 9:07
Filed under: Lindow Man Exhibition

Only one day to go before the special preview before our formal opening and it’s all go. I spent most of the morning in the Media Support Unit getting some images from Christine Pemberton and Matthew Hyde’s Lindow and the Bog Warriors printed off. The museum volunteers are going to work with an  album containing these photographs. Last week we did some training with the volunteers and they were asking loads of interested but difficult to answer questions. I covered the ‘life and times’ of Lindow Man and early this week we looked at the objects they are going to present to  the public.

This afternoon I helped Pete Brown fill the ‘Find out More’ files with Lindow Man related articles and newspaper cuttings. We are putting very short labels in the exhibition itself but more detailed information will be available for those who want it in the files. Nobody wants to see a “book on the wall” but with only 25-30 words per label how can we convey the complexity, the nuances of what is known about Lindow Man? Well we put it in the ring binders and there’s a large print version for visually impaired visitors.

Tomorrow one of the last jobs will be to print off our extended labels. In some ways this has been the most interesting part of the exhibition. Free of the restrictions of word totals I can give free rein to whimsy, happily including information about mirrors, such as the fine example from Aston, Herts., kindly lent to us by the British Museum, and a quote from Cold Mountain. In this novel set in the American Civil War, Nicole Kidman’s character, Ada Monroe, leans over a well and looks at the surface of the water reflected in her  mirror in the hope of seeing the future. Though she doesn’t understand it at the time she sees her lover walking towards her in the snow fatally wounded. What’s that to do with Lindow Man and the Iron Age? The decoration on Iron Age mirrors, such as  the example from Aston, evokes artistically the visual confusion  felt by Ada trying to make sense of her vision in the well.

The subject of mirrors is fascinating and would make an exhibition in its own right. In antiquity there is the myth of Perseus and the Gorgon, and Narcissus fell in love with his own image in a pool of water. On the island of Rapa Nui or Easter Island a petroglyph thought to represent the god Makemake features a large taheta or worked basin with rows of tiny cupules or small depressions around the rim. When filled with water, such as rain water, they become reflective pools and priests would stare into them, seeing the reflections of the stars. From that, they would make predictions for coming events (pers.comm. Georgia Lee,  but there is a published reference in Colin Richards and Bryan Sitch, 2014,  Making Monuments on Rapa Nui The Statues for Easter Island, Manchester Museum). Also in fiction, there is also the mirror of Galadriel in The Lord of the Rings. 

People in the Iron Age had a special reverence for water, often making votive deposits of metalwork or other objects or people to the deities of the place. Jody Joy, formerly of the British Museum, did his doctorate thesis on Iron Age mirrors, and has spoken about the associations that water, and the creatures that live in wetland environments, may have had for native Britons. Areas of open water such as would have existed at Lindow Moss would have reflected light like a mirror and represented a means of communication with another world if not the afterlife, in the same way Ada’s mirror offers glimpses of the future. For more on mirrors see Sabine Melchior-Bonnet The Mirror A History (2002, Routledge). I really ought do this as a talk in our public events programme…


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