Wednesday, October 22, 2008

‘What’s Happened to my Drive?’ (September the 28th at Bodkin Hall)

It was my birthday on Sunday the 28th of September. Most people on their birthday are content to sit in their rocking chair with a tumbler of Jack Daniels in one hand, a fat cigar in the other, and their feet up on the cat. (Well…that’s how my grandmother used to spend her birthdays at any rate.) Not me, though! I’m a consummate professional (i.e. a professional who consumes a lot) so I was up bright and early as always and off to Bodkin Hall, burying rare artefacts borrowed from the museum for people to accidentally discover later on and generally archaeologing.
And because it was my birthday I also allowed some of my millions of fans the once yearly privilege of taking my photograph. (Actually, that’s not true. The photograph below was taken by Dave Hammond the week before, but because he was going to be away on the 28th I was lenient with him.)

Before anybody starts, it’s a trenchcoat! We dig trenches. Therefore I wear a trenchcoat! It’s also got a lot pockets, which come in handy for stuff like chalk, tape measures, pencils, cigarettes, set squares, compasses, trowels, half eaten butties that still have enough filling left not to be thrown in a trench, etc.
Now, I’m not going to bore everyone solid with stratigraphic layers and stuff this week. Instead, I thought we’d take a look at some of the various bits and pieces (or ‘small finds’ as we in archaeological circles call them) that were unearthed throughout the day.

The first is the larger-than-average clay pipe stem shown in the scan below:

This one took us by surprise. The pipe stem at the bottom is big enough in its own right, being, most probably, one of the thicker variety made during the mid-to-late eighteenth centuries. The one at the top though looked as though it had elephantitus. A bit of research was required and here’s what we discovered at http://www.dawnmist.demon.co.uk/cadger.htm:

“They are called "Cadger" "Advertique" or "Novelty" pipes and were mainly made in England, France, Germany and Holland by a number of successful makers. Often these large pipes would be used as a display piece in the shop window of merchants selling tobacco related products. They were also bought and used by various smoking social clubs who would pass the pipe around the group (use in initiation ceremonies by some groups is also true).”


So now you know. One of the previous owners of Bodkin Hall was obviously a novelty clay pipe fancier and, quite possibly, a leading light in the Pilling Clay Pipe Smokers Society. (Bet they’d have problems at their meetings nowadays with the new ‘anti-smoking’ laws.)

The second object, or rather two objects, are illustrated in the scan below:

Incidentally, the plastic tie didn’t come with it. The whole paddle was starting to split down the middle, so we thought that we’d better conserve it before it went the same way as the wooden spherical object that came up by its side.
Any thoughts on what it might be yet? Well, leaving aside the somewhat fanciful notions of butter pats (they were more rectangular and grooved) and Neolithic hand mirrors (wrong millennia and not shiny enough really) it probably is exactly what it appears to be. A crudely made, child’s bat and ball. Obviously the Victorian/Edwardian owners of Bodkin Hall weren’t exactly loaded…or particularly good at woodwork.

Speaking of which, take a look at these:

We’ve found loads of these little round spheres. What was that? ‘Balls’? No, honestly, it’s true. As you can probably see from the numbers alongside them, they’ve been coming up in droves. They all measure between two centimetres and four centimetres in size, and there’s just too many of them to be coincidental.
We’ve had battery balls (whatever they were), perfectly round stones, glass bottle stoppers, even a musket ball.

Our conclusion is that, along with the homemade bat and ball, whatever child lived at Bodkin Hall during the Victorian/Edwardian period also had his own homemade marble set. It’s even possible that he was storing them in the thousands of broken Hartley’s marmalade jars we’ve been digging up.

All of which just goes to show that, regardless of the average aged Pilling resident’s insistence to the contrary, an Edwardian childhood in rural Wyre wasn’t necessarily as glamorous as legend has it.

Now I’m off for a game of Final Fantasy on my Nintendo DS.

21 comments:

RVB said...

It was my birthday on Sunday the 28th of September.

Happy Birthday. One step closer to claiming your pension prim and proper!

It’s also got a lot pockets, which come in handy

Or as the 4th Doctor said: "That's the good thing about being a bohemian; lots of pockets."

Now I’m off for a game of Final Fantasy on my Nintendo DS.

The adage 'some never grow old' is high applicable, I sense.

Jayne said...

Those marbles rang a (bicycle) bell with me and I found this article which may or may not make the picture muddier-
marble ball bearings for bikes

Brian Hughes said...

Reuben,

Playing computer games in my way of taking time off from being the grumpy old sod that I've been since I was three years old.

Jayne,

I always wondered how they manufactured golf balls back in the Neolithic period.

RVB said...

Mentally picturing you as a teenager is something that not even a great mathematician as myself can do.

*Awaits calls for me to tone down my ego*

Brian Hughes said...

Reuben,

Mentally picturing me as a teenager is something you seriously don't want to do. It's been the cause of many nightmares for unsuspecting victims over the centuries.

Jayne said...

I thought you skipped the teen years and headed straight for middle age when you were 12, Brian.

Dad said he has memories of his grandfather having a small collection of marbles in his forge/workshop which my Dad was strictly forbidden from playing with as they were spare parts. Spoil sport!

Brian Hughes said...

Jayne,

I don't care what you say, these aren't your granddad's marbles, so you're not 'having them back'! Come to that matter, they're not my marbles either. Nobody's seen them around for decades.

Jayne said...

Bugger!
I was hoping to win a few more Tom Bowlers.

Brian Hughes said...

Jayne,

Win a few more tombolas? Are you starting a collection of them?

Ann O'Dyne said...

awww Happy Birthday Digger.

(going away now to check
'On This Day' website to see if they mention you)

Bwca said...

ptember 28 is the birthdate of Sylvia Kristel, Brigitte Bardot and
551 B.C. - Teacher and philosopher Confucius was born. He dedicated most of his life to teaching, starting at the age of 22 when he opened his first school.
plus:
1066 - England was invaded by William the Conqueror who claimed the English throne.

Brian Hughes said...

Annie,

The Battle of Hastings actually took place on October the 14th 1066, which would have been 944 years ago last week sometime...if I've worked that out correctly...which I probably haven't. I know that her out of Grease...Oliva Neutron Bomb or whatever she was called...was born on the 28th of September though. It's not something I'm proud of that...but we all have to live with these burdens.


Not something I'm

Brian Hughes said...

Interesting...there seems to be a faint echo in my last comments' box.

RVB said...

Maybe it's that anonymous American hacking you to pieces, Brian.

Brian Hughes said...

'Trying' to hack me to pieces, Reuben...it'll take a considerably less moronic personality that he/she's got to make any dents on my hoary old skin.

RVB said...

I struggled with him, actually. I'm not built to withstand such inanity.

Brian Hughes said...

It was the verbal dexterity, profound insights into cultural memes, sophisticated sociological understanding and intelligent repostes that I found most disturbing about him, Reuben, and the fact that he didn't appear to possess any them whatsoever.

RVB said...

Indeed...but we should keep our eyes peeled. He may return (presumably after an unsuccessful job-hunt).

Brian Hughes said...

Or when his mum lets him back on her computer unsuspervised.

RVB said...

...if by 'mum', you mean white-clad Orderlies...

Brian Hughes said...

...with cattle prods...

Actually I meant the bloke in the black dress with his little manual of instructions.