We made our own Medieval Art

We’re back in the field, but the archaeology doesn’t stop in the trenches. This month we did something extra special to celebrate some of the amazing archaeology we found at Bishop Middleham Castle. Get your pens, grab some paints, and don’t forget the paper! DigVentures is heading into the world of art…

In 1075 County Durham was the last hope of protection for King William I. Better known by his nickname, William the Conqueror, this was a man who did everything in his power to live up to that title. Including laying waste to the north of England to secure his new throne. Not his best idea, considering it left England vulnerable to attacks from Scotland!

William realized his mistake, admittedly, and decided something needed to be done to secure his borders. And so, the Prince Bishops were born! He took the Bishop of Durham, and gave him secular powers. Raising taxes, minting coins, building armies, the bishop now had access to some fancy new things that made him the second most powerful man in England.

Of course, when you’re a medieval Prince Bishop with all your newfound money and fame, one of the first things you want to do is make sure everybody knows it. So, they build some special houses called bishop’s palaces. These are by no means reserved for the Prince Bishop, there’s actually about three hundred in England and Wales. But eighteen of those are in County Durham, and one of those eighteen really caught our attention…

And so, we did what archaeologists do best, and opened some trenches! The team have just finished up six weeks of digging at Bishop Middleham. They uncovered all sorts of wonderful things from walls to cufflinks – and even a possible medieval loo! But all these finds got us thinking: what did this palace really look like?

You’ve got this huge building, with all it’s fancy gothic architecture, and inside it you’d find something really special: art! The idea of all this medieval art, with its bold colours and patterns, really caught our attention. So, we teamed up with the amazing Aaron Jacob Jones and made some for ourselves.

A huge thank you to everyone who came along and made our workshops so special! You can find some of their amazing art below, check it out for yourself! Who knows? Maybe you’ll be inspired to create some of your own…

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Georgina Cole

Written by Georgina Cole

Ginny is a Community Archaeologist with DigVentures and recent Durham University graduate. She has a passion for speaking to the public and she especially loves British archaeology and forensics. In keeping with archaeological tradition, when she isn’t in the trenches you can often find her grabbing a pint at the local pub!

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