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WAYSIDE ART IN EAST ANGLIA

PEOPLE

ANCIENT PEOPLES

This pillar,one of a pair, sits above Norwich Market in front of City Hall.  Egyptian-style bas-reliefs adorn its surface.

The village sign at Quidenham n Norfolk depicts Boudicca who was queen of the Iceni Celts.  She is riding her two-horse chariot.  When the Romans assaulted Boudicca and her family, she took her revenge by slaughtering the Romans at Colchester, St. Albans and London.  She was chosen as a subject for the sign because a rumour persists that she lived nearby and was buried in a mound not far from Quidenham Church.  The sign was designed by Mrs. MacNamara and is made of painted metal.

Here we have a Roman centaurian carved in oak and painted on a village sign at Anmer in Norfolk.  A local tradition says that the Romans fought Queen Boudicca in the vicinity of the village.  Anmer is on the Sandringham royal estate and the sign was a gift to the Queen from the Royal Boy Scout’s Association.  On top of the sign is the royal coat of arms.  The sign was painted by Harry Carter of Swaffham.  He taught art and woodwork at Hamond’s Grammar School in Swaffham and he was the nephew of the Eygptologist, Howard Carter, famous for his association with Tutankhamen’s tomb.

The Anglo-Saxons

 

When mercenaries from northern Europe came to England after the Romans had left to help the Romano-British defend England against attacking invaders such as the Picts, many of their relatives and descendants settled in East Anglia.  Among these settlers were Angles and Saxons, known collectively as Anglo-Saxons.  A great number of our villages where they settled are named after them.  Saxlingham is one of them.  Another example is Framlingham, which is named after a Saxon called Framela, ‘Ing’ referring to his family, and ‘ham’ referring to his place of residence.  So Framlingham means ‘The home of the family of Framela’.

The village sign at Saxlingham in Norfolk is made of natural oak.  On it is carved the full-length figure of a Saxon who founded the village in 832 AD.  His name was either Seaxel, Seaxhelm or something similar.  The sign was a gift from Mrs Campbell Steward who lived at the Old Hall in the village from 1914.  The carving was done by a sculptor who carved his initials and date on the back, which reads ‘D.J.D. 1968.’

The village sign at Somerleyton in Suffolk shows a Viking in fighting mode with his boat behind.  The Vikings from Norway arrived in the area in the ninth century, having sailed up the River Waveney.  The sign was designed by Mrs Steward of Lowestoft and was made by S.C. Pearce and Sons of Bredfield.  It was erected in 1949 by Lord and Lady Somerleyton to mark their Silver Wedding Anniversary.

This is the head of a Saracen.  It is carved on the outside of the seventeenth-century Saracen’s Head Hotel in Diss, Norfolk.  A Saracen was an Arab or Muslim at the time of the Crusades.

The village sign at Necton in Norfolk depicts a Saxon warrior.  The name of the village is Saxon in origin and means ‘a homestead by a neck of land.’

The Normans

 

The Normans arrived in England towards the end of the eleventh century. When their leader, William, defeated King Harold at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 he became King.  The story of the events leading to the Norman conquest is told in the famous Bayeux Tapestry.  This very long embroidery (tapestry is a misnomen) has inspired a recent mosaic that has been laid on the ground at the Riverside development in Norwich.  It is situated near the footbridge that crosses the River Wensusm.  The subject matter of the mosaic is the legacy that the Normans left behind in Norwich by their stone building programme.  As the words above the mosaic tell us ‘The Normans sailed up the Wensum with stone to build Norwich Castle and Cathedral’.  For pictures of the mosaic and more information go to http://www.thejoyofshards.co.uk/mosaicsorguk/norwich/norma n.shtml

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ON ANGELS

A stone replica of a Roman coin on the wall of a road underpass in Colchester in Essex.

This stone carving represents Eudo, a Norman, who was a steward of king William I.  He was involved in setting up monastic orders and apparently was responsible for the building of Colchester Castle.  He stands in a niche on the front facade of Colchester Town Hall with helmet, shield and sword. The sword points downward as a sign, not of battle, but of Christianity.  The building to which he’s attached was built in 1898, was designed by Sir John Belcher, and is Grade I listed.

Recent archeological evidence in reference to Quidenham suggests that a location known as ‘Viking’s Mound’ is not that of an iron age burial, but the remains of what was once a Norman motte and bailey castle, probably built by the d’Albini family.