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Dusty Deeds & Docs Blog

Random musings on curiosities encountered in archives and beyond,
not forgetting the dust …


Open, locks, Whoever knocks

The 7th of August in the year 1606 saw the first recorded performance of Macbeth, in the Great Hall at Hampton Court. Shakespeare’s addition of three witches into the historical brew was tailored to grab the interest of the evening’s host, King James VI & I, himself an author with a well-known interest in the… Read more »

Through the Looking Glass

Although I carry out most of my research in the Map and Large Document Reading Room at The National Archives, the most precious and sensitive items in its extensive collection have to be viewed under supervision in the Invigilation Room on the floor below – a much less daunting process than it sounds. A member… Read more »

The Longest Day

When I think of Midsummer, images of bonfires and solstice celebrations spring to mind, followed by the symbolic Mediæval custom of paying a red rose “in the time of roses” on Quarter Day, but today I am remembering a less uplifting event, following on from cannon-fire and the red of blood – the Surrender of the… Read more »

Inky Fingers, part 2

Inky Fingers, part 2 – read part 1 here Middle English Dictionaries confirm that context should provide the key to filling in the measure, which in this case must logically be a weight. Shifting to a microfilm reader in the Map and Large Document Reading Room at The National Archives, I transcribed a second recipe,… Read more »

Inky Fingers, part 1

29 May being Oak Apple Day – the anniversary of the Restoration of King Charles II, honouring the ‘Royal Oak’ at Boscobel House which shielded him from Cromwell’s men after the Battle of Worcester – it feels appropriate to spare a thought for the humble oak apple, which plays such a large part in my… Read more »