Friday 11 September 2020


A young friend of mine was apprenticed to a saddler and spent several years stuffing saddles with straw and sewing hames with a bodkin. Hames is a draw-horse collar . . . and also a peculiarity of Hiberno-Ingles to mean a hash or mess. That usage is one of the cultural artifacts my father acquired from growing up in Waterford and passed on to me. I'll bet our saddler knows what a terret is. Indeed if she'd gone on to work as an archaeologist rather than a paramedic and ambulance driver, she'd have been able to call this

like it is. Without her, it fell to Kate "Misty" Sumnall [above], the London archaeologist, to identify the purpose of this bronze donut-with-trimmings. Indeed there were a pair of terrets flagged as part of a 45kg hoard of mostly bronze artefacts discovered in Havering at the end of last year:

The ghostly Hand of Sumnall appearing to give a sense of scale. Terrets come in pairs because they serve as rein-guides to stop horse-harness getting tangled. Like the Spandrels of San Marco, the functional core was often embellished with decoration, owner's marks and, much later, even jingle bells.
There will now be a short intermission while we watch Charlton Heston manage 4 [four!] pairs of terrets - what a guy, pity about the NRA and dementia. That 45kg consisted 453 artifacts: axes, bracelets, chisels, ingots, knives, razors, sickles, swords and . . . terrets. One of the theories about the history of the Havering Hoard is that these beautiful and functional tools were dumped around 900 BCE because they were so yesterday; the Iron Age was the thing to be part of. Iron is tougher but 3000 years later there would have been literally nothing to see here but a rust red pan of iron oxide.  And now that we all know what a terret is and could recognise one if it jumped up and bit us . . . no no no, dolt, TERRET, not terrier . . . we can go on with the day that's in it.

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