Jan 2016 — We are not Great Danes

This year, January is brought to you by the letter A.

I begin by confessing that TLG and I were appalling at Danishness this month. On the morning after Twelfth Night, I was surprised to see Christmas trees outside our house (see photo). Look carefully and you will see that one of these Christmas trees is not like the others. One of these trees is still upright and, if you look really closely, you will see that it still has Christmas lights on it. Yes, the one on OUR balcony. All the other Christmas trees are stripped bare, neatly laid out and ready for recycling. Here is a clear indication that it is Not Christmas Anymore. The Danes have moved on and we (the foreigners) are Not Keeping Up. There was a notice, which I read, but unlike our neighbours, we failed to take action. We will do better next year.

One of these trees is not like the others

The big achievement of the month was the aspirational expertise of our ATOMS lecturers. We hit the ground running on Monday 4 January with Luise Ørsted Brandt’s overview of the work she has done with the archaeological remains of sheep — bones, skin and wool — and how the role of sheep for meat, milk and wool can be investigated in different ways. We visited the Danish Technical University on Monday 25 January to learn about tomography from Carsten Grundlach and optical scanning from Anders Dahl. Participants are coming from London and Paris as well as other parts of Denmark and from Sweden. The programme is hitting the spot with conservators and software imagineers as well as archaeologists and historians.

Advance planning has been my main administrative task this month. I have set up field work appointments in Manchester and Leiden (March), at the Museum of London (April) and the V&A (May). These will be visits to old friends as I have examined all these caps before. I do have a list of characteristics and measurements to check as the importance of some information has emerged since as I’ve seen more examples.

Appointments in Warminster and Leicester (March) and Toronto (July) will acquaint me with new caps. Alexandra Kim kindly told me about the Warminster cap when KEME was announced last October. I’ve known about the Leicester caps since Alison Milton told me about them some years back. Ages ago, Rachel Frost sent me an article written by Joan Thirsk in 1990 which had an old picture of the Ontario cap (see photo). I am always really grateful when people tell me about c16th caps. Lots of contacts assume I know about them all but I don’t. This very week, Pat Poppy shared a link to a cap I did not know about. So keep ’em coming. I’m up to 103 potential c16th knitted caps now.

The Ontario cap

My penultimate A word is assistance. I have made arrangements for a collaborator to accompany me on each of my visits to the caps. I need someone to help with photography but I’m also keen to facilitate access to the original materials for people who do not usually have the chance to see them and whose insights will help me interpret what I’m seeing. Feel free to contact me if you are a KEME collaborator who lives near or can travel to one of my appointments. This is my appeal for aid.

Snow dogs!

My final A word is not a good one. One of the wonders of Copenhagen is that the ocean freezes. On Sunday 17 January, after a snowstorm, it was gloriously sunny and TLG, The Terrible Terriers (see photo above) and I set off for a run along the beach (see photo below). It was quite beautiful to see the snow on top of the ice on top of the sea and the amazing crystal patterns that form around stones in the water. So entranced was I by these views that I failed to notice a glassy patch of ice and I slipped on it twisting my ankle very badly. My accident occasioned a visit to the Akutklinik. The good news is going to A&E in Copenhagen is a pleasant and agreeable experience even when suffering and feeling anxious. TLG and I had no idea how the system worked. If we’d called ahead we could have arranged an appointment and reduced our waiting time for which the staff apologised. I walked (well, hobbled) straight up to a reception nurse who was all smiles. I waited less than 30 minutes for my first chat with a doctor, less than 20 minutes for an x-ray and less than 10 minutes for a diagnosis and a big bandage. Even more amazing is that our local A&E is about half a mile away. Denmark = Pay taxes = Get services = Love it. Even the Christmas tree recycling is efficient and free (if you do what the notice tells you) …

The beautiful yet perilous snow-covered beach at Amager
A single golf clap? Or a long standing ovation?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.