Scenes from the British Museum

Earls Court  bicyclesOut into the rain this morning on my way to the British Museum to see the Vikings,  I walked down Earls Court Gardens and spotted sets of bicycles chained artistically to the railings. I guess there’s nowhere else to store them.

After fairly mundane ride on the Picadilly Line, I arrived at the British Museum, Montague Place entrance. (I’m  Friend so get free entrance, cloakroom, etc.)

British MuseumThe route to the Viking Exhibition was barred on ‘elf and safety grounds – one of the shutters had partly descended (very uncomfortable). I asked myself what Ragnar the Viking would have done, but we obeyed, more in the vein of Noggin the Nog. However, a jolly museum attendant guided us back to the Sainsbury Gallery off the Great Court and I began a fascinating tour.

Viking tea-towelSadly, photography wasn’t allowed as the lending institutions guarded their intellectual copyright, a room steward explained, so you’ll have to make do with the tea towel I bought. The most impressive big thing was the longship and the best small things were pieces from the Lewis chess set. Read more here.

Lovely sandwich lunch plus chocolate brownie (Oh, sinfulness!) and a chat with stone carver Simon Keeley. Here’s some of his beautiful work. Then on to the (guess what) Romans. Now you can’t sensibly ‘do’ the Romans at the BM. My targets were Etruscans, the shrine of Diana Nemorensis and the translation from late Roman (when my Roma Nova stories start) to early Middle Ages. I’ll be putting some of these pictures online in the next few weeks, but here’s a taster.

Etruscan gold bracelets


Gold Etruscan bracelets with embossed female heads.palmettes and the figure of Eros 300-200BC


Lycurgus Cup


The Lycurgus Cup, Late Roman Empire, AD 300s. This very rare cage cup’s glass contains tiny amounts of gold abad silver which cause it to turn from opaque green to translucent red when light is shone through it. The gilded silver rim and foot were probably added in the 1700s.


Morton HotelOn the way back, I couldn’t help noticing this interestingly named hotel. Am I  staying in the wrong place?

And just when you thought nothing was relevant to the book fair, I can report that publishing director Helen Hart and fellow SilverWood Books author Sandy Osborne  have arrived. I bumped into them in the hotel lobby as I arrived back., footsore and gasping for tea. Tomorrow, we start in earnest (whoever he is).



Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers, INCEPTIO, and PERFIDITAS. Third in series, SUCCESSIO, is now out.

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