` The Terrorism Act 2006 ‘

#AceBritishHistory – The Terrorism Act 2006 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that received Royal Assent on 30 March 2006, after being introduced on 12 October 2005.

People observing a two-minute silence in Trafa...

People observing a two-minute silence in Trafalgar Square on the evening of 14 July 2005 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Act creates new offences related to terrorism, and amends existing ones. The Act was drafted in the aftermath of the 7 July 2005 London bombings, and some of its terms have proven to be highly controversial.

The government considers the Act a necessary response to an unparalleled terrorist threat; it has encountered opposition from those who feel that it is an undue imposition on civil liberties, and could increase the terrorism risk.

The Act has drawn considerable media attention, not least because one of the key votes resulted in the first defeat of the government of Tony Blair on the floor of the House of Commons, and the worst such defeat for any government since 1978.

Home Secretary’s Letter

On 15 July, shortly after the London bombings, the Home Secretary Charles Clarke wrote to the spokesmen for the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, David Davis and Mark Oaten respectively, to ask their views on proposed terrorism legislation, in an attempt to seek consensus. His letter made it clear that the proposals were already under consideration before the bombings. It first proposed new criminal offences to allow police and intelligence agencies to intervene before the precise details of a planned terrorist act are known.

The second proposal was to criminalise indirect incitement to commit terrorist acts, and would enable the United Kingdom to ratify the Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism (Article 5). The third proposal was to criminalise the providing or receiving of terrorism training, again in line with the Council of Europe Convention (Article 7). Clarke followed up this letter with a statement in the House of Commons on 20 July.

Ambulances at Russell Square, London after the...

Ambulances at Russell Square, London after the 7th July bombings (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Prime Minister’s Statement

On 5 August, Tony Blair made a statement at his regular monthly news conference which included a mention of the proposed legislation. He said:

“… there will be new anti-terrorism legislation in the Autumn. This will include an offence of condoning or glorifying terrorism. The sort of remarks made in recent days should be covered by such laws. But this will also be applied to justifying or glorifying terrorism anywhere, not just in the United Kingdom.”
The statement “the sort of remarks made in recent days” was generally taken as a reference to Omar Bakri Muhammad who had received a great deal of publicity for his reaction to the London bombing. There had been other statements, made by a number of controversial figures, about the 11 September 2001 attacks and attacks on US and UK forces during the Iraqi insurgency. These figures also include Muslim clerics such as Abu Qutada and Abu Hamza al-Masri.

Locations of the bombings on a Central London ...

Locations of the bombings on a Central London tube map (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Home Secretary’s Second Letter 

On 15 September, Clarke published draft clauses of the intended bill in a further letter to David Davis and Mark Oaten, writing that he would like their comments on them. He also announced further proposals for the bill, including a power to proscribe groups that glorify terrorism, and one to tackle dissemination of “radical written material by extremist bookshops”.

The draft clause 2 would make it illegal to publish a statement which “glorifies, exalts or celebrates the commission, preparation or instigation (whether in the past, in the future or generally) of acts of terrorism”. This wording was criticised for being vague, and for potentially stifling legitimate debate about government policy and the causes of terrorism. The clause only covered terrorist events which occurred more than 20 years ago if they directly relate to current events; a list of events occurring more than 20 years ago which would be covered was to be prepared by the Home Office. This provision was criticised as entirely subjective, and giving the Home Office the right to decide who was a terrorist and who was a freedom fighter.

Part 1 – Offences 

This Part creates a series of new criminal offences intended to assist the police in tackling terrorism. They are:

  • Encouragement of terrorism (section 1): Prohibits the publishing of “a statement that is likely to be understood by some or all of the members of the public to whom it is published as a direct or indirect encouragement or other inducement to them to the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism or Convention offences.” Indirect encouragement statements include every statement which glorifies the commission or preparation (whether in the past, in the future or generally) of such acts or offences; and is a statement from which those members of the public could reasonably be expected to infer that what is being glorified is being glorified as conduct that should be emulated by them in existing circumstances.”[3] In England and Wales, a person guilty of this offence is liable, on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding seven years, or to a fine, or to both, or, on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding twelve months, or to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum, or to both. In Scotland and Northern Ireland, a person guilty of this offence is liable, on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding seven years, or to a fine, or to both, or, on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, or to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum, or to both.
  • Disseminating terrorist publications (Section 2): Prohibits the dissemination of a publication which is either (a) likely to be understood as directly or indirectly encouraging terrorism, or (b) includes information which is likely to be understood as being useful in the commission or preparation of an act of terrorism. The maximum penalty is seven years’ imprisonment.
  • Preparation of terrorist acts (Section 5): Prohibits anyone from engaging in any conduct in preparation for an intended act of terrorism. The maximum penalty is life imprisonment.
  • Training for terrorism (Section 6): Prohibits anyone from training others in terrorist activities, or from receiving training. The maximum penalty is 10 years’ imprisonment.
  • Attendance at a place used for terrorist training (Section 8): Prohibits anyone from being at a place where training is going on (whether in the United Kingdom or abroad), provided the person knew or reasonably believed that it was happening. The maximum penalty is 10 years’ imprisonment.
  • Making and possession of devices or materials (Section 9): Prohibits the making or possession of any radioactive device (i.e. a dirty bomb). The maximum penalty is life imprisonment.
  • Misuse of devices or material and misuse and damage of facilities (Section 10): Prohibits using radioactive materials or a radioactive device in a terrorist attack, and the sabotage of nuclear facilities which causes a radioactive leak. The maximum penalty is life imprisonment.
  • Terrorist threats relating to devices, materials or facilities (Section 11): Prohibits anyone from making threats to demand that they be given radioactive materials. The maximum penalty is life imprisonment.
  • Trespassing etc. on nuclear sites (Section 12): Extends a previous ban on trespassing, imposed by the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005, to cover any nuclear site.

The encouragement, training, and preparation offences are extraterritorial offences. So persons who engage in any of these activities outside the United Kingdom, commit an offence which is triable before the United Kingdom courts. The Act also extends the maximum length of imprisonment for ‘possession for terrorist purposes’ from 10 years to 15 years, and for threatening to damage a nuclear power station to life imprisonment. The proposal that only those who intended to incite terror could be prosecuted was defeated by two votes in the House of Commons (300-298) – this was reported at the time as 300-299, but the clerks of the house confirmed the list of Aye names (of which there are 298) to be accurate.[4] It has been pointed out that the Government’s resistance to the inclusion of the requirement of intention is somewhat two-faced, given that the reason offered for creating the offence was the need to comply with Article 5 of theCouncil of Europe Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism which expressly requires specific intent.[5]

Part 2 – Miscellaneous provisions 

This Part deals with miscellaneous provisions. It gives wider power to the Home Secretary to proscribe terrorist groups and amends the law to allow the proscription to continue when the group changes its name. The most controversial portion in the Act, relating to detention of terrorist suspects for questioning, was in sections 23 and 24. However, as originally introduced, the clauses made little change beyond allowing Police officers of the rank of Superintendent to authorise longer detention for terrorist suspects.

Other provisions in Part 2 give greater flexibility to search warrants by allowing them to cover other premises under the control of the same suspect, and by allowing searches where the possession of terrorist publications is suspected. The powers of the Intelligence services are extended and warrants to intercept communications are given more wide-ranging effect.

Section 25 – Expiry or renewal of extended maximum detention period 

The following orders have been made under section 25(2):



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“Lindisfarne Gospels”

#AceHistoryNews says the story of the “Lindisfarne Gospels” are part of our very fabric of Britain, this is how they came into being.    


The Lindisfarne Gospels, British Library

An Eight Century monk’s artistic legacy is one of Britain’s greatest literary and religious treasures.

The Lindisfarne Gospels were produced more than 1300 years ago at the monastery of Lindisfarne on the Northumbrian coast. The single volume manuscript consists of 500 pages of beautiful calligraphy and decorative symbols. An Anglo-Saxon translation of the Latin text was added two centuries later and is the earliest known English version of the gospels. The book survived the centuries in spectacular condition and is now held by the British Library.

Dr Michelle Brown, curator of illuminated manuscripts for the British Library, has researched the origins and craftsmanship of the work. Her findings are shared at an exhibition called Painted Labyrinth – the World of the Lindisfarne Gospels. The original manuscript is the centrepiece of the free event alongside an exact duplicate which visitors will be able to handle.

Dr Brown said: “The gospels hold a timeless universal appeal. It was made in an era of immense multiculturalism in England and the imagery is a mix of Roman British, Irish, Germanic, Mediterranean and even Middle Eastern influences. This was a deliberate attempt to include all aspects of society and faith resulting in a breathtaking piece of art.”


The central text is the Christian gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John with prefaces by Saint Jerome. Dr Brown said: “The Lindisfarne Gospels were made in memory of Saint Cuthbert who lived near the abbey and was Bishop of Lindisfarne for a time. He was canonised soon after his death in 687. The work was probably carried out from 715 to 720. The book was clearly made by one skilled artist unlike many medieval manuscripts which were made by a team of scholars.”

Bishop Eadfrith, leader of the monastery from 698 to 721, is credited as the creator of the work. Dr Brown said: “The monastery was responsible for the spiritual welfare of people living across the north of England and southern Scotland up to Edinburgh. Eadfrith administered this social service. He also attended church eight times every day as part of his duties. It is amazing he was able to dedicate time to the production of the Gospels.”

Eadfrith was inventive and came up with modern solutions to problems he encountered. Dr Brown said: “We now understand the process used to generate the lavish pages. Each piece of vellum covered two pages, for example a spread of pages two and seven, which when folded and bound together created the book. The elaborate designs took up more space than the text in the Naples gospels he was copying from so it was a complex task to visualise the end design at the early stages. Eadfrith created test sheets using his own costly vellum to solve the problem. First he drew out his designs on one piece of vellum. Then he placed another piece over the top and carefully copied the markings. He rubbed the vellum in order to transfer the ‘pencil’ drawings onto the back of the sheet, as a reversed design.”

Images from the British Library


Dr Brown continued: “He then turned the sheet over and painted on the other side from the drawings, using candles to backlight, like a modern light box. This ensured his detailed drawings were not obscured by the first layers of pigment and could be followed and consulted throughout the painting process. He worked on the front of the second piece using a candle as a backlight. The finished work has no preparation markings on the painted side because the layout is all on the back.”

Research also shows Eadfrith adapted and expanded on existing artistic practice. Dr Brown said: “Pigment analysis reveals the gospels have 108 distinct shades. This is in an era when just three colours were generally used for work of this type. Eadfrith used a palette of six base colours made from locally available substances from which he expanded his range. We also believe Eadfrith may have been the inventor of the pencil. The traditional method of marking a design was to score the page using bone, it was difficult to read and paint was often trapped in the indentations. Eadfrith used a metal point with a lead graphite element so the grooves were not as deep. This is about 400 years before any other recorded use of a pencil.”

The exhibition features the different production styles used on the manuscript. It also looks at how the book has been passed down through the ages. Dr Brown said: “The Lindisfarne monks fled in 875 to escape Viking invaders and took the book with them to Chester-Le-Street, near Durham. A priest called Aldred added the Anglo-Saxon translation in about 950. He also made notes about what was known of Eadfrith. The monks and the book moved to Durham in 995 where they stayed until at least the time of Dissolution of the Monasteries. It came into the hands of Sir Robert Cotton in the Seventeenth Century and was part of the collection his heirs bequeathed to the nation.”

Painted Labyrinth – the World of the Lindisfarne Gospels is at the Pearson Gallery, British Library, London


The British Library, 96 Euston Road
London, NW1 2DB


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Snapshot of History:”Lamplighter an Employee of a Town Who Lit Street Lights”

Lamplighter#AceHistoryNews says  lamplighter, historically, was an employee of a town who lit street lights. Lights were lit each evening, generally with a wick on a long-pole. At dawn, they would return to put them out using a small hook on the same pole. Early street lights were generally candles, oil, and similar consumable liquid or solid lighting sources with wicks.

Another lamplighter duty was to carry a ladder and renew the candles, oil, or gas mantles.

In some communities, lamplighters served in a role akin to a town watchman; in others, it may have been seen as little more than a sinecure.

Watchmen were groups of men, usually authorised by a state, government, or society, to deter criminal activity and provide law enforcement. Watchmen have existed in various guises throughout the world and were generally succeeded by the emergence of formerly organised policing.

In the 19th century, gas lights became the dominant form of street lighting. Early gaslights required lamplighters, but eventually systems were developed which allowed the lights to operate automatically.

Gas Street Lighting - information sheet - c1950

Gas Street Lighting – information sheet – c1950 (Photo credit: mikeyashworth)

Gas lighting is production of artificial light from combustion of a gaseous fuel, including hydrogenmethanecarbon monoxidepropanebutaneacetyleneethylene, or natural gas. Before electricity became sufficiently widespread and economical to allow for general public use, gas was the most popular means of lighting in cities and suburbs. Early gas lights had to be lit manually, but later gas lights were self-igniting.

Early lighting fuels consisted of olive oilbeeswaxfish oilwhale oilsesame oil, nut oil, and similar substances. These were the most commonly used fuels until the late 18th century. Chinese records dating back 1700 years note the use of natural gas in the home for light and heat via bamboo pipes to the dwellings.

Public illumination preceded the discovery and adoption of gaslight by centuries. In 1417, Sir Henry BartonMayor of London, ordained “lanterns with lights to be hanged out on the winter evenings between Hallowtide and Candlemasse.” Paris was first  lit by an order issued in 1524, and, in the beginning of the 16th century, the inhabitants were ordered to keep lights burning in the windows of all houses that faced the streets. In 1668, when some regulations were made for improving the streets of London, the residents were reminded to hang out their lanterns at the usual time, and, in 1690, an order was issued to hang out a light, or lamp, every night as soon as it was dark, from Michaelmas to Christmas. By an Act of the Common Council in 1716, all housekeepers, whose houses faced any street, lane, or passage, were required to hang out, every dark night, one or more lights, to burn from six to eleven o’clock, under the penalty of one shilling as a fine for failing to do so.

READ MORE: #History2Research 



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History of the Grand Order of Masons

The Square and Compasses. The symbols employed...

The Square and Compasses. The symbols employed in Co-Freemasonry are mostly identical with those in other orders of Freemasonry. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The earliest official English documents to refer to masons are written in Latin or Norman French. Thus we have “sculptores lapidum liberorum” (London 1212), “magister lathomus liberarum petrarum” (Oxford 1391), and “mestre mason de franche peer” (Statute of Labourers 1351). These all signify a worker in freestone, a grainless sandstone or limestone suitable for ornamental masonry. In the 17th century building accounts of Wadham College the terms freemason and freestone mason are used interchangeably. Freemason also contrasts with “Rough Mason” or “Layer”, as a more skilled worker who worked or laid dressed stone.

The adjective “free” in this context may also be taken to infer that the mason is not enslavedindentured or feudally bound. While this is difficult to reconcile with medieval English masons, it apparently became important to Scottish operative lodges.

Lodge and the Guild: 

The historical record shows two levels of organisation in medieval masonry, the lodge and the “guild”. The original use of the word lodge indicates a workshop erected on the site of a major work, the first mention being Vale Royal Abbey in 1278. Later, it gained the secondary meaning of the community of masons in a particular place. The earliest surviving records of these are the laws and ordinances of the lodge at York Minster in 1352. It should be noted that these regulations were imposed by the Dean and Chapter of the Minster

Earliest Masonic History: 

Anderson's Constitutions, 1723

Anderson’s Constitutions, 1723 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The earliest masonic texts each contain some sort of history of the craft, or mystery, of masonry. The oldest known work of this type, The Halliwell Manuscript, or Regius Poem, dating from between 1390 and 1425, has a brief history in its introduction, stating that the “craft of masonry” began with Euclid in Egypt, and came to England in the reign of King Athelstan.[2] Shortly afterwards, the Cooke Manuscripttraces masonry to Jabal son of Lamech (Genesis 4: 20-22), and tells how this knowledge came to Euclid, from him to the Children of Israel (while they were in Egypt), and so on through an elaborate path to Athelstan. This myth formed the basis for subsequent manuscript constitutions, all tracing masonry back to biblical times, and fixing its institutional establishment in England during the reign of Athelstan (927-939).

Shortly after the formation of the Premier Grand Lodge of EnglandJames Anderson was commissioned to digest these “Gothic Constitutions” in a palatable, modern form. The resulting constitutions are prefaced by a history more extensive than any before, again tracing the history of what was now freemasonry back to biblical roots, again forging Euclid into the chain. True to his material, Anderson fixes the first grand assembly of English Masons at York, under Athelstan’s son, Edwin, who is otherwise unknown to history.Expanded, revised, and republished, Anderson’s 1738 constitutions listed the Grand Masters since Augustine of Canterbury, listed as Austin the MonkWilliam Preston’s Illustrations of Freemasonry enlarged and expanded on this masonic creation myth.

Seal of Premier Grand Lodge of England

Seal of Premier Grand Lodge of England (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In France, the 1737 lecture of Chevalier Ramsay added the crusaders to the lineage. He maintained that Crusader Masons had revived the craft with secrets recovered in the Holy Land, under the patronage of the Knights Hospitaller. At this point, the “history” of the craft in Continental Freemasonry diverged from that in England.

The first record of the degree is in 1769, when Thomas Dunckerley, as Provincial Grand Superintendent, conferred the degrees of Mark Man and Mark Master Mason at a Royal Arch Chapter in Portsmouth.

Following the Union of the Antients and Moderns Grand Lodges and the formation of the United Grand Lodge of England in 1813, the articles of union stated that there would be three Craft degrees only, including the Royal Arch, excluding the Mark degree. For this reason, while in the rest of the world Mark Masonry became attached to Royal Arch chapters, in England it was actually proscribed from the Union until the 1850s. It was a group of Scottish masons who procured an illegal warrant from Bon Accord Chapter in Aberdeen to set up a Mark lodge in London. An attempt to add Mark Masonry to the approved craft workings was defeated in 1856, and a Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons was created in response.

As Freemasonry spread around the globe in the 18th and 19th centuries, Mark Masonry became well established and now has a worldwide presence, with six daughter Grand Lodges and the degree being worked under alternative administrative structures elsewhere. In England, the current Mark Grand Master, HRH Prince Michael of Kent, is the younger brother of the Craft Grand Master, HRH Prince Edward, Duke of Kent.

Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas speculate in their 1996 book The Hiram Key that the construction of the Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland (1440–1490) provided the interface between the Knights Templar and Freemasonry. Accordingly, the first degree and Mark Masonry was introduced by William Sinclair, whom they claim was the first Grand Master and founder of Freemasonry.

Modern Day Freemasonry:

Many twentieth century totalitarian regimes, both Fascist and Communist have treated Freemasonry as a potential source of opposition due to its secret nature and international connections (not to mention its promotion of religious and political tolerance through its symbolism). It has been alleged by Masonic scholars that the language used by the totalitarian regimes is like that used by some modern critics of Freemasonry. 

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The Diary of a Nobody


Diary (Photo credit: toby___)

The Diary of a Nobody is an English comic novel written by the brothers George and Weedon Grossmith. Originally serialised in Punch magazine, it first appeared in book form in 1892. It records daily events in the lives of a London clerk, Charles Pooter, his family and numerous friends and acquaintances; most of its humour derives from Pooter’s unconscious and unwarranted sense of his own importance, and the frequency with which this delusion is punctured by gaffes and minor social humiliations. The daily routines and modest ambitions described in the Diary were recognised by contemporary readers, and provided later generations with glimpses of the past that it became fashionable to imitate. Before their collaboration the brothers had pursued successful stage careers, George as the principal comedian in the Gilbert and Sullivan operas for 12 years; Weedon had earlier trained as an artist and illustrator.

Although the Diary’s initial reception was muted, it grew in popularity and helped to establish a 20th-century genre of humorous popular fiction based on lower or lower-middle class aspirations. It has been the subject of several stage and screen adaptations.


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Gunpowder, Treason and Plot What Happened?

The Gunpowder Plot – what happened?

Every year people across the United Kingdom celebrate Bonfire Night with fireworks and ‘Penny for the Guy’. But why? This is the story of the Gunpowder Plot, written for your students. Courtesy of http://www.parliament.uk/

The Gunpowder Plot - what happened?

The plot

State Opening of Parliament 1604

May 1604. Five men meet in a London pub to discuss killing the King of England. It was Robert Catesby‘s plan that brought five conspirators to the Duck and Drake Inn in May 1604. Catesby was the brains behind the plot against the king. And he gathered a group of like-minded men, including Guy Fawkes, to help him. They knew King James I would be attending an important ceremony in the Houses of Parliament on 5 November 1605. That’s when they would strike.

The gang planned to tunnel beneath the House of Lords chamber, where the king was to attend the State Opening of Parliament. There, the men would plant enough gunpowder to blow up the chamber, and the king along with it.

Why did the plotters want to kill James I?

All the plotters belonged to the Catholic church, and believed they should have more freedom to practise their religion. They also shared an impatience with the rule of King James. When James became the King of England (and Scotland) in 1603, many Catholics were hopeful he would treat them more favourably than the previous monarch, Queen Elizabeth I. Elizabeth had decided that England’s official religion would be Anglican (also called the Church of England), and under her rule Catholics were treated very badly. Disagreement between religions wasn’t new. Fighting and argument in England went back many years. When James I became king, the situation for Catholics got worse, as many were persecuted for their beliefs.

How to kill a king

All the conspirators had previously been involved in other schemes which tried to win religious freedom for Catholics. In the Gunpowder Plot, the members of Catesby’s band each played their part. Thomas Percy secured a house next to the House of Lords. It became the gang’s headquarters where they are believed to have dug a tunnel to the foundation walls of the House of Lords. Thomas Winter is said to have led the digging of the secret tunnel intended for transporting the deadly gunpowder. Then, in March 1605, Percy was able to rent a cellar directly below the House of Lords – the perfect place to plant their gunpowder. It was explosives expert Guy Fawkes’s job to light the fuse. The plan was then for him to escape to Europe by boat.

The plot unravels

The Arrest of Guy Fawkes

The conspirators successfully smuggled barrels of gunpowder into the cellar, concealing them with wood and coal. On the evening before the State Opening ceremony, however, their plan hit a snag. Guy Fawkes was discovered in the cellar. One of the men who found Fawkes was Lord Monteagle, a man close to the king. Fawkes tried to hide his identity, giving a fake name: John Johnson. But his presence in the cellars was cause for suspicion. A little over a week earlier, Lord Monteagle – a Catholic – had received an anonymous letter urging him not to attend the State Opening on 5 November. There was going to be trouble, the letter warned. Monteagle shared the letter with the king on 1 November. At first, the king and his government decided not to take action, but to wait to see if more details of the plot came to light.

Following Fawkes’s discovery in the cellars, Sir Thomas Knyvett, the Justice for Westminster, ordered a further search. He discovered 36 barrels of gunpowder. Guy Fawkes was arrested and sent to the Tower of London.

Fawkes’s capture and its aftermath

Word spread quickly of Fawkes’s arrest. The rest of the plotters fled to the Midlands where, in expectation of their plan’s success, they had made preparations for rebellion. Under torture, Fawkes gave away the names of his fellow conspirators. The authorities pursued them, and several of the gang were killed in a shoot-out. The rest were arrested and thrown in the Tower of London where they were tortured. In January 1606, the failed plotters were convicted of high treason and executed. In a bloody display they were hanged, drawn and quartered – the medieval punishment for treason. The heads and other portions of the plotters’ bodies were set up at various points around London.

Who sent the letter to Lord Monteagle?

The origin of the letter warning Lord Monteagle to stay away from the State Opening ceremony is uncertain. The conspirators suspected one of their fellow plotters Francis Tresham, who was reportedly one of the least enthusiastic about the plan. Tresham’s sister was the wife of Lord Monteagle, and so Tresham might have been looking out for her benefit. Another theory is that the letter wasn’t genuine, and that it may have come from government circles.

View the letter to Lord Monteagle and transcript (PDF 692kb)

Whatever its origin, the letter seems to have been crucial in foiling the Gunpowder Plot.

The legacy of the plot

The monarch's Yeoman of the Guard

To this day, people across the UK celebrate Guy Fawkes Day with fireworks and bonfires as a reminder of the failed attempt to kill King James. And the monarch’s Yeoman of the Guard still search the cellars of the Houses of Parliament before each State Opening … just in case.

Image: The monarch’s Yeoman Guard preparing to search the cellars


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History of the Sutton Hoo and Video

Helmet from the Sutton Hoo ship-burial 1, Engl...

Helmet from the Sutton Hoo ship-burial 1, England. British Museum. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sutton Hoo, near Woodbridge, in the English county of Suffolk, is the site of two 6th- and early 7th-century cemeteries. One contained an undisturbed ship burial including a wealth of Anglo-Saxon artefacts of outstanding art-historical and archaeological significance, now held in the British Museum in London.

Sutton Hoo is of a primary importance to early medieval historians because it sheds light on a period of English history that is on the margin between myth, legend, and historical documentation. Use of the site culminated at a time when Rædwald, the ruler of the East Angles, held senior power among the English people and played a dynamic if ambiguous part in the establishment of Christian rulership in England; it is generally thought most likely that he is the person buried in the ship. The site has been vital in understanding the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of East Anglia and the whole early Anglo-Saxon period.

The ship-burial, probably dating from the early 7th century and excavated in 1939, is one of the most magnificent archaeological finds in England for its size and completeness, far-reaching connections, the quality and beauty of its contents, and the profound interest of the burial ritual itself. The initial excavation was privately sponsored by the landowner, but when the significance of the find became apparent, national experts took over. Subsequent archaeological campaigns, particularly in the late 1960s and late 1980s, have explored the wider site and many other individual burials. The most significant artefacts from the ship-burial, displayed in the British Museum, are those found in the burial chamber, including a suite of metalwork dress fittings in gold and gems, a ceremonial helmet, shield and sword, a lyre, and many pieces of silver plate from the Eastern Roman Empire. The ship-burial has from the time of its discovery prompted comparisons with the world described in the heroic Old English poem Beowulf, which is set in southern Sweden. It is in that region, especially at Vendel, that close archaeological parallels to the ship-burial are found, both in its general form and in details of the military equipment that the burial contains.

Although it is the ship-burial that commands the greatest attention from tourists, there is also rich historical meaning in the two separate cemeteries, their position in relation to the Deben estuary and the North Sea, and their relation to other sites in the immediate neighbourhood. Of the two grave fields found at Sutton Hoo, one (the “Sutton Hoo cemetery”) had long been known to exist because it consists of a group of approximately 20 earthen burial mounds that rise slightly above the horizon of the hill-spur when viewed from the opposite bank. The other, called here the “new” burial ground, is situated on a second hill-spur close to the present Exhibition Hall, about 500 m upstream of the first, and was discovered and partially explored in 2000 during preparations for the construction of the hall. This also had burials under mounds, but was not known because they had long since been flattened by agricultural activity. The site has a visitor’s centre, with many original and replica artefacts and a reconstruction of the ship burial chamber, and the burial field can be toured in the summer months.

Here is an interactive version: http://www.google.com/culturalinstitute/exhibit/sutton-hoo-anglo-saxon-ship-burial/gQOPNM9M?hl=en-GB&position=0%2C34

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