My day-job brings archaeological story to the headlines and inspires comedy!

Forgive me a little aside here, but I’m feeling a little proud about this.

I first started working with the Vyne, a National Trust property in Hampshire, about 18 months ago. On my first visit, one of the objects that most interested me (apart from the truncheons stored in the ante-chapel to impose the will of the aristocracy on the peasants) was a fourth century gold ring, said to have been one of Tolkien’s inspirations for the ring that features in his famous books. At the time, this ring was tucked away in the corner of a tiny display cabinet with a hand-written note that asserted but didn’t explain the Tolkien connection. The new property manager there, Dave Green, and I agreed that this was a story that deserved a bit more attention and explanation.

Since then Dave and his team, with the help of the Tolkien Society, have worked hard to give the ring the space it deserves. After a soft opening over the last month, the exhibition officially launched on Tuesday.

A new Adventurer's Map of the Vyne's formal gardens, taking inspiration from Tolkien's maps,
A new Adventurer’s Map of the Vyne’s formal gardens, taking inspiration from Tolkien’s maps,

I was chuffed to see that Dave had managed to get it onto the front page of the Guardian.But in the last couple of days, the story seems to have gone viral, with write-ups on news sites across the web. Its amazing to see what power the Tolkien name has in getting a story about a piece of archaeological detective work out into the public consciousness.

But today I was blown away when I discovered that Yahoo News has even seen fit to film a comedic report on the story. One which, though light-hearted and irreverent, takes the time to unpack and tell the archeological story and ends with a shout out to Sir Mortimer Wheeler.

4 thoughts on “My day-job brings archaeological story to the headlines and inspires comedy!

  1. Hi, Matthew —

    I wonder if you have a contact at The Vyne who may be able to help in my own research into the family of Emma Austen Leigh.

    Since the announcement, in the summer of 2012, of The Vyne’s procurement of six letters by Eliza Chute written to her sister Augusta Smith, I have tried several avenues to make contact. The most that comes back is a response that someone “will be in touch”; which never in the end occurs. (I’m in the US, so it’s a bit of a long trip to show up in person!)

    Jane Austen’s nephew James Edward Austen (-Leigh) married the niece of William and Eliza Chute. So The Vyne has other connections to literature, including Sir Walter Scott – whose ward married a nephew of these same Chutes.


    1. Hi Janeite, there has been a lot of personnel movement at the Vyne recently and the team is currently lacking a house and collections manager, who would likely be the person responding to your request. The team are also very I busy with the restoration of Sandham Memorial Chapel but I’ll see what I can do. Bare with us. 🙂

      1. Hi, Matthew — gosh I thought they had a new house manager just last year.

        I’d appreciate ANY help or suggestions – for, instance, if any copies have been placed somewhere (ie, HRO).

        Please use email, and I’ll be able to tell you more: smithandgosling [at] gmail [dot] com — and, THANKS for replying.


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