Some of England’s rarest treasures are now on display at the Quadriga Gallery in Wellington Arch, Hyde Park Corner. English Heritage is marking the centenary of the Ancient Monuments Act thorough out the year and this is the second of four exhibitions. The parliamentary Act recognised the state’s duty to protect historic sites and relics –we are supremely grateful for their foresight.
One of the items on display is a bronze steelyard weight in the form of a bearded satyr discovered at Richborough Roman fort near Sandwich in Kent. Richborough was the first Roman fort built in Britain under the orders of Aulus Plautius Commander of the Roman army which invaded Britain in 43 and was known at the time as Rutupiae.
Richborough continued in importance through the ages; it became a secret World War I installation used to ferry troops and supplies to the trenches. After the war it silted up and became disused. It was revived in World War II and part of the Mulberry Harbour installation, used in the Normandy landings, was built there. Today the ruins of the fort are another English Heritage site and well worth a visit down to this lovely corner of Kent – and you just know what you are going to have to have for lunch – courtesy of the 4th Earl!
The Wellington Arch was built to commemorate the victories of the Duke of Wellington whose country seat as Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports was Walmer Castle just down the road from Sandwich – preserved by – you’ve guessed it – English Heritage, why not spend a day in Kent this weekend.
Just in case it has slipped your memory:- A steelyard is a straight-beam balance with arms of unequal length incorporating a counterweight which slides along the calibrated longer arm to counterbalance the load and indicate its weight.
Steelyards of different sizes were used to weigh loads ranging from ounces to tons. A small steelyard could be a foot or less in length and thus conveniently used as a portable device that merchants and traders could use to weigh small ounce-sized items of merchandise. The largest steelyards were three stories tall and used to weigh fully laden horse-drawn carts!