In the midst of the vast, vacant Sahara desert, just outside of Ouadane, Mauritania, lies a 30-mile wide geological oddity known the Richat Structure, or the “Eye of Africa.” From space, this natural curiosity forms a distinct and unmistakable bull’s-eye that once served as a geographical landmark for early astronauts as they passed over the Sahara.
- 2 minutes ago
- 58 minutes ago
Great Britain’s Sword of State
- Maker: George Bowers, goldsmith, active 1660
- Dated: 1678 - 1698
- Medium: steel, silver gilt, the scabbard of wood, velvet, silver gilt.
- Measurements: 121.3 x 32.1 cm
- Acquirer: Charles II, King of Great Britain (1630-85), when King of Great Britain de facto (1660-85)
- Provenance: supplied to Charles II in 1678, the scabbard supplied to William III
The sword has a broad, straight, flat, two-edged steel blade with etched decoration, and a cruciform silver-gilt hilt, the quillons in the form of a rampant lion and unicorn, a fleur-de-lis at the front of the quillon block and a Tudor rose at the back, with a portcullis above. The wooden scabbard is covered in velvet with applied silver-gilt emblems including a rose, thistle, harp and fleur-de-lis, with a portcullis, royal lions and the coat of arms of William III.
This sword, known as the Sword of State, was traditionally used by the monarch after the coronation, in place of the Sword of Offering (which was kept with the regalia in the Abbey), for all formal occasions, when it would have been carried before the sovereign. The hilt of the sword and the decorative emblems on the scabbard show that it was intended to be carried with the point upwards.
Two swords of state were made for Charles II - the first in 1660, and this one in 1678. It is described as 'a new Sword of Estate most extraordinarily wrought Enchased and gilt'. The 1660 sword was used when Charles II attended Parliament, and this example was used at other formal occasions such as the ceremonial creation of the Knights of the Bath.
The scabbard carries the coat of arms of William III and so dates from his coronation. The 1660 sword no longer exists but this one has remained among the regalia in the Tower of London. It is still used occasionally by the Queen for events such as the investiture of the Prince of Wales in 1969 and the VE Day service in St Paul’s Cathedral in 1995.
- 1 hour ago
- 2 hours ago
DROMBEG STONE CIRCLE
Also known as the “Druid’s Altar,” the circle is a megalithic formation that once consisted of 17 stones (only 13 remain) out in the countryside of Cork County, Ireland. Radiocarbon dating of human remains found at the site during a 1957 excavation suggests that the area was built and actively used between 1100-800 BC. Now the site is secluded, tucked away between verdant farmland and network of country roads.
- 3 hours ago
- Dated: mid-19th Century
- Culture: Italian
The dagger has a straight, double-edged blade, ribbed at the tip and with three deep grooves. The tang is slightly thickened, and almost the entire surface is engraved with floral motifs. It features a brass hilt picturing a skeleton wearing a tunic, while the guard features is a snake in-the-round. Comes together with a velvet-covered wooden sheath with brass mounts decorated with bas-relieved leaf patterns.
- 4 hours ago
- Dated: partly circa 1600
- Measurements: overall length 77.5 cm; blade length 62.8 cm
Made in the Milanese style, the sword features a heavy blade struck with three spurious marks at the ricasso. The iron hilt, including vertically recurved fluted quillons cast in relief, comes with the tips formed as Turk’s heads, chiselled moulded fluted iron grip, and fitted with a Moor’s head pommel. The latter is finely chiselled, featuring a diadem and elaborately plaited hairpiece, the details picked-out in gold damascening (originally gem-set about the basal collar).
- 18 hours ago
- 19 hours ago