Dorset

Author Michael Rosen pens poems about ancient grave goods

Michael Rosen inspects the Desborough Mirror - similar to the Portesham Mirror Image copyright Martin Godwin
Image caption Michael Rosen said poetry gave people another way to look at objects on show

An Iron Age mirror found in a woman's grave in Dorset has become the subject of a poem by children's author Michael Rosen.

The former children's laureate has written three poems about ancient grave goods as part of a project involving the British Museum.

Rosen said the project reminded him of items placed in the casket of his son, Eddie, who died aged 18 of meningitis.

The author performed the poems at the museum in London on Thursday.

The bronze Portesham Mirror, owned by Dorset County Museum in Dorchester, was found by a metal detectorist in 1994 in the grave of a powerful, elderly woman and dates from the 1st Century AD.

'Superstitious and irrational'

Inspiration for Rosen's other two poems came from the Folkton drums - carved, chalk cylinders buried with a small child in North Yorkshire 5,000 years ago - and the Knowes of Trotty gold foil discs - from an early Bronze Age grave in Orkney.

Rosen said: "Museums are getting more interested in interpretation - giving people another way to look at the objects on show.

"We all experience dearly beloved ones who go... and in my case it was a child.

"As I immersed myself in these various objects I did find myself thinking of the feelings I had and what his brothers and sisters put in the casket with him - it was a football scarf and I seem to remember he was rather fond of a particular type of Turkish beer so they put in a bottle.

"Lots of people do that. In its own way it's completely superstitious and irrational and in some ways it's very, very comforting."

The project about grave goods in ancient Britain also involves Reading and Manchester universities and is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Image copyright Martin Godwin
Image caption Michael Rosen inspected the Desborough mirror - similar to the Portesham mirror - at the British Museum
Image copyright Dorset County Museum
Image caption The Portesham mirror is part of Dorset County Museum's collections

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