Sometimes I feel this blog writes itself: almost everywhere I go, I now encounter an aspect of mortuary archaeology. Here’s a piece about crazy Victorian Egyptomania.
Death is in the air, everywhere I look around…
Let’s take a family day out to Biddulph Grange Gardens, a lovely National Trust property comprising Victorian landscaped gardens near Stoke-on-Trent. The gardens represent the botanical collecting of James Bateman. Sections of the gardens allude to different parts of the world; the Himalayas, China, Italy and… Cheshire.
“All pretty typical crazy Victorian landscape lunacy”, you might say. So where’s the funerary archaeology? Look no further than the “Egypt” section of the gardens course!
‘Egypt’ constitutes a high-hedged garden with two opposing entrances, both flanked by inward-facing pairs of sphinxes on plinths. One entrance is simply a door-shaped hole in the hedge. The other leads you to a tomb-style doorway and into a tunnel which leads you to ‘China’.
The craziest bit is the yew above the tomb-like doorway. As one looks towards the doorway into the tunnel, one realises that the yew has been carved the shape of a pyramid!
Yew pyramids, pairs of sphinxes, a tomb doorway. The only thing missing was a mummy to round off the whole Egyptian theme!