Manga At The British Museum

The past year, I’ve missed out on a couple of exhibitions I really, really wanted to see. But I was determined we would not miss this one, given the boys’ love of Japanese culture.

The Citi exhibition - Manga

The description of the exhibition, in the British Museum’s own words:
Enter a graphic world where art and storytelling collide in the largest exhibition of manga ever to take place outside of Japan. Now a multimedia global phenomenon, manga developed after the Second World War, but its artistic roots can be traced back to the 12th century. A fascinating glimpse into Japanese culture, manga tells stories with themes from gender to adventure, in real or imagined worlds. Immersive and playful, the exhibition explores manga’s vast appeal and cultural crossover, showcasing original Japanese manga and its influence across the globe, from anime to ‘cosplay’ dressing up. This influential art form entertains, inspires and challenges – and is brought to life like never before in this ground-breaking exhibition.

We went last Saturday and, for the first time in all the times we’ve visited the museum, the queue just to get through the gate was massive! It snaked up the road, past the museum, and back down again to the gate. I was a little miffed that there wasn’t a separate queue for members, but hey ho, we still got in and there is a separate bag check for members.

In the museum itself, it was positively heaving. I have never seen so many people in the building.

We headed straight for the exhibition – a moment’s quiet as there was hardly anyone in the entrance area. It was a pleasant surprise to discover that photography is allowed; usually it isn’t for major exhibitions.

The first thing that people see is Alice from Alice in Wonderland. I had no idea, but the story is a massive influence on manga with various interpretations.

‘Alice’ at the entrance to the exhibition
An alternate version of the White Rabbit

Getting through the exhibition did prove a little frustrating at times as there’s always a section of people who seem to give no thought to others who are there to enjoy the same thing.

We took our time – there’s so much to see – and I, especially, discovered new manga I’m looking forward to reading.

I’ll let the photos we took do the ‘talking’ now…

Line drawings of ‘Alice’

Line drawings of ‘Alice’

The tools of manga artists

The tools of manga artists

More line drawings of ‘Alice’

More line drawings of ‘Alice’

Drawing implements

Drawing implements

Illustration of travelling warrior
Dragon Ball Z (I think)
Astro Boy! I’m pretty sure this is the first anime I ever watched, back in the day

Astro Boy! I’m pretty sure this is the first anime I ever watched, back in the day

Astro Boy comic cover
Miketsu, character from ‘Kaijinki’
Astro Boy Metropolis
Explanation for ‘Kaijinki’
Print and bookshop photograph - explanation below
This is the explanation for the photograph above

This is the explanation for the photograph above

From the manga ‘Vagabond’ by Inoue Takehiko

From the manga ‘Vagabond’ by Inoue Takehiko

On either side of this illuminated image of a manga bookstore, there were seating and shelves filled with manga, which we were allowed to browse through and even read, cover to cover.

Illuminated display photograph of a manga bookstore
Head of a titan from ‘Attack on Titan’

Head of a titan from ‘Attack on Titan’

Art from ‘Attack on Titan’

Art from ‘Attack on Titan’

From ‘Saint Young Men’, one I’m looking forward to getting into. Explanation below…

From ‘Saint Young Men’, one I’m looking forward to getting into. Explanation below…

Explanation for ‘Saint Young Men’
‘One Hundred Poems’ playing cards explanation
‘One Hundred Poems’ playing cards

‘One Hundred Poems’ playing cards

Poster illustration
From ‘Toward the Terra’, explanation below…

From ‘Toward the Terra’, explanation below…

Explanation for sci-fi manga series, ‘Toward the Terra’
From ‘Golden Kamuy’

From ‘Golden Kamuy’

‘Golden Kamuy’

‘Golden Kamuy’

Ceiling hanging display

Whenever I visit an exhibition, I always get the accompanying book. This one is true value for money. It’s about 350 pages and costs just under £30 (10% off for members).

Accompanying book for the exhibition
Satisfyingly thick…

Satisfyingly thick…

Pages from the book

Divided into 6 sections, it’s chock-full of interviews, photos, images from so many different manga.

Chapter 1 from the exhibition book
Chapter 2 from the exhibition book
Chapter 3 from the exhibition book
Chapter 4 from the exhibition book
Chapter 5 from the exhibition book
Chapter 6 from the exhibition book

Best of all (in my opinion), there are about 15 manga extracts peppered throughout – 8 or more pages of different manga in original Japanese script, with English translations on the side.

Manga excerpt, ‘Golden Kamuy’

Manga excerpt, ‘Golden Kamuy’

English translation with numbered panels

English translation with numbered panels

For those who are interested, the manga excerpts are:

Golden Kamuy’ by Noda Satoru
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ by Ótomo Katsuhiro
Giga Town: A Catalogue of Manga Symbols’ by Kóno Fumiyo
Blank Canvas: My So-Called Artist’s Journey’ by Higashimura Akiko
Edo As It Was’ by Akatsuka Fujio
The End of Unagi-Inu’ by Akatsuka Fujio
The Willow Tree’ by Hagio Moto
Stay Fine’ by Chiba Tetsuya
Slam Dunk’ by Inoue Takehiko
Real’ by Inoue Takehiko
Blue Giant Supreme’ by Ishizuka Shin’ichi
Saint Young Men’ by Nakamura Hikaru
Olympia Kyklos’ by Yamazaki Mari
Red Flower’ by Morohoshi Daijiró
Ocean Adventurer Kaitei’ by Hoshino Yukinobu

The exhibition is on until 26th August. If you can’t make it, I’d recommend getting the book from the museum’s online store. If you love manga, you will not regret it. For, as the book states, there really is “a manga for everyone”.

Weekend At The British Museum

That makes it sound like I stayed the entire weekend at the museum! If only...

British Museum

After way too long, I finally had a weekend away, all to myself. Boys were happy to care for Neil, so I could have a break.

I decided to keep things straightforward and picked London and the British Museum. What helped the decision was a talk being held at the museum – ‘Ancient Myth in the Modern World’. The discussion was led by Bettany Hughes with Madeline Miller and Kamila Shamsie. I’d just read ‘Circe’ by Madeline Miller and was excited to hear her talking about it. I’ll review the book next week.

This was the first time I’d attended a talk at the museum. All three women wore their knowledge lightly, making for a heartily entertaining discussion. At no point did any of them talk down to us; the assumption was we were as aware of the classics as they were.

Obviously, I’ve been to the museum enough times before, but this was the first time I was there on my own. It was bliss, wandering around with no agenda. I’d already decided I would spend Saturday in Egypt and Greece after making my way around the Waddesdon Bequest, which I’d not seen yet.

The Waddesdon Bequest is a collection of about 300 objects, left to the museum by Baron Ferdinand Rothschild in 1898. It’s meant to document the history of collecting.

I apologise that some of the pictures aren’t that good. It seemed like a good idea at the time not to take my camera (!) but it didn’t take long for me to regret that decision. Had to rely on my phone camera…

These are book covers! Rare survivors of the Reformation, ‘they decorated the Book of Epistles and the Gospels on the altar of the Gothic Minster in Ulm’.

Book covers

This is the Holy Thorn Reliquary. In 1239 in Constantinople, King Louis IX of France acquired the Crown of Thorns worn by Jesus; it cost him about half the annual expenditure of France! Then, sometime in the 14th century, Jean, duc de Berry, commissioned this reliquary to house one of the thorns. The thorn is in the middle, mounted on the sapphire, in front of the figure of Jesus.

Holy Thorn Reliquary

A hunting calendar (1600-1620), Germany, engraved with the names and figures of different game animals and hunting dogs.

Hunting calendar

This depicts subjects from the ‘Aeneid’ (about 1540-50); Neptune calms the winds.

Subjects from the 'Aeneid'

Miniature altar piece, dated 1511, carved with scenes from the life and Passion of Christ.

Miniature altar piece
Miniature altar piece - detail

Love these horses, part of the Parthenon...

Part of Parthenon

‘The Mausoleum at Halikarnassos was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The modern word for a monumental tomb derives from the Latin form of Maussollos’ name’. Maussollos was a member of the Hekatomnid dynasty who governed Karia in south-west Asia Minor. He came to power in 377BC, by which time Karia was a distant part of the already weakening Persian empire. Maussollos succeeded in creating a virtual kingdom and established a new capital at Halikarnassos.
This is a forepart of a colossal chariot horse from the quadriga, a four-horse chariot group; it was positioned on the summit of the mausoleum. The original bronze bridle and bit remain on the horse.

Chariot horse

I never tire of taking pictures of the Great Court...

Interior - Great Court
Exterior of the Reading Room

Exterior of the Reading Room

Reading Room seen from Egypt gallery

Reading Room seen from Egypt gallery

Window into the Reading Room

Window into the Reading Room

Tennyson quote etched on the floor of the Great Court
Stairs to the side of the Reading Room

On Sunday, I spent time in Medieval Europe and India. I saved India for last because of the extensive refurbishment that had taken place last year; I was excited to see how different it was to what I remembered.

Looking down at stairs leading up to Europe galleries

Looking down at stairs leading up to Europe galleries

This two-handed sword of state (about 1473-83) was used by the Prince of Wales at royal ceremonies. ‘The steel blade was commissioned in Germany and bears the mark of two running wolves. Along the edge of the handle are invocations to the Virgin Mary’.

Sword of State

A lion-shaped door knocker (about 1200), part of the fittings of a church. ‘By grasping it, a wrong-doer sought the protection of the Church and accepted whatever punishment was imposed’.

Lion head door knocker

The Dunstable Swan Jewel (about 1400) was found in a Dominican priory in Dunstable. ‘It may have been worn to indicate an allegiance to the de Bohun family or to the House of Lancaster. King Henry IV took the symbol of the swan when he married Mary de Bohun in 1380’.

Dunstable Swan Jewel

Tristram and Isolde casket (about 1180-1200), one of the earliest representations of the medieval story.

Tristram and Isolde casket

Three counters known as ‘tablemen’ (about 1180-1200), used in a game similar to backgammon.

'Tablemen' pieces used in a game similar to backgammon

The Savernake Horn, a hunting-horn from Savernake Forest in Wiltshire, carved from an elephant tusk and decorated with enamelled silver panels.

The Savernake hunting-horn

Entering the South Asia section, the first thing that catches the eye is this gorgeous set of dragon tiles from the Ming Dynasty. These dragons were part of a garden screen that originally ran along the ridge of a building

Ming Dynasty dragon wall tiles
Chinese dragon tiles - detail

This stunning sculpture by the Bengali sculptor, Mrinalini Mukherjee, ‘suggests a female form… it has been built up using lengths of thin, folded clay lending it an organic quality, and is partly glazed’.

Sculpture

The temples of the Hoysala Dynasty, which ruled the southwestern Deccan between 1006 and 1346, are quite distinctive and featured voluptuous female bracket figures that were placed at an angle between the temple wall and roof. The stone panel of elephant and riders is another distinctive example.

Hoysala Temple figures
Hoysala Temple figures
Stone panel of elephant and riders, Hoysala temple

This carved ammonite fossil is known as a ‘Shalagram’; it’s believed to be a naturally occurring form of Vishnu, representing his discus weapon, the ‘chakra’. These ‘fossilised marine molluscs are found in the Kali Gandaki River in western Nepal.’ This particular example has been carved on one side with an image of Vishnu lying on the cosmic serpent, Ananta.

Carved ammonite fossil

‘Shiva dakshinamurti’ – ‘the god sits at ease in a position known as facing south. High in the Himalayas, where he resides on Mount Kailash, he turns to his devotees (the south is towards India) and teaches’. I love the serene expression on his face; it’s as if he really is looking down and smiling at you.

Statue of Shiva

Next visit, I’ll take in the rest of the gallery – the Amaravati Shrine and China at the other end.

Couldn’t leave without treating myself to the usual – a couple of books:

'Confronting the Classics' by Mary Beard
HP Lovecraft

The Sunday Section: Travel - British Museum and Ancient Egypt's Sunken Cities

Seems like forever since we’ve been to an exhibition at the British Museum. This particular one I’ve been wanting to visit since it opened earlier this year. It finishes at the end of the month; when last Saturday presented us with the opportunity to go, off we went. Bonus – we got to enjoy it with my cousin from America and his lovely wife; they were here on holiday and it was our chance to catch up as we also had lunch together afterwards.

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As always with special exhibitions, photography is not allowed. So, I did my usual and bought the book of the exhibition, and I’m so glad I did. The wealth of information, not to mention the stunning pictures, made it well worth the price. Again, as I always do, I’ve taken a few pictures from the book with the sole intention of giving those who didn’t get a chance to visit the exhibition a taster of how spectacular the finds are.

For more pictures and videos, I urge you to visit the site of the French underwater archaeologist, Franck Goddio, who led the expedition conducted by the European Institute for Underwater Archaeology; they’ve been working on it for 20 years.

Thonis… in early times was the trading port of Egypt…” ~ Diodorus Siculus (Greek historian)

Located at the mouth of the Canopic, the westernmost branch of the Nile, the cities of Thonis-Heracleion and Canopus flourished thanks to the flow of different people and ideas, and the exchange of goods. Unfortunately, this prime site was also unstable; the landscape was made up of lakes and marshes. Eventually, having been abandoned by their inhabitants, possibly because of earthquakes and tidal waves, the cities sank beneath the sea. Research shows that the submerging of the area was caused by a variety of factors including the slow subsidence of the land, and ‘liquefaction’, a process where solid ground literally turns into a liquid.

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But before this happened, the area was well-known. It was here that Greeks came into contact with the Egyptian civilisation. According to Greek myth, it was here that Herakles first set foot in Egypt, and this gave the Canopic it’s alternative name, the Heracleotic. According to Greek stories, the city of Canopus owed its name to Canobos, who was pilot to King Menelaus, the husband of Helen of Troy.

It was during the 26th dynasty, the Saite dynasty (664-525BC), that the close relations between Egypt and Greece began. Psamtik I, the founder of the Saite dynasty, drafted Greek mercenaries into his army; both countries traded extensively; Greek aristocrats visited Egypt; and Greek traders were allowed to settle in Thonis-Heracleion and Naukratis, which was an inland harbour.

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Naukratis was unique in that it was, both, a royal Egyptian port and a Greek port of trade. The sanctuaries found here were dedicated to patron deities of seafaring – the Dioskouroi, who were the twin sons of Zeus; and Aphrodite, who was also the guardian of safe voyages. There were also sanctuaries dedicated to Hera, Apollo and Zeus. The earliest stone temple for Apollo was built around 560BC at Naukratis.

It was those who participated in the daily life and rituals of the people of Egypt – like Greek traders and mercenaries – who would have been at the forefront of enabling understanding between Egypt and Greece. They would have been the ones taking, not only goods, but also Egyptian ideas about the afterlife and the origins of the gods, knowledge of medicine and craftsmanship, back to their homeland.

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The Decree of Sais - a royal decree issued by the pharaoh Nectanebo I, regarding the taxation of trade passing through Thonis-Heracleion and Naukratis. About 6.5ft tall, the clarity of detail is astounding, considering it is almost 2400 years old.

In 332BC, Alexander the Great conquered Egypt, freeing it from the unwelcome rule of Darius III, Great King of Persia. Although he was a foreign conqueror, the Egyptians hailed Alexander as their liberator for they greatly disliked the Persians. Taking up residence in Memphis, Alexander performed the traditional duties of a pharaoh, including making sacrifices to the local royal god, the Apis bull. While maintaining his Greek heritage, Alexander was successfully accepted in Egypt. He crossed the Libyan Desert to the oracle shrine of Zeus-Ammon, an Egyptian god with Greek and Libyan components. The oracle there recognised him as the son of Zeus-Ammon, and Alexander’s rule was seen as divinely ordained.

Following Alexander’s death in 323BC, it was his trusted friend, Ptolemy, who took over Egypt. He was crowned in 305BC, and as Ptolemy I Soter I, he founded a new dynasty, the Ptolemies, who ruled until the reign of Cleopatra III. Under the Ptolemies, the city of Alexandria grew into one of the greatest intellectual and cultural centres of the ancient world, which benefitted the nearby cities of Thonis-Heracleion and Canopus. The Ptolemies were also responsible for building some of the best-known temples, including Dendera, Edfu and Philae.

The Rosetta Stone bears a decree, which established the divine cult of Ptolemy V Epiphanes, ‘a token of gratitude from Egyptian priests for restoring cosmic order (maat) by fulfilling his cultic duties’. The decree is written in 3 scripts – hieroglyphic, demotic and Greek.

Rosetta Stone, British Museum

Rosetta Stone, British Museum

This royal cult did not replace that of the deities but, instead, enhanced it. Neither was it limited to the male ruler for it also embraced the cult of the queen; the mother, wife or daughter of the pharaoh were usually portrayed with divine attributes. The daughter of Ptolemy I Soter I, Arsinoe, gained divine status after her death, and was very popular with both, Egyptians and Greeks, who worshipped her as a Greco-Egyptian goddess. The Egyptians identified her as Isis, while the Greeks saw her as Hera and Aphrodite.

Statue of Arsinoe II

Statue of Arsinoe II

The patron deity of Alexandria and the protector of the Ptolemaic dynasty is one I’d never heard of until I saw him at the exhibition – Serapis. His name is derived from Osiris-Apis, the sacred bull of Memphis and a form of Osiris unique to the area. The Apis bull was carefully selected; he had to have certain markings, and was seen as a representative of the creator god, Ptah, who was also the chief deity of Memphis. The bull was crowned like a pharaoh, served by priests and had his own harem of cows. On his death, the bull became Osiris-Apis. Serapis is seen to be a Greek version of Osiris-Apis, and an amalgamation of Zeus, Hades, Dionysus and Asklepios (god of medicine).

Serapis bust from Alexandria

Serapis bust from Alexandria

The Apis bull, Alexandria. This statue is life-size, just over 6ft in height and 6.7ft in length. Again, the detail is amazing.

I thought, at this point, we were nearing the end of the exhibition. How wrong I was. We were at the ‘Myth and Mysteries of Osiris’. After the part detailing the ‘myth’, which involved the death and resurrection of Osiris, there was ‘the Mysteries of Osiris’, the most important ritual celebrations of the year. It took place in the month of Khoiak, the last month of the Nile Inundation when the flood waters receded, and the fields were ready for cultivation. The Inundation season itself was called Akhet, and lasted from mid-July to mid-November.

Osiris seated

Osiris seated, Saqqara. We couldn't get over how 'new' some of the statues looked; how did the craftsmen achieve the satin polish?

False door, Sais. False doors were imitation doorways placed in tombs. They faced west, linking the living and the dead. Here, Osiris is the central figure flanked by the goddesses Isis and Nephthys.

Priests made a figure of Osiris called an Osiris ‘vegetans’, which was basically a corn mummy. Earth, barley and floodwater were placed in 2 halves of a golden mould, and watered until the plants sprouted; this symbolised eternally renewed life. The Osiris vegetans was then included in a ritual event, carried on a papyrus barque on the sacred lake of the temple. In total, 34 boats were sailed, each carrying a deity; the lamps on the boats numbered 365, representing the days in the year.

This ornament, called a pectoral, was worn on the chest; it was found in the grave of king Sheshonq II at Tanis. It depicts the solar barque sailing on the primeval waters under a star-filled sky, flanked by the goddesses Isis and Nephthys.

The Greek god who was likened to Osiris was Dionysus. Herodotus wrote that he learnt of this from Egyptian priests; later, Diodorus Siculus and Plutarch noted similarities between the 2 deities. Dionysus brought civilisation to humanity; he was dismembered by the Titans and revived by Rhea who reassembled his limbs; and he was “the lord and master… of the nature of every sort of moisture” (Plutarch).

Dionysus was not the only Greek god who found his counterpart in an Egyptian deity. Apollo was likened to Horus; the Titan Typhon to Seth; and Hermes’ counterpart was Thoth. As for the rest of the pantheon – Amun was linked to Zeus; Mut to Hera; Khonsu to Herakles; Isis/Hathor to Demeter/Aphrodite; and Neith to Athena.

The exhibition finished with ‘Egypt and Rome’, the time of Cleopatra and Marc Antony. By this time, we’d been there for over 2 hours, and exhibition-fatigue had set in; I admit I didn’t pay much attention to the last part.

Ibis mummy, Saqarra. Associated with Thoth, the god of wisdom, ibis was one of the most important animals worshipped by the ancient Egyptians. The dark patch on the linen wrappings is resin. The X-ray on the right shows that it contains a completely preserved ibis. 

Queen (possibly Cleopatra III) dressed as Isis, Thonis-Heracleion

Queen (possibly Cleopatra III) dressed as Isis, Thonis-Heracleion

I’m pretty sure this is one of the most extensive exhibitions we’ve been to in a long time. It was well worth it, and I’m glad we got the chance to see it.

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Statue of Horus protecting pharaoh. The pharaoh shown is Nectanebo II, the last native pharaoh of Egypt. The falcon's eyes were inlaid with glass, but only the left one has remained intact. 

It’s hard to grasp the scale of some of the statues when you look at the pictures. It was more than a little daunting standing before them as they towered over us. More than ever now, I want to visit Egypt.

Statues of Ptolemaic king and queen, Thonis-Heracleion

Statues of Ptolemaic king and queen, Thonis-Heracleion. The king's statue is about 16.4ft high; the queen is just over 16ft. 

Favourites on Friday - Butterflies at the Museum

Last Friday, the boys and I treated ourselves to a day out in London, at the Natural History Museum. 

This is the first time we’ve been to the museum on a Saturday, and talk about heaving!  We’d booked tickets for the butterfly exhibition, and had just under an hour to kill before going in – Liam and I went to check out the minerals, and the vault, while Gordon went to visit his favourite, the T-Rex. 

The mineral collection is vast; even if you spent one full day in there, I still don’t think it would be enough time to see everything!

The length of the mineral room; the entrance to the vault is at the other end

Even the pillars are works of art

 Aurora Pyramid of Hope ~ 296 naturally coloured diamonds, which took more than 25 years to collect.  They show the full range of colours in which diamonds can be found.  Ultraviolet light shows another quality to these gems, colours which are usually hidden when viewed in normal light.  For the owners, the collection represents the natural beauty of the earth.

Wulfenite crystals ~ delicate butterscotch coloured crystals found in the Glove mine in Arizona in 1958.

Boulder opals, just like m favourite pendant ...

Peridot ~ ‘Zabargad, a tiny island in the Red Sea, is famous for the deep green stone … Over hundreds of years, the island has been lost and rediscovered many times by different civilisations.  At one time it was fiercely defended by the Ancient Egyptians, at another it was ruled by pirates.  More recently, it has been mined by private western companies.  This crystal, one of the largest ever found, and the magnificent step-cut stone next to it, display the most prized bottle green colour.

Peridot on the left; topaz on the right ... sorry, can't remember what the one in the middle is

Watermelon tourmaline ~ ‘… tourmaline often occurs in crystal-lined pockets deep underground.  These pockets are sometimes disturbed by mining or natural forces in the Earth’s crust, which causes the crystals to break up.  This one has been carefully restored … rose-centred crystals, sheathed with green, are also known as watermelon tourmaline because if you cut a slice across the crystal, it resembles a slice of the fruit.

The butterfly exhibition wasn’t as ‘big’ as I was expecting, and I did feel a little disappointed.  But then it’s not every day you get the chance to have loads of butterflies flying all around you, so no reason to feel ‘bad’ about it.  There was a notice before going in that stated it would be hot and humid inside as the butterflies thrive in that atmosphere … We stepped in, and it was like stepping out of the air-conditioned airport in Kuala Lumpur!  Instant sweat, and the boys’ glasses fogged up.  Glad there wasn’t a mirror anywhere around – did not want to see what state my hair was in!

Tried filming the butterflies, but that was more difficult than I realised it would be … it was so hard trying to keep them in frame.  There was a gorgeous blue one but it proved quite elusive to the camera.

The size of this caterpillar – even the boys exclaimed loudly and they’ve seen more of this sort of stuff than I have.  It’s the caterpillar of the Atlas Moth, the largest moth in the world, with a wingspan of over 9 inches ...

… and this is an adult Atlas Moth – Big!

Here's a little of what I managed to film of the elusive creatures ...

Would have liked to spend longer amongst the butterflies, but the heat and humidity – cannot believe I’m saying that about London in September! – was getting unbearable.  Stepping outside was so deliciously cool, we just stood there with our arms out for a few moments.

'Parts of a trunk from a primitive tree unearthed in 1854 at Craigleith Quarry, in Edinburgh … excavated from rocks 330million years old, the lower Carboniferous Period …’ This tree stump, then, is older than the dinosaurs, which appeared in the Triassic period, 248-208million years ago.

We always go in the main entrance that has the diplodocus, but as we were near the other entrance, which leads directly to the ‘Earth’ galleries (which can also be accessed from the ‘main’ building), we went back in that way.  A recent addition is this stunning stegosaurus skeleton.  I really like this display with the ‘earth’ in the background.

‘… the most intact Stegosaurus fossil skeleton ever found, with more than 90% of its bones present.  Because all these bones belonged to a single animal, this specimen shows better than ever before what Stegosaurus would have looked like in life.  It took 18 months to dig this fragile skeleton out of the ground, after its discovery in 2003 at Red Canyon Ranch, Wyoming …

It's always thrilling going up the escalator into the 'earth' ... 

Took a little video of the outside, and as I went up, hopefully it gives an idea of what it's like.

'This giant alabaster bowl and pedestal, or tazza, was presented to the Museum of Geology (now the Earth galleries), by the Duke of Devonshire for the Museum opening in 1851

After lunch, we thought we’d stroll through the dinosaur section.  But, first time ever, there was a queue!!  Just to get in.  And from what we could see, once inside, it was a slow crawl, it was that busy.  Gordon said it hadn’t been like that when he’d gone in earlier – note to self, next time, dinos first then everything else.  Liam suggested we go look at a section we’d never visited before, but we thought we’d seen everything in the museum over the years.  Turns out we’d never been to ‘Fishes, Reptiles and Amphibians’!

Skeleton of an Indian python

Boa constrictor

Snapping turtle

Stump-tailed skink - I love these, they are so adorable!

Flying lizards

Frilled lizard

Skeleton of a frog - fascinating feet

Salamander, and skeleton of giant Japanese salamander

Salamanders

Skeleton of a crocodile

This next lot are denizens of the deep, very rarely seen, mainly because it's so dark where they live ... They are so weird-looking, more like something out of someone's fevered imagination!  Especially the one at the bottom of the first picture, with the big head, called an umbrella-mouthed gulper - how can that head work with that ... body??

Umbrella-mouthed gulper

 ... and this one - does he ever get caught up on anything?

The 'sword' of a swordfish

 Megalodon tooth on the left - this extinct relative of the great white shark lived about 15.9-2.6 million years ago, and grew to over 50ft.  The 'little' tooth on the right is from a great white shark, which grows to just over 20ft.

This little fishy got caught in the shell, and the mother of pearl formed over it

Giant clam

A few pictures on the journey home … the London Eye from the train, just after leaving Waterloo station ...

Coming into Southampton ...

Huge cruise ship at Southampton docks ...

Leaving Southampton ...