Ref Hunters to the Ready!
As you may have seen on social media or our newsletter, last week we did a bit of ref gathering for the game. Sure, we made a weekend of it as well, but there has to be some perks right?
Here’s the low down of what we got up to:
Tom - The Catacombs of Paris
The Catacombs have been on my to do list for a while, so it was great to finally get a chance to see them. We entered via an inconspicuous entrance in the middle of Paris (the only clue being a large queue of people), then after descending a lot of steps we emerged into some narrow limestone tunnels which wound round and along under the streets of Paris.
The tunnels were a side effect of vast amounts of underground quarrying that the Romans started in order to get stone for construction. The downside of this being that when the city later grew, it also started subsiding because there were massive holes beneath all of the buildings - whoops! The solution was to go below and reinforce the excavations with lots of pillars, which in turn created a network of accessible tunnels.
‘What about the bones though?’ You ask. Well, after the cities graveyards began overflowing (nice) someone had the bright idea of chucking all of the bones down into the tunnels. Literally. Originally it was a mess of skeletons, until Louis-Étienne Héricart de Thury had renovations done to turn the ossuaries into a visitable mausoleum - and so the neatly stacked catacombs we know today were born.
He saw it as a way of becoming used to death - a way of respecting it, and honestly it kind of works! The sheer amount of bones mean it’s not creepy. Their layout is designed to be non confrontational- some skulls are even laid out in the shape of a heart - so ultimately you become desensitised to your normal macabre associations with skulls and bones and can instead see them more as a memorial. It’s fair to say I loved it. Definitely check it out if you can!
Alex - Sutton Hoo
I decided to get away from Cambridge for the weekend to explore. One place I'd wanted to visit for ages and never got around to was Sutton Hoo (you can see the official National Trust info here). Turns out it's not that far away from us, just down the road in Suffolk. You can see it's location in the pic below I snapped whilst I was there.
It's a series of seventh-century burial bounds (that's about 1,400 years ago) that housed the remains of some important Anglo-Saxon folk.
"The people buried here left no written records, so it is impossible to know exactly who they were, but historians strongly suspect that Sutton Hoo was the cemetry for the royal dynasty of East Anglia, the Wuffingas, who claimed descent from the god Woden."
The helmet above is a reconstruction extrapolated from part's they found at the site but you can tell the chap who it belonged to was a bit of a big deal. There's also the fact that they dragged a 90 foot longboat to the site to bury him in!
"The most likely candidate for the man who belonged to this grave is King Raedwald, a great King of East Anglia, who won both renown, for his victory over the Kingdom of Northumbria, and criticism, for establishing an altar for Christ and an altar for the old gods side by side."
Aside from the big showpiece items (the above shield was also a reconstruction based on the found metal remains, the wood of course had perished) there were also some smaller items of interest. I found the belt and scabbard especially interesting in it's construction. You can see how the buckle is attached to the belt leather itself and how the scabbard is housed. Interestingly, the two corded beads were speculated to be some kind of communication device to broadcast whether you were peaceful or wanted a bit of a ruck!
It's these details of construction that I find especially interesting from a character art point of view, they are the touches that make all the difference between making a fantastical character feel real, grounded and tangible or feeling fake.
...I also ate this scotch egg.
...It was excellent.
On that bombshell we'll call it a day for this week's blog post. Hope you enjoyed a peak and some of our ref jaunts, some of it might not be directly relevant to what we're doing but it's excellent to build up a library of goodies. You never know when you might need them.
Until next time,
Tom & Alex