Thursday, 20 July 2017

Behold The Specklebeast...

Behold The Specklebeast

I have always loved what is often referred to as Celtic Artwork, but in fact spans a long period of history. I imagine the roots of the art form extend back to the enigmatic spirals and cup and ring markings left behind on the rocks and monuments by our Neolithic and Bronze Age ancerstors. These evocative carvings keep us endlessly intrigued as to their meanings, many of which can be speculated upon. Whatever these meanings may have been to their creators, their wildness and strange beauty has lasted the test of time, and still continues to resonate with many on some deeper, inner level.

Carved Kerbstone, Entrance to Newgrange Megalithic Passage Tomb, Ireland
Carved Kerbstone, Entrance to Newgrange Megalithic Passage Tomb, Ireland

The Badger Stone, Ilkley Moor, West Yorkshire
'Cup and Ring' Carvings, The Badger Stone, Ilkley Moor
The Iron Age tribes, sometimes known as Celts, developed these spirals and whorls into an intricate art that expressed their wild and childlike souls, their innate sense of humour and irony. Sometimes working animals, gods and humans into the mix, they covered their possessions and bodies with intricate and skilful detail, leaving behind for us, hints of their culture and mindsets.

Brentford sculpted metal Celtic Art wall plaque by Justbod
Based upon an Iron Age Chariot Fitting dated 100 BC - 50 AD

This language of knotwork and zoomorphic (meaning having or representing animal forms) found further expression in Anglo-Saxon and Viking/Norse artwork, so, even with obvious and distinctly separate forms, there still appears to me to be a continuity of expression, stretching back to a misty and unknown past.

Runestone Viking Art Wall Plaque by Justbod
Runestone by bod: based upon Viking Runestones in the Urnes style

When Christianity was established in the British Isles, the Celtic Monks wove their own versions of these amazing art forms into their beautifully illuminated manuscripts, a type of artwork now classified as 'Insular Art.' It is mostly examples from these stunningly crafted books that have become popularly associated with the idea of Celtic Art.

Detail of Chi Rho Page, Book of Kells, Wikimedia
Detail of Chi Rho Page, Book of Kells, Wikimedia

Specklebeast is based upon an engraved ring created in roughly the same time period as the great illuminated manuscripts such as the Book of Kells. The ring, made of engraved silver and silver gilt, was found in the Thames in 1856. It was made in England and dates from about 775-850. 

Silver Anglo-Saxon ring 775-850 Wikimedia Valerie McGlinchey
Silver Anglo-Saxon ring 775-850 Wikimedia Valerie McGlinchey 
CC BY-SA 2.0

Known as 'The Chelsea Ring,' as it was found in that area of the Thames, it is currently in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Read more about it on their website.

Specklebeast was originally created by me using a process of hand-sculpting metal, which was then inset into a hand-crafted solid oak plaque. It was available in either silver metal, or pure copper.

I then created a version in our popular 'Dark and Light' range of plaques - the design being hand-burnt, using a technique called pyrography, into a birch-wood panel then was then inset into a custom-made oak frame. There is another version available from our 'Pale and Interesting' page.

I loved both these versions but also wanted to create one expressing a sinuous and muscular Specklebeast, twisting and writhing within the circle. This was formed by sculpting an original in clay, which was then used as a master to create a mold from which cold-cast bronze and aluminum copies have been made. These are then inset into a custom-made solid oak wall plaque 16 cm²

Behold The Specklebeast....

Specklebeast AngloSaxon Celtic Art Wall Plaque
Specklebeast In Silver, set in Oak

Specklebeast AngloSaxon Celtic Art Wall Plaque
Specklebeast in Bronze or Silver

Visit our Creatures Page to meet all of our wee beasties.... 

Thanks for reading!


Justbod Team

Unique and Unusual Gifts
~inspired by a love of history and nature~

Justbod - Unique and Unusual Gifts inspired by a love of history and nature


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Sources and Further Information:

Anglo-Saxon Art: Wikipedia
Celtic Art: Wikipedia
Norse / Viking Art: Wikipedia
Insular Art: Wikipedia

The Chelsea Ring: Victoria and Albert Museum
Brentford: An Example of Early British Celtic Art