As our blog nears a year in existence I thought it was about time I introduced Ralph our mascot and face on our Gravatar.
This little pottery head with green glaze was found at Corfe Castle during the outer gatehouse excavations in 1987. He has a distinctive type of hat and maybe locally made from the white clays found around Poole Harbour. He came from with-in the demolition rubble from the civil war destruction of the castle in 1646, but is Medieval in date He has a pinched-out nose and applied and stabbed pads for the eyes, on his head he appears to wear a ‘coronet’ – a thin band circling the top of the head, decorated with impressed dots. Within the ‘coronet’, the hair is suggested by incised or combed lines. The head seems to have been made as a separate piece with a short, tapering ‘peg’ at the base for insertion into a vessel. The most likely interpretation is that this is part of an aquamanile, a water jug, a form of vessel often fashioned in anthropomorphic or zoomorphic shapes.
We ran a competition at one of our archaeology events at the castle and asked visitors to give him a name, Ralph came out as the most popular of all the suggestions. It is a very appropriate name, as it has links to the castle, it was Ralph Bankes who bequeathed the Castle and the Corfe Castle and Kingston Lacy estate to the National Trust in 1982 after 347 years in the hands of his family.