About 400 years ago in the final years of Elizabeth I ‘s reign in England, Henry IV’s in France and Phillip II’s in Spain………someone dug out a gap between the stones of a much older wall and slid a little purse full of Spanish gold into the space. We know nothing of this individual or the events leading up to the purse and its precious contents being hidden. It lay in the wall until we started work at the end of 2014. What could so easily have been yet another dead rat emerged and the treasure spilled onto the earth floor. The last hands to have touched the purse were those of whoever concealed it.
•It was the time of the Wars of Religion
•Castillonnès was Catholic
•There are two walls covered in ‘graffiti’ of a similar period in another room
•Was the purse stolen, was it someones savings or could it have been a dowry?
•Why did no one retrieve the purse?
•Was the person who hid this in danger or frightened?
•What did this character look like? Was he/she more ‘Black Adder’ or ‘Baldrick’?
What we do know with absolute certainty is that we never expected or dreamed that we would find anything of such intrigue or value. It is simply unimaginable.
Gold is a fairly useless metal except for its beauty and men and women’s lust for it. However, there is something seductive and perhaps corrupt about it…..it’s easy to imagine all sorts of scenarios.
On the other hand the soft teal blue purse links us so very intimately with someone 400 years ago. Had we found an empty purse it is easy to imagine that it may have been popped into a drawer and left to disintegrate and eventually be disposed of? But the gold coins put the purse into context, although from a monetary point of view the purse has no value it transports us to another time, almost another world, it fires our imaginations.
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