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An Italian scholar has claimed that a painting hanging in Campion Hall at the University of Oxford was created by the great Renaissance painter Michelangelo and not Marcello Venusti as previously thought. The work, entitled Crucifixion With The Madonna, St John And Two Mourning Angels, was bought by Campion Hall at a Sotheby's auction in the 1930s and has hung in the hall ever since. According to Antonio Forcellino, infra-red technology has shown that only “Michelangelo could have painted such a masterpiece”; the painting has now been sent to the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford for safekeeping.
A decorative gold item thought to date to AD 800 has been unearthed at Bamburgh Castle in Northumberland during an archaeological dig. The piece of gold, which measures 1.4 cm, has yet to be identified but is decorated with tiny beads of gold and spiral patterns. Project director Graeme Young stated that in its day the piece was probably “probably worth the income of two or three peasants for a year.” The piece will go on show at the castle later this year.
A hoard of 21 silver denarii (small silver coins first minted in 211 BC) have been discovered during the excavation of a clay floor in a centurion’s apartment at Vindolanda Roman Fort on Hadrian’s Wall. The coins, which were probably buried in a purse or similar organic package that has now rotted away, were found tightly packed together and some of the coins had corroded onto one another. It is thought that the coins were deliberately buried and were perhaps the savings of someone who was unable to return to the site to collect the money. The hoard would have been equal to a tenth of a Roman soldier’s yearly salary.
Two experts working for Wessex Archaeology have claimed that the submerged sites of ancient communities could be hidden in the seas around the Western Isles, and believe the islands' lochs could hold 9,000-year-old Mesolithic relics. It is thought that a huge tsunami struck the north-east of Britain during the Mesolithic period, striking so hard that water travelled 25 miles inland, turning low-lying plains into what is now the North Sea, and marshlands to the south into the Channel. A number of significant finds have already been made on the coasts of the Western Isles, including the 12th-century Lewis Chessmen, which were found beneath a sand dune near Uig on the west coast of Lewis at some point before 1831.
Forty years after the discovery of an ancient three-barrel cannon at a fort in Croatia, experts have revealed that the weapon was a prototype designed by Leonardo Da Vinci. The Italian artist and inventor is famous for his weapons of war and other inventions, but until now the Da Vinci cannons displayed have been replicas. The triple-barrel cannon is thought to have been one of Da Vinci’s less successful designs and archaeologists believe it was probably brought to the Croatian area of Dalmatia from Venice. The cannon will now be displayed in Benkovac.
A 17th-century bust of Dr Peter Turner, an eminent physician and botanist, stolen from St Olave's church in London in April 1941 has been returned to its former home. It is believed the bust was looted from the church ruins during the Blitz but was recovered by a curator at the Museum of London in 2010. Dr Peter Turner himself is buried underneath the church.
Newly-declassified material dating back to the First World War has gone on show at the National Archives in Washington DC. One of the documents on display contains details of a German secret ink formula, revealing that the ink itself was made by mixing compressed or powdered aspirin with pure water. The formula, which is written in French and described in an Office of Naval Intelligence document from 1918, is evidence that the French managed to crack the German formula. Invisible ink was used by spies and allies during the war to send secret messages in safety.
The only major remaining Jane Austen manuscript has sold at auction for £993,250. The work, entitled The Watsons, is considered by experts to be the most important Jane Austen item to come to the market in over 20 years. It is thought that the piece was written in 1804 and was bought by an anonymous bidder.
Recently unearthed documents from insurance provider Aviva’s archives have revealed a catalogue of customers’ accident claims dating back to the 1860s. Among the list of claims is a bank clerk who slipped on orange peel. He was paid £156 in 1900 (modern equivalent: £8,901). Also noted is a merchant from Essex who was awarded £50 (modern equivalent: £2,994) in 1892 after injuring his eye throwing rice at a wedding, and an innkeeper from Handsworth, Birmingham, who took a poisonous potion after mistakening it for a sleeping medicine. He was paid £1000 in 1878 (modern equivalent: £48,310.