Simon Schama to advise government on history curriculum

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This week it was announced that academic Simon Schama, presenter of the BBC Series A History of Britain, has agreed to advise the British government on an overhaul of the history curriculum. Education secretary Michael Gove has said that the move will ensure that no pupil leaves school without learning “narrative British history”.

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Oxford’s overflowing Bodleian Library has unveiled a new £26 million warehouse big enough to store eight million books and maps, with enough space to support the Bodleian for the next 20 years. The site, located near Swindon in Wiltshire, has 153 miles of shelving and will be used to store around six million books and more than 1.2 million maps. The library’s special collections will remain in Oxford.

In archaeology news, part of a 3,000-year-old statue of King Amenhotep III, thought to be the grandfather of King Tutankhamun, has been unearthed in Kom El-Hittan in the west bank of Luxor, Egypt. The four-foot-high red granite statue depicts the Egyptian pharaoh in his double crown, decorated with a sacred asp.

In Scotland, a lost flute concerto written by Vivaldi has been discovered at the National Archives of Scotland. Il Gran Mogol, belonging to a quartet of lost concertos, was discovered among the Marquesses of Lothian’s family papers at the archives in Edinburgh. The piece is almost complete but is missing the part for a second violin.

It’s been a busy week for auctioneers after the sale of items from Chatsworth House made £4.4 million on the first day of the three-day auction. The sale was organised after Chatsworth’s owner, the Duke of Devonshire, claimed the house’s stores were “absolutely choc-a-block” and needed clearing out. Nearly 1,500 people registered to bid at the much-anticipated auction.

Elsewhere, a painting by Liverpool-born artist George Stubbs is expected to fetch from £10–15 million at Sotheby’s in December. Brood Mares and Foals was painted in 1767 and has remained in the family of the Earl of Macclesfield since then.

In other auction news, a rare Roman helmet discovered near Kirkby back in May goes under the hammer today, and could sell for up to £300,000. Tullie House Museum in Carlisle has launched a campaign to keep the helmet in Cumbria and has collected public donations of £100,000.

Work on the site of Total’s Laggan-Tormore gas plant in the Shetland Isles has revealed the remains of a prehistoric house thought to be between four and five thousand years old. The walls of the structure include stone boulders and the house itself is between seven and eight metres wide. Pieces of pottery have also been discovered at the site.

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And finally, efforts are under way to save Hastings’ Victorian pier after 95 per cent of the landmark structure was destroyed by fire earlier this week. The pier, closed to the public since 2006, was originally opened in 1872 and was proclaimed by contemporaries as the “peerless pier” where Victorian holidaymakers could promenade or watch theatre and music at the grand pavilion. Two men have been arrested over the incident.