Lost Beatrix Potter Children's Story Uncovered
An illustration from Beatrix Potter's "The Tale of Timmy Tiptoes, 1911."
Oct. 12, 2012
-- It might look like just an ordinary picture of Stonehenge, but this is how the creators of the prehistoric monument wanted the site to be viewed, according to research using the latest 3D laser scanning technology. The groundbreaking analysis determined that the prehistoric monument was built to show off the solstices. In this view Stonehenge would look best when approaching from the Avenue, its ancient processional way to the north east.
Commissioned by the English Heritage, the laser-scan survey revealed in unprecedented detail the efforts made by prehistoric people at Stonehenge. "The result of the project were beyond all expectations. The investigation identified traces of stone working on virtually every stone," Marcus Abbott, head of geomatics and visualization at ArcHeritage, Hugo Anderson-Whymark, an Oxford-based expert on ancient worked stone, and colleagues wrote in the English Heritage report.
The laser-equipped researchers investigated the entire site. The laser scanner collected data with a resolution of 1 mm across the entire stone circle, and of just 0.5 mm for four stone surfaces of special interest. More than 700 surface features came to light.
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The laser highlighted prehistoric carvings from 4,500 years ago as well as damage made by modern visitors. Along with modern graffiti, this image shows scores of little axe heads and a possible dagger added when the slabs were already 1,000 years old.
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Overall, the laser scanning revealed 71 new Bronze Age axe heads, which bring the number of this type of carvings known at Stonehenge to 115.
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But the most interesting findings came from analysis of the stone surfaces. The study showed that the techniques and amounts of labor used varied from stone to stone. According to the researchers, these variations provide almost definitive proof that it was the intent of Stonehenge's builders to align the monument with the two solstices along a north-east/south-west axis. Indeed, the extremely straight and neat outline of the Great Trilithon, compared with all the other trilithons, shows that Stonehenge creators made deliberate efforts to shape it more carefully due to its special position on the solstice axis, just as they did for other stones that flank this axis.
The laser scanning showed that sides of the stones that flanked the solstice axis were most carefully worked to form very straight and narrow rectangular slots. To make them glisten in the sunlight, some stones had their crusts removed. These stones include two of the north-east facing sarsens in the outer circle, the Great Trilithon in the inner sarsen horseshoe, and an isolated upright stone in the south-west segment of the outer circle. By contrast, the stones in the south-western segment of the circle did not have their crusts removed.
The specially smoothed slabs created a dazzling light effect when the sun rays hit the stones. They would glisten in the dawn light on the longest day of the year and at sunset on the shortest This drawing shows Stonehenge in about 2300 B.C., after the construction of the sarsen outer circle and trilithons. Note the solstice axis.
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A newly discovered story written more than a century ago by the cherished British children’s author Beatrix Potter will be published in September, Penguin Random House announced Tuesday.
“The Tale of Kitty-In-Boots”, a story about a black cat that leads a double life, was found two years ago by Penguin Random House publisher Jo Hanks.
Potter is best known for “The Tale of Peter Rabbit,” which has sold 45 million copies and been translated into 36 languages. The publication of the newly-uncovered tale forms part of this year’s celebrations marking the 150th anniversary of her birth.
Hanks found a reference to the story in an out-of-print literary history of the author.
Hanks delved into the Potter archives held at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and discovered the 1914 manuscript.
“Potter fully intended to publish it. She’d written it twice, rewritten it, polished the manuscript and then had it typeset and started to lay it out in a proof dummy,” Hanks told BBC radio.
The next stage would have been to illustrate it.
“Then World War I began, she got married and she was very intent on building her farming business. Those interruptions took over and meant she never went back to the tale,” said Hanks.
“I think it’s the best of Beatrix Potter. There’s humor, there’s rebellious characters. During the story we meet a couple of interesting villains.”
An older Peter Rabbit makes an appearance, while old favorite Mrs Tiggywinkle the hedgehog also turns up.
“Once upon a time there was a serious, well-behaved young black cat,” the story begins. “It belonged to a kind old lady who assured me that no other cat could compare with Kitty.”
The book will be illustrated by Quentin Blake, best known for his work on Roald Dahl’s children’s books.
Blake said: “It seemed almost incredible when, early in 2015, I was sent the manuscript of a story by Beatrix Potter, one which had lain unpublished for a hundred years and which, with the exception of a single drawing, she had never illustrated.”
The Royal Mint is producing a special 50 pence coin this year marking the 150th anniversary of Potter’s birth. The seven-sided cupro-nickel coin shows Peter Rabbit.