Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Roof tiles, pottery and animal remains -- oh, my!

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford, England is sponsoring an archeological dig on the site of New Place, where William Shaksper retired after presumably becoming bored with the life of a literary titan. Dr Paul Edmonson, head of learning and research at the trust, reported progress yesterday in a post titled "Digging the Dirt on Shakespeare" on the Blogging Shakespeare web log:
Finds so far include roof tiles, pottery and animal remains which suggest that New Place was at times a high status household, with venison, and salt and fresh water fish supplementing the diet of meat from cows, pigs, sheep, geese and chickens. Shakespeare was a wealthy and famous man by the time of his death in 1616; his daughter Susanna is known to have entertained Queen Henrietta Maria, wife of King Charles, at New Place in 1643. It is my hope that the Dig will help us understand more about Shakespeare’s own social status. In purchasing New Place, he was purchasing social cache; Sir Hugh Clopton who built it originally had gone on to become Lord Mayor of London. We might also be able to trace something of Shakespeare’s own renovations of the house (if indeed he made any) when he took up ownership in 1597.
It seems the reporter is inventing a little cachet, himself, since the queen's visit had nothing to do with "Shakespeare". In fact, Susanna's husband, John Hall, never once mentions the great poet and playwright -- his "wealthy and famous" father-in-law, William Shaksper -- in his extensive diaries.

The dig began last year and continues this season. Perhaps discovery of an iron-bound chest stuffed with manuscripts written in Shaksper's fluid hand is imminent.
Signatures at: http://politicworm.com/oxford-shakespeare/to-be-or-not-to-be-shakespeare/why-not-william/the-authorship-question-2/how-he-spelled-his-name/six-signatures/