Grisly interlude

Brief visit between matinee and evening theatre on Saturday to the renovated Museum of London, which has substituted a bright accessibility for its former mild eccentricity in many of its exhibits. This has long been one of my favorites, often visited with my grandfather over the last 19 years, although our boundless enthusiasm for the early exhibits (anything up to and including the Tudors, that is) always leaves us too exhausted for the modern artifacts.

Today my particular focus was the renovated pre-Roman and Roman gallery, where hundreds of grisly artifacts are illuminated by a soothing, antiseptic blue glow. Which is not to say that the mystery has been completely drained from these spearheads, bones, iron collars, and horned helmets (I'll admit I thought these last were a bit of Wagnerian folly, but there they are, the gigantic horns representing, unsurprisingly, "ferocity and virility" and "enhancing aggression").

Why, we have to ask ourselves, are there so very many human skulls being dredged out of the Thames? Why am I relieved that these heads date from the Roman colony, as if historical distance made the deaths less gory? The exhibit notes that the heads were originally thought to have been the result of Boudica's massacres (about which I desperately want to learn more) but it also introduces the possibility (or even probability) that they were deliberate offerings to the river. Shudder. The river must be mightily disatisfied with its trashy diet of the last 100 years.