Thou hadst little wit in thy bald crown, when thou gavest thy golden one away


An Iron Age headdress from the British Museum. With a human skull.

Speaking of crowns…I saw this artifact while visiting the British Museum over winter break, but I couldn’t get a good picture. I found one while revisiting Iron Age England research just now, and I found out that this crown was discovered WITH A HUMAN SKULL.

Okay, they aren’t positive that it was a crown per say. But it was a headdress of sorts. It was found with the head of a warrior, buried with his sword and shield. According to the British Museum, the bronze band “is decorated with La Tène-style patterns. The metal was worn directly on the head and not padded or strengthened with leather; when found impressions of human hair were left in the corrosion on the inner surface.

“Also found in the grave were: an iron sword with bronze scabbard fittings and suspension rings for holding the sword on a belt; bronze parts from a wooden shield, and a bronze brooch decorated with applied coral studs.

“No other head dresses from Iron Age Europe have been found in a grave….Were these Iron Age ‘crowns’ also only worn by priests (druids) in the Iron Age? If so, was this person a warrior and a priest?”

I talked in my last post about what Lear’s crown of weeds looks like. But this is another prop to consider: his royal crown. He says to his sons-in-laws in the first scene, after banishing Kent and Cordelia: “Only we still retain/ The name, and all the additions to a king;/ The sway, revenue, execution of the rest,/ Beloved sons, be yours: which to confirm,/ This coronet part betwixt you” (I.i.151). Is he talking about his crown? The crown meant for Cordelia? Does he literally break it in half? If it was his crown, what does it look like? Does he wear a crown after this scene at all now that he’s given up his land?

We have a lot of decisions to make — some of which we’ve already figured out — but the main point is that Lear’s crown is significant. It’s a symbol of power, so it’s important to consider what it looks like and how characters interact with it.

Who knows? Maybe it looks something like this poor warrior’s headdress.


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