This past weekend, an old work-friend of Pixie’s and mine visited Oxford. Pixie had planned a visit to Oxford Castle, as we had never done the tour. That turned out to be quite interesting. Our tour guide was dressed as Svein Forkbeard and he did a pretty credible Danish accent, too (though Pixie thought he sounded Irish). He proved to be a decent improviser, too. While our tour group were on the roof of the castle, surveying the Oxford skyline, a couple decided to head back down the steps. “Bye”, he shouted. He then looked at the rest of us and said “I still have the gift of sending people away.”
We stayed behind in the Crypt Of St George and lost the tour group, then checked out the prison display. After climbing the hill next to the castle for some photos, it was off to The King’s Arms for some lunch.
The Museum Of The History Of Science was next. We checked out the taxidermy exhibit (not as graphic as I expected) and the assortment of scientific instruments and other curios on display (an elephant tooth, a puffer fish, etc.). By chance, we happened to go by the Bodleian Library. In a room off of the quad, was a “Magical Books” exhibit. It turned out to be mainly fiction works, “Harry Potter” and that sort of thing. There were references to Aleister Crowley and John Dee‘s Enochian language tablet (which usually resides in the Museum Of The History Of Science).
The highlight of the exhibit were large alchemical scrolls by George Ripley, an English alchemical scholar. They are beautifully illustrated with fantastical creatures and eerie gothic lettering. The words may seem like nonsense, but if you have any knowledge of alchemy and the processes of alchemy, they will have some meaning for you. We wandered into the display with not much time to view, as the library was closing to the public. I quickly snapped some photos of the scrolls and the Beardsley drawing. Fascinating stuff – I hope to see the scrolls again sometime.