Lammas Window Display
We change our window display so that it co-ordinates with the Wheel of the Year. The next seasonal festival is: Lammas or Lughnasadh (1st August)
Lammas or Lughnasadh is one of the four cross quarter days celebrated by witches.
This ancient festival marks the point half way between the Summer Solstice and the Autumn Equinox.
It celebrates the first grain harvest and is named after the Celtic God Lugh.
The Anglo-Saxon name of this festival is Hlafmesse meaning “loaf-mass”.
On Lammas day in 1940 witches gathered in the New Forest to raise a “cone of power” to prevent Hitler’s troops invading England. The assembly included Gerald Gardner and Old Dorothy Clutterbuck and several other renowned witches,
Traditionally Lammas is celebrated by taking a spiral path to the summit of a Lammas hill such as Silbury Hill or Glastonbury Tor.
For Lammas, the stag’s antlers (in the main window display) have been decorated with straw art and corn dollies made for the Museum by Gillian Nott. If you like the look of these wonderful items, Gillian will be demonstrating how they are made outside the Museum on Saturday July 30th and Sunday July 31st. https://www.facebook.com/events/1239224209435996/
We cannot thank Gillian enough for this wonderful window display which is a complete joy to look at!
Straw or corn art was made around the time of the harvest perhaps as a way of saying thank-you for the crops.
When harvesting, farmers will often leave the last stand of corn as it contains the spirit of the crop. In some parts of the country this will be cut by ritually throwing sickles. The corn would then be used to decorate the farmhouse for “Harvest Home”, and be made into a corn dolly to protect the home and guarantee the crops for the next season.
THE CORNISH ‘NECK’ (photographed above)
The Cornish Neck differs from those made in other parts of the country in that it is tied, not spiral plaited. Full length stalks of wheat are stripped of their flags (leaves) and bunched together so that the bundle just under the ears of corn is the thickness of a goose’s neck. The Neck is then dressed with ribbons. Long ribbons criss-cross the length of the dolly. Two fringes of ribbons are added, one at the top so that it will cover the hand, and one at the bottom “to swirl out like a wumman’s skirt”. In the 1830s it was the women who reaped, and the Neck was decorated with poppies, cornflowers and betony. No ribbons then, they were far too costly. This design is from Ruan Minor, near The Lizard.
Gillian also made a series of Cornish corn dollies (they are so beautiful and so varied!) Here they are as they appear in the window display.
And here they are individually (names above, photos below).
Polperro Corn Dolly
Nancledra Corn Dolly
Truro Corn Dolly
More commonly made from a bearded wheat such as Emmer; this is made from Rye.
Polzeath Corn Dolly
Made of full length straw, stripped of its flags, with roughly plaited ‘arms’. Another design from Polzeath has three plaited arms, the three plaits representing the earth, the rain and the sun.