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Monday 8 October 2018

What am I?


The small, unassuming stone is part of the Richmond Borough Art Collection’s ‘Burton Collection’ of personal effects and paintings once owned by the famous Victorian explorer, linguist and translator Sir Richard Burton (1821-1890).

Burton claimed it was a meteorite which he discovered in Mespotamia (a historical region in Western Asia) but is all as it seems?

Our Curator has been working with experts from the V&A and the Natural History Museum who have confirmed that the stone is not a meteorite! Instead, it is probably a sacred talisman made from quartz. The stone is inscribed with an unknown text which we believe may be Arabic in an early Kufic script. It could date from as early as the 7th century, be a crude copy from a coin inscription or perhaps be a faked trinket for unsuspecting tourists. As Burton was the master of disguise and myth, it may even be of his own making…

Come and see this mysterious object which is currently on display in our Collection Curiosities exhibition alongside more unusual pieces which have never been shown before.

You can read more about our discoveries here.