Spooky mask discovered in wall
This object is not a book, but it’s just too special not to show you. It’s a 16th- or 17th-century “visard” or disguising mask from England, which was found in a most unusual place: buried inside a thick wall, where it was hidden to ward off evil (a common practice back then). Its use at the time is equally remarkable. According to one contemporary source it was worn by ladies who had to go out after dark. The mask gave them the appearance of the devil, scaring off any evil-doers:
Writes Phillip Stubbes in his 1583 Anatomie of Abuses: “When [ladies] use to ride abrod, they have invisories, or masks, visors made of velvet, wherwith they cover all their faces, having holes made in them against their eyes, whereout they look. So that if a man, that knew not their guise before, should chaunce to meet one of them, he would think hee met a monster or a devil; for face hee can see none, but two brode holes against her eyes with glasses in them”.
The mask was discovered in 2010 and still had its glass bead attached, which the wearer held in her mouth to keep the mask in place while pretending to be the devil. Spooky, yes, but also a most intriguing artifact from ancient times.
More details about this particular mask here (via @wynkenherself) and here (via @DerBuddler). The item was found in the Portable Antiquities Scheme website by @wynkenherself, whose tweet and link sparked this post. More information about visard masks in this blog. Added note (EK): the latter blog refers to Randle Holme, a 17th-century scholar, who claims the masks were (also?) used for protection from the sun.