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Elizabeth I (1558-1603)

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Stone handaxe
THIS small handaxe is one of the most beautiful in the British Museum. It is made from quartz with attractive amethyst banding, a difficult material from which to make tools because it is extremely hard. The toolmaker would have had to hit with considerable force and accuracy to remove flakes. Such a high degree of difficulty makes the thin, symmetrical shape of this piece a masterpiece of the toolmakers’ art.
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New pigs (part one)
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The pigs of Britain continue to evolve, and in the commercial sector various imported breeds have made their mark in the continual quest for improvement. Ironically, pigs that are superficially (in colour) similar to some of the British rare breeds, and which originally owed their development to English pigs, have been brought over from the United States to improve the British gene pool. These American breeds include the red Duroc, the belted Hampshire and the semi-lop Chester White.

The Duroc, originally known as the Duroc-Jersey or simply the Red Hog, may or may not have had an infusion of red pigs from the African Guinea coast (quite possible in slave-trading days) or from Portuguese and Spanish pigs in the early days of colonisation, but the old Berkshire is another strong candidate for its colour (Tamworth blood was tried but apparently the results were so unsatisfactory that the offspring were 'discarded'). The modern Duroc ranges in colour from a light golden yellow through auburn to a dark mahogany red, with no colour markings, and it has a thick winter coat (though it can look almost bald in summer). Its ears droop forwards. The British Duroc has evolved since the 1980s and is used mainly as a female line to produce crossbreds for outdoor pig farms.

New pigs (part one)

Britain's ubiquitous Large White is increasingly being crossbred with imported American breeds.

The Hampshire, an important breed worldwide, is claimed to have originated from the Old English white-belted black hog. Importations into America in the late 1820s were said to have been via ports in the English county of Hampshire, hence the name; the type was also known as the McKay after the man who shipped them into the United States. Others suggest the type originated in the New Forest in Hampshire. The breed developed mainly in Kentucky, where it was known as the Thin- Rind and became very popular with butchers. In 1904 belted hogs with names as varied as Thin-Rind, McKay, McGee and Ring Middle were formally named the Hampshire. It was first imported into the United Kingdom in 1968 and there is now an established British Hampshire. The colouring and pattern are similar to that of the British Saddleback but the ears are erect rather than lop.

New pigs (part one)

The red American Duroc is one of the most numerous pig breeds in the world. The British Duroc, a useful terminal sire on Large White and Landrace sows, has been developed from the American breed, which was first imported into the UK from Canada in 1968 and later from the US and Denmark.

The Chester White's background seems to have included white pigs originally from Yorkshire and Lincolnshire bred from around 1818 to an imported white boar, said to be either a Bedfordshire or a Cumberland (two English counties with many miles between them). It is a good outdoor white pig with semi-lop ears.

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