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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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House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha
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'We often discover what will do by finding out what will not do; and probably he who never made a mistake never made a discovery.'
Samuel Smiles (1812-1904), author of «Self-Help», summing up a common Victorian attitude


House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha


QUEEN VICTORIA - WHO REIGNED from her teens until her 80s - gave her name to an age of rapid and far-reaching change. Victorian Britain was a society in flux: the nation's wealth was increasing; its power and prestige reached a peak; new technology and social thinking radically altered the economy, the landscape and the everyday lives of the queen's people.

Victoria's 64-year reign was the age of the railway and steamship; of factories and coal mines; of trades unions and women's emancipation; of discoveries in science and in the wilder lands of the British Empire, whose expanding frontiers made it the greatest the world had yet seen.

This era of enterprise was locked into the 'self-help' values of the time. Charles Darwin's evolutionary theories may have rocked the foundations of science and challenged traditional beliefs, but they fitted the instincts driving a nation undergoing commercial and industrial revolution. The monarchy - unpopular and unstable in 1837 - had been strengthened by the time Victoria died in 1901, despite so many upheavals in society. Remodelled to suit the new age, the royal family had itself evolved to become a mirror of the times.

ISLAND IDYLL
For Victoria and Albert, Osborne House on the Isle of Wight provided privacy, seaside holidays and domestic idyll. The queens 'dear little home' was purchased in 1845, and rebuilt to resemble an Italian-style villa.

House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha



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