Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Last London Day

On Monday we took our last group trip to London. We again started out early to make it through all the traffic in London and maximize the day. We started with the Tower of London. The weather was beautiful yet again and so we enjoyed time inside and outside the tower buildings. One of the most exciting things for many students was that this is where the Crown Jewels are housed. This includes crowns, scepters and other royal objects that are used during coronations and other formal occasions. The jewels themselves are exquisite, but along with them comes the stories and rich histories of the British monarchy. Unfortunately, but quite understandably, no photos were allowed. If you're at all interested though, it's worth doing a web search and you can see the extensive collection that makes up the Crown Jewels as it is quite impressive.
The Tower also has an elaborate display of armor worn by many past kings, including some especially notable individuals such as Henry VIII. There are also buildings where high profile prisoners were held in the tower. In one tower the prisoners created intricate "graffiti" which was actually a series of detailed stone carvings. These were created mainly during the 1500s and are all still preserved today.

After the Tower, we ate lunch nearby and then walked to the Tube to ride to the British Museum. The students read an article about the Rosetta Stone and were able to see this first. The Rosetta Stone was originally discovered in Egypt and had etchings in multiple languages. As such, it was one of the first bilingual texts ever discovered and helped us to decipher the meaning of Egyptian hieroglyphics. Though the Rosetta Stone has been housed at the British Museum for over 200 years, in recent years Egypt has called for it to be returned to them. The issue remains an international controversy.

The rest of the late afternoon and evening students were free to stay in London and explore on their own. Some stayed late and others headed back to Oxford early since now our days here are few.

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