Search This Blog

Friday, 21 February 2014

Dorset Folklore 3- The Byzant

At first glance this exotic-looking object would seem more at home on the Indian sub-continent than in darkest Dorset. 
It is called the Byzant and formed the centrepiece of a ceremony of the same name. The Byzant ceremony dates back at least seven hundred years and took the form of an annual tribute to the Lord of the Manor of Gillingham for the use of his water supplies. Once a year the Mayor and townspeople made their way in a procession with the Byzant at their head to the water source. Here the Lord of the Manor would be presented with the Byzant as well as gifts of gloves, ale, wheaten bread and..vegetarians leave the room... a calf's head. Sadly, the ceremony was discontinued in the 1830s because've guessed it...the expense!
You can see the Byzant at the fascinating Gold Hill Museum, Shaftesbury

No comments:

Post a Comment