James Balme and the Call of Cthulhu

Congratulations to archaeologist and freelance presenter James Balme for his recent discovery of a fascinating carved stone, which you can see here on his Twitter page. I must admit that I don’t have the faintest idea of what the carvings represent, while my first impressions were of the dreadful glyphs frequently mentioned in H.P. Lovecraft’s wonderful Cthulhu mythos.

If anyone has any information about this stone fragment, or any serious ideas about what the carvings represent, I’d be interested to hear them, while I’m sure James would particularly welcome any informed comment on this mysterious object.

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3 Responses to James Balme and the Call of Cthulhu

  1. Dr Dan H. says:

    For my money, that is simply decorative carving on something like a standing marker stone or a decorated cross, right from the early period when people weren’t quite sure whether they were pagan or christian. The thing with some of this sort of carving, and indeed with quite a few Roman mosaics (some of those in Fishbourne Palace being good examples) is that the workmanship isn’t quite up to the standards of the best exemplars of the art.

    This looks like one of these. The artist knew what he was trying to achieve, but couldn’t quite get it right, hence the distinctly disturbing form it takes.

    On the Fishbourne Palace mosaics

    look at the sea-horse figures. The nearer one is well executed, but the far one is distinctly amateurish. Look also at the decorative entwined bordering; the long bits are OK, but at the corners the artist couldn’t work out how to represent the entwined cords turning a corner so makes a bit of a mess of it.

    This carved stone would appear to be very much the same sort of thing, which is why it has survived. The artist tried, oh how he tried, but he cocked it up. Odds are whoever had that on display replaced it fairly quickly and buried it out of embarassment, hence the good state of preservation.

    Liked by 1 person

    • eternalidol says:

      Thanks for this, Dan, while it reminds me of some of the samian ware I encountered over the years. From memory, samian was prized red pottery made by Romans and the potter would often print or otherwise form a name on the bottom of the vessel, either his or her own, or else the name of whoever had commissioned the pot. I was fascinated to learn that native British potters tried to emulate this work and I remember seeing many instances where they’d put non-sensical squiggles in place of a name because they couldn’t write, but they thought it looked good.

      Now I think of it, I wonder if these were nonsensical after all, or if some other script was present, but as I don’t have access to any of these collections, I’ll never know. Finally for now, on the subject of synchronicity or whatever was at work, I remember a day when I was cleaning a lot of pot – includign samian – with a Brummie by the name of Martin. He found a samian base with the name MARTINUS and a few minutes later, I found one stamped with PRISCUS, which isn’t a million miles away from my surname. I also remember finding swastikas on Saxon pottery, but that’s another story.


  2. Diarmaid Walshe says:

    This stone is clearly a fake and the design is so badly done it it is not Saxon. Additionally James is not a Archaeologlist as claimed. The fact it has not been submited for examination by experts says a lot


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