Seeking the Hove Amber Cup
I live just a few hundred yards from the site of an ancient round barrow, where in 1856, workers removing the burial mound to create the new housing development of Palmeira Avenue, struck a solid oak coffin containing one of the most important prehistoric ceremonial cups ever found in the UK. Carved from a solid piece of Baltic amber 3250 years ago, it clearly belonged to a tribal chief, or someone of great importance. Sadly, it now seems rather forgotten locally.
At the end of 2016, sat around a winter fire circle in Stanmer Park nestling in the South Downs, under a cold, clear moonless night, I was telling the tale of the Amber Cup, this magical chalice that no one had heard of, yet right on their doorstep. This was the first event run by School of the Wild that I had attended and marked a big step out of the Dark Underworld where I’d been stuck battling demons of anxiety, dread, and exhaustion.
I set myself the goal to view the Amber Cup in Hove Museum. Finally, I went to visit it a year to the day I’d told its story around the fire, but the Cup eludes me still. Recently moved to Brighton Museum, it has yet to go on display there. My new goal then for 2019 is to view it. Meanwhile I shall make do with the outsized golden replica that now forms part of a mobile sculpture on Hove seafront at the end of my street.
I see the cup as my Holy Grail, my Golden Chalice, taking me on a journey of discovery through the Sussex landscape of whale-backed Downland, and the ancient forest of the High Weald, Coed Andred, (Ashdown Forest). Andred is a pagan Goddess of War, a version of the Morrigan, and invoked by the great Iceni tribal Queen Boudicca on the eve of battle before the Roman armies. Finally, a link has appeared to the Great Goddess in a landscape, which although rippling with soft curves and peaks of female form, appears on the surface to be male in its storytelling and mythology. Where are the ancient Sussex women, and keepers of the well? What has my journey been so far in my search for this Amber Holy Grail? Where is my search and journeys within the local landscape taking me?