Egyptian Exhibition opens at Lord Carnarvon’s Highclere Castle

Lord Carnarvon, the man who funded the discovery of KV-62 – the tomb of Tutankhamun – and died five months later in mysterious circumstances before he could actually see the mummy’s face, was a superstitious man who wore the same lucky bow tie all his life. Such anecdotes are part of the ‘Egyptian Exhibition’ at Highclere Castle.

Rising in the Berkshire Hampshire countryside south of Newbury, England, the castle kept many secrets on its own. As the old Earl did not want to talk about Egypt, the collection was hidden away until 1987. But the long-hidden collection of Egyptian antiquities is now presented in its full glory – bigger room, better lighting, new cabinets – in the cellars of the castle, along with hundreds of unpublished photographs taken by Lord Carnarvon between 1907 and 1914, photographs from the discovery in 1922 of the Tomb of Tutankhamun and letters, notes and drawings from Lord Carnarvon and Howard Carter. They were discovered two years ago in the family archives by Fiona, the Eighth Countess of Carnarvon who recently published ‘Egypt at Highclere’ and has also written ‘Carnarvon & Carter’.

“These pictures reveal the enormous scale of excavations that Lord Carnarvon and Carter carried in the decade before their most sensational finding. They tell the story of two amazing men, who have never been fully recognized in England for the discovery they have made,” the Countess of Carnarvon told Discovery Channel News.

Among the antiquities on display, are a splendid 3,500-year-old painted coffin of a woman named Irtyru, from Deir el-Bahri, a calcite shabti showing the head of Amenhotep III, silver bracelets from the Delta, faience bowls, a 5,000-year-old calcite dish used in priestly offerings, coffin faces carved in wood and alabaster vessels found at the entrance to the tomb of King Merneptah, the son of Ramesses II and the razor that caused the Fifth Earl of Carnarvon’s death.

Does the Highclere castle looks strangely familiar to you? Don’t worry, this could be perfectly normal, as the castle’s front was used for exteriors of the orgy scenes in the Stanley Kubrick film Eyes Wide Shut. We do advise to adhere the rules of proper and decent behaviour when visiting! 😉

Highclere Castle, it’s Grounds, Gardens and the Egyptian Exhibition are open Sunday to Thursday each week the 3rd of September 2009. From 11am until 4.30pm. Last admission is at 3.30pm.

Curious for images from the exhibition? Discovery News has a video interview with the Eight Earl of Carnavon showing parts of the exhibition.