C17th Furniture Symbols

Why are there so many Ancient Symbols decorating 17thC Oak, Jacobean Furniture?

By Giles from Giles Pearson Antique Restoration

Giles is our resident Scottish vernacular furniture expert. Pop in and see him - he's always got a story to tell about his latest finds. Here's one of them..

C17th Furniture Symbols

Why are there so many Ancient Symbols decorating 17thC Oak , Jacobean Furniture?

Beginning at the last mini Ice Age, "The Younger Dryas, {alpine plant} or, The Loch Lomond re-advance", scientists think caused by a Comet strike on the Earth,; the Ice would have lasted a 1000 years back to 8000 BC and the Mesolithic period.
There are Petroglyphs, rock carvings, legends and myths in many Ancient Civilisations, Sumerian 4000 BC, Egyptian-Persian 3000BC, Mayan2000BC, Greek 700 BC, Vikings 700 AD, where many symbols and beliefs are very similar, indicating Astronomical derivation, and communication by Boat and Sea.
Finding hard evidence is very difficult , even Archaeological evidence, eg, in the Shetland Islands during the Mesolithic {8000 BC}, any evidence of life beside the sea would now be under water, as the western edge of the Tectonic Plate Shetland sits on, sinks by a metre every 1000 years.
Approaching the Iron Age {700BC}, from the Bronze Age {3000BC}, through the above civilisations, a mixture of mathematical and mythical shapes were devised, wether Euclid, {Greek Father of Geometry}, Pythagorus- mathematics, the closer History gets to the 1stC AD, the more scientists and academics started  to fear for their lives, wether imprisonment or persecution, as their professions were in direct conflict with the world wide beginnings of various Religions.
Science since the 17thC is the New Beginning, or re-opening of the door that inspired Charles 11, in 1660 to appoint John Flansteed as the first Royal Astronomer,, followed by Edmund Halley who mapped the Southern Skys.
Suddenly it became fashionable or allowable to use these once forbidden ideas and carve them onto the Furniture of the day, thereby explaining the connection or "time-lag" between the Iron Age and the 17thC.
The following carved wooden shapes and symbols reflect an amazing History, and there is a suggestion that ideas of Space, origins of Life etc were deliberately hidden in wood carvings, to hide the alternative view of Academics and scientists.


Clock Spandrels, [an architectural term to describe corner supports in doorways,} as in the Clock Face, where they are used decoratively , cast in Brass, depicting four images of the Persian Sun God ,' Mithra' ,
Mithra symbolising the telling of time devised first by the Sumerians,{4000BC} and later independently by the Mayans,{2000BC} which is of course " The Sun Dial"
Mithras is associated with the Sun and Moon who chase each other around the sky until they eclipse one another,..


Either side of the top rail, are two opposing S shapes, where at the top scroll, it runs counter clockwise, and the bottom scroll , clockwise.
Turns out this is a disputed idea even today, and is known as the "Coriolis Effect", When in the Northern Hemisphere, water drains counter clockwise, and in the Southern, clockwise, this is believed to do with the Earths Magnetic field and the "Tilt" in space, incidentally, now at 23.5 degrees, not long ago 24.1, and today Magnetic North is shifting rapidly towards Siberia from Canada at 25 miles a year!
The top rail appears to be a Dragon or Serpent, which is one of the oldest and widespread  mythological symbols in the Ancient World, with numerous connotations and meanings,. In this case it could be to do with the National Welsh Flag, "The Pen-dragon" or {Dragon warrior}
In the past, animals, fictional and real have been associated with Kings, Power, Energy and Spirit.
The Serpent or snake, {Cobra} and Dragon are devised from Star patterns and shapes, like the Zodiac, also, i think the Energy was inspired by the Suns Rays, {Physics}, empowering both the Animal and People.
The Egyptian symbol for Infinity , was a Snake holding its tail in its mouth," A Round Shape"
The Egyptian Kings had a Cobra in their headdress,
The Vikings had a Dragon carved onto the bow of their boats,
In English Myth , George killed the Dragon,
The Romans used the Eagle as a figure head, as did later, the Germans in WW11.
The Scottish hallmark on Silver items have a "Lion Rampant" {on hind legs roaring}
Very interesting Ancient Symbols still in evidence today.


Oak Settle , Cumbrian in origin, with carved initials and date for newly married couple. My thoughts are , that the Settle predates the Marriage , as the carving is much boulder , less worn , than the surrounding "Cup and Ring" or Sun carvings, i would date this as early 17thC or even 16thC.
12 Suns along the back top rail, representing twelve months of the year, twelve constellations of the Zodiac, or even Jesus twelve disciples,..
There are twelve days of Xmas, which comes from the Celts' 700AD, period, who believed the Sun stood still in the sky for twelve days from the winter equinox December 21st though to January 2nd, . On the 21st they lit a log cut from Yew wood, and kept it alight until the 2nd, hence " The Yule Tide Log"


This particular Ancient  broken Standing Stone, complete with "Cup and Ring " Petroglyph",  is  set at an angle to be in line at both the Spring and Autumn Equinox, 
30.5 Degrees on March 21st and again on September 21st as the Sun rises in the East.
Standing Stones set alone  in particular geographic locations, i believe are "sign posts" and nothing to do with Stone Circles.
The one featured is purely designed to tell you when the seasons change.
Archaeologists  will be knocking on my door, so had better stop, but surely  one doesn't need too much imagination ,to realise that the  Cup and Ring Symbolises The Sun?

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C17th Furniture Symbols

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  1. Fishing on the river is restricted to 2 rods per beat and is to be by fly only. All fishing is from the right bank. By arrangement with the neighbouring estate there is no left bank fishing on the Relugas Middle and Top beats.
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