Notes Towards the Mythical Construction of Foxes is the first despatch from the Notional Research Group for Cultural Artefacts, ahead of the Feræ Naturæ exhibition at Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal, Jan – March, 2015.
The text is one of thirteen found in two newly discovered manuscripts from the Collingwood Collection at Abbot Hall. The subject of the texts is the historic persecution of animal life in old Cumberland and Westmorland, set against a series of mythological, folkloric and historical vignettes depicting animal veneration from pre-Roman times until the late Middle-Ages. A forthcoming volume published by Lakeland Arts, entitled UNINDEX Volume One will transcribe all thirteen texts and feature a series of artefact assemblages from the Museum of Lakeland Life and Industry and Kendal Museum that explore animal veneration in late medieval ‘plague-cults’.
According to the NRGCA, the Mythical Foxes text is itself a satire of historical attitudes towards ‘vermin’ such as the fox – it being composed from an 1898 article by H.S. Cowper, found in the Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society, which, among other things, describes the ‘barbarous’ fox screw: a device ‘which was used in the Lake District for screwing into a fox which had taken refuge in a borran or under a heap of stones’.