Napoleonic POWs Amazing Art

Near Peterborough was the Norman Cross Depot, Britain’s first Prisoner of War Camp for French prisoners. Some years ago a rooster made of bone from this camp was featured in a major exhibition of British Folk Art. It was impressive, but it is only one of many fine pieces made of bones left from their food, or from coloured straw, both carefully crafted and I am still surprised so many seem to have been allowed to use sharp objects. The work they made helped them pass the time and also were sold for extra money so they could supplement their meagre allowances.

They are all only a few inches high, so the detail is fantastic. How can this be classed as mere folk art? If they were made from ivory or precious metals, they would be worth a fortune. They also raise questions as to who made them. The artisans must have seen these objects in real life, so they must have been specialists before the war.

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