Astrolabe

Rare Find Manifests in Ariadne's Lair?

By Keith McDonald

One of the most obscure of Knightmare's many clue objects has recently surfaced as a rare find.


Knightmare had its share of weird and wonderful clue objects. Perhaps the most obscure of all appeared in Series 6, when team five (Ben and co. from Salisbury) are asked to retrieve an astrolabe from Ariadne's lair.

They must brave the gauntlet and deliver the item to Captain Nemanor, who has been cursed never to leave his ship. The mariner describes the astrolabe as 'a navigational instrument'. "It measures the height in elevation of heavenly bodies", he says.

Knightmare Series 6 Team 5. Captain Nemanor addresses Ben from the steps of the ship.

Ben collects what appears to be a circular disc and delivers it back to Nemanor, who declares the find unforgettable and sends the dungeoneer off to the Caverns of Gore. Unforgettable, indeed.

Astrolabes enabled mariners to measure the height of the sun above the horizon at points of the day. This helped them to determine their location and direction.

Popular during the Renaissance, they were sometimes referred to as 'planispheres' (which were meant to be more advanced designs).

It transpired this week that there are only just over 100 catalogued in existence. The oldest was discovered just recently in a vessel called the Esmeralda. It dates to around 1500.

Scientists had suspected the find to be an astrolabe, but a team from the University of Warwick were able to prove it using a 3D scanner, which revealed markings at five-degree intervals.

A 3D scan of a recently-discovered astrolabe (an obscure clue item used in Knightmare) shows markings at five-degree intervals.

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For such a rare item to be showcased on a children's television show reaffirms how seriously Knightmare took its inquisitiveness and intellectual credibility.

While it is hoped that more astrolabes will now be verfied with the power of new technology, if any should be discovered nesting in cobwebs, we'll know who the culprit is.

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