Mycenae evidently held great resonance for Monck.  He took a strenuous day-trip on horseback from Corinth to reach it.  The view from the citadel called forth his only extensive Greek quotation in the travel diaries, the opening of Euripides' Electra, evoking the great Trojan War expedition launched by Agamemnon.  Much later in his life, interest in that story led him to embark on a translation of Homer's Iliad.

Monck was also clearly impressed by the massive 'Cyclopean' (built by giants) architecture of Mycenae.  It is possible that its monumental austerity influenced aspects of the design of Belsay Hall.

Click on the drawings of the artefacts to find out more



Fragment of Mycenaean Pottery
1300-1200 BC
[Shefton Collection 679]

This fragment of pottery was found in the lower citadel at Tiryns, a palace site near to Mycenae. Looking from Mycenae citadel, Monck tried but failed to locate this site! The fragment is decorated with a charioteer, only the upper part of the figure, reins and chariot survive.

Athenian Red-Figure Amphora
c.440 BC
[Shefton Collection 55]


“Having looked at Nemea I wished Gropius a good day and rode on 2 hours to Mycenae. Having emerged out of the basin of Nemea you descend into...”
“Having looked at Nemea I wished Gropius a good day and rode on 2 hours to Mycenae. Having emerged out of the basin of Nemea you descend into a narrow dale between high mountains of coarse grey marble, with red earth mixed — a brook also — [...] then ascend to Mycenae. You have on your left hand the mountain side having scattered upon it enormous blocks of fine Brescia, some so regularly arranged as to appear like ruins of walls. On the hill before the Citadel of Mycenae, in its side, is a doorway leading into a round room, the roof arched conically — the door posts immense and all one piece — the lintel in two pieces, the outer about 4 feet broad, the inner 12 or 14 of my steps — both perhaps not less than 24 feet long. Within this room is another doorway leading into an inner chamber which is choaked up with earth. The dimensions of the stones are astonishing and they have been exquisitely cut. The Brescia I think is so like that upon the mountain sides 2 miles back by the road, that it must have been brought from there. Then I ascended to the Citadel of Mycenae which is an abrupt round rocky hill of great height, flat topped, between conical mountains 3 times as high as itself and parted from them by a very narrow ravine. The principal gate of the city remains, being a door such as that of the Treasury of Atreus, smaller, of the same Brescia, with a piece of very curious Egyptian-like sculpture above, and flanked by walls built in what is supposed the Cyclopian like fashion with immense blocks of stone, some I think over 8 feet cubed, with smaller stones here and there in the interstices of a different sort, so hard as not to be crushed by the great ones. I walked round the Citadel. Many pieces of the wall remain, in Cyclopian fashion but with smaller stones than those of the gateway or the treasury of Atreus. [...] I found another gate on the other side of the Citadel, smaller and without any sculptures. [...] Turning and looking from Mycenae you see Argos Castle on a high conical hill — “O ancient plain of the land of Argos and streams of Inachus, from where once, raising warfare with a thousand ships, Lord Agamemnon sailed against the land of Troy [Euripides Electra 1-3] with the Inachus a streamlet winding past it along the plain. Argos is about 7 miles distant from Mycenae and nearly the same perhaps from the sea. Between it and the sea the Lernaean Marsh — on the other side of the bay Nauplia with its double citadel on a high Cragg and part below - Tiryns lies between Nauplia and Mycenae, but from the latter I could not discover it. [...] Mycenae itself is quite uninhabited. We sat down to eat a little bread and drink of the water of Mycenae and then remounted our horses and rode back to Corinth.”

Click below to listen to this diary entry
of the 12th of October, 1805