Jul 22 2014

Wild Rabbits lead to massive finds at Land’s End in Cornwall

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<b>Big Heritage at Land's End</b>

Big Heritage at Land’s End

Pic: Falmouth Packet

A day of digging by three expert archaeologists has unearthed more than 60 objects from a one-metre square excavation at Land’s End reports The Falmouth Packet. In February the wild rabbits at Land’s End accidentally uncovered a collection of flint scrapers and arrowheads while burrowing their warrens. This discovery prompted Land’s End to commission a thorough archaeological investigation of their land and now the finds discovered and compiled by Big Heritage UK have revealed some further startling results.

Evidence of an iron-age hill fort, a bronze-age barrow cemetery, a Neolithic passage grave and more, all compiled in the report, has been further compounded by a plethora of ancient objects unearthed in the course of a one day dig at the British landmark.

The Big Heritage team have now found Mesolithic stone hammers, arrow heads, scrapers and waste from a flint tool-making factory during their preliminary one-day excavation at the site.

Dean Paton, lead archaeologist for Big Heritage, said:

We discovered more prehistoric tools in just one square metre of Land’s End than in countless other sites combined. We’ve found about 60 flint tools and two stone hammers and they are stunningly beautiful. I’m lost for words – it almost sounds like something out of an Indiana Jones film.

In the present time, more than 400,000 visitors journey to Land’s End every year and these latest discoveries show people have actually been travelling to the westernmost point of Cornwall for 10,000 years or more.

Alice Reynolds, marketing manager for Land’s End, said:

We are delighted by these latest finds and very grateful to both Big Heritage and the Land’s End bunnies for helping us uncover our ancient history.

Read the full story on the Packet website.

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Jul 18 2014

An Excerpt From True Irish Ghost Stories By St. John D. Seymour and Harry L. Neligan (1914)

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Pic: Brothersoft

Banshees, and other Death-Warnings

Of all Irish ghosts, fairies, or bogies, the Banshee (sometimes called locally the "Bohēēntha" or "Bankēēntha") is the best known to the general public: indeed, cross-Channel visitors would class her with pigs, potatoes, and other fauna and flora of Ireland, and would expect her to make manifest her presence to them as being one of the sights of the country.

She is a spirit with a lengthy pedigree—how lengthy no man can say, as its roots go back into the dim, mysterious past.

The most famous Banshee of ancient times was that attached to the kingly house of O’Brien, Aibhill, who haunted the rock of Craglea above Killaloe, near the old palace of Kincora. In A.D. 1014 was fought the battle of Clontarf, from which the aged king, Brian Boru, knew that he would never come away alive, for the previous night Aibhill had appeared to him to tell him of his impending fate.

 The Banshee’s method of foretelling death in olden times differed from that adopted by her at the present day: now she wails and wrings her hands, as a general rule, but in the old Irish tales she is to be found washing human heads and limbs, or bloodstained clothes, till the water is all dyed with human blood—this would take place before a battle. So it would seem that in the course of centuries her attributes and characteristics have changed somewhat.

Very different descriptions are given of her personal appearance. Sometimes she is young and beautiful, sometimes old and of a fearsome appearance. One writer describes her as "a tall, thin woman with uncovered head, and long hair that floated round her shoulders, attired in something which seemed either a loose white cloak, or a sheet thrown hastily around her, uttering piercing cries." Another person, a coachman, saw her one evening sitting on a stile in the yard; she seemed to be a very small woman, with blue eyes, long light hair, and wearing a red cloak. Other descriptions will be found in this chapter. By the way, it does not seem to be true that the Banshee exclusively follows families of Irish descent, for the last incident had reference to the death of a member of a Co. Galway family English by name and origin. Continue Reading »

Originally posted 2009-07-04 08:08:00. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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Jul 18 2014

Alexander Carmichael and Deirdre of the Sorrows

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<b>‘Deirdre of the Sorrows’ by John Duncan, c. 1905.</b>

‘Deirdre of the Sorrows’ by John Duncan, c. 1905.

Pic: Uni. Glasgow

The Centre for Scottish and Celtic Studies at the University of Glasgow hosted a superb guest lecture about the origins of the oral tale based on ‘Deirdre of the Sorrows’ collected by that giant of Scottish folklore, Alexander Carmichael. He traveled the Highlands and Islands and recorded many tales, prayers and rituals recounted to him which have been preserved for us in the Carmina Gadelica. Back in May, the Centre reported on the lecture entitled ‘”An Ideal Wife?” Alexander Carmichael’s Deirdire & Revivalist ideals of beauty, dignity & death’ given by Dr Kate Louise Mathis from Aberystwyth University. They summarised the fascinating story of the tale’s origin and development as below:-

Alexander Carmichael’s rendition of the story of Deirdre first appears in the Transactions of the Gaelic Society of Inverness (1888/9) and is an adaptation of the tale collected by Carmichael from an elderly man, John MacNeill, from Barra in 1867. His version of Deirdre differed significantly from the one presented in Longes mac N-Uislenn (‘Exile of the Sons of Uisliu’) which dates back to c. 900 (or earlier) and is found in manuscripts including The Book of Leinster (begun c. 1160). The original Deirdre is characterised almost entirely by her passivity–she is a blank slate–and the story itself is concerned as much with the exile of Fergus as it is the deaths of the sons of Uisliu and Deirdre. Her passivity made her attractive as a ‘vehicle for reshaping’.

The seventeenth century Irish poet and historian Geoffrey Keating was the first to emphasise the romantic love of Naoise and Deirdre, making it the focus of the story. He also dissociated the exile of Fergus from the tragic deaths of the two protagonists.

By the nineteenth century, Deirdre had become an exemplar for tragedy and a touchstone for expressions of grief and mourning. By this stage she was the central female figure in Irish mythology and Longes mac N-Uislenn became ‘her story’. Writing in 1983, Alan Bruford commented:

[The story is] the death of the Sons of Uisliu, and it is only literate sentimentalists who see it as Deirdre’s story.

The Glenmasan manuscript, compiled c. 1500, also detaches Deirdre and the sons of Uisliu from Fergus, while expanding the careers of Naoise and his brothers in Scotland. Previously, the inclusion of Scotland in the story was vague at best, with no mention of place names or the name of the king who employed the sons of Uisliu. This suggests the (unknown) author of the Glenmasan manuscript was familiar with Scotland, particularly Argyll.

Carmichael’s version is similar to Keating but again embellished the exploits of the sons of Uisliu. He also expanded the sparse mention by John MacNeill of Fergus negotiating with the sons of Uisliu in Scotland with a twelve page interpolation of this episode. (This may have derived originally from the Glenmasan manuscript). Dr Mathis noted that the dignity of Deirdre in Carmichael’s text derives from his interference with the oral text provided by John MacNeill.

During the Celtic Revival (1880-1920) the character of Deirdre became ever more exaggerated as unparalleled in beauty and wisdom. W.B Yeats included Deirdre’s children in his version, claiming in a letter to Lady Gregory that…

…the children will improve the tale of Deirdre by giving one a better and fuller feeling of her married life in Scotland…[she] is the normal, compassionate, wise house-wife lifted into immortality by beauty and tragedy. Her feeling for her lover is the feeling of the house-wife for the man of the house.

William Sharp, writing under the pseudonym of Fiona MacLeod, made Deirdre semi-divine, made from ‘dusk and ivory’. In her version, Deirdre gives Naoise a yellow thistle as a sign of her love, which will become her shame should he reject her. Dr Mathis suggested this was a way of toning down Deirdre’s offering herself to Naoise, which often had her appear nude. MacLeod also tones down the gore-factor: instead of Deirdre drinking the blood from Naoise’s severed head she cleans the blood and kisses his lips. Furthermore, her own death is not recorded. Fiona MacLeod commented in the preface to ‘Deirdre and the Sons of Uisne’ (1903):

Children, and maids and youths…have had their loves deepened in love and devotion because of this tale of endurance noble to the end, and of patience so great that the heart aches at the thought of it.

Murray Pittock described neo-Jacobitism as representing ‘symbolic beauty, perfection and death’ and Dr Mathis suggested this could easily apply to Carmichael’s Deirdre.

Summary by Ross Crawford (PhD Researcher), original found at the Centre for Scottish and Celtic Studies

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Jul 10 2014

Doggerland – Britain’s lost ‘Atlantis’ has been found under the waves

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Drowned world: Scans show a mound discovered under the water near Orkney, which has been explored by divers

Drowned world: Scans show a mound discovered under the water near Orkney, which has been explored by divers

Pic: Daily Mail

Divers have found traces of an ancient land swallowed by the waves about 8,500 years ago reported the Daily Mail back in 2012. This land once stretched from Scotland to Denmark and seismic scan have revealed rivers, mountains and the scientists believe Doggerland, as it has become known after the Dogger Bank, had a population of tens of thousands of people and was a home to Mammoths as well as other giant animals. ‘Britain’s Atlantis’ – a hidden underwater world swallowed by the North Sea – has been discovered by divers working with science teams from the University of St Andrews. Doggerland, a huge area of dry land that stretched from Scotland to Denmark was slowly submerged by water between 18,000 BC and 5,500 BC. Divers from oil companies have found remains of a ‘drowned world’ with a population of tens of thousands – which might once have been the ‘real heartland’ of Europe.

A team of climatologists, archaeologists and geophysicists has now mapped the area using new data from oil companies – and revealed the full extent of a ‘lost land’ once roamed by mammoths.

The research suggests that the populations of these drowned lands could have been tens of thousands, living in an area that stretched from Northern Scotland across to Denmark and down the English Channel as far as the Channel Islands. The area was once the ‘real heartland’ of Europe and was hit by ‘a devastating tsunami’, the researchers claim. The wave was part of a larger process that submerged the low-lying area over the course of thousands of years.

Richard Bates of the University of St Andrews said:

‘The name was coined for Dogger Bank, but it applies to any of several periods when the North Sea was land. Around 20,000 years ago, there was a ‘maximum’ – although part of this area would have been covered with ice. When the ice melted, more land was revealed – but the sea level also rose.

Life in 'Doggerland' - the ancient kingdom once stretched from Scotland to Denmark and has been described as the 'real heart of Europe'

Life in ‘Doggerland’ – the ancient kingdom once stretched from Scotland to Denmark and has been described as the ‘real heart of Europe’

Pic: Daily Mail

‘Through a lot of new data from oil and gas companies, we’re able to give form to the landscape – and make sense of the mammoths found out there, and the reindeer. We’re able to understand the types of people who were there.

‘People seem to think rising sea levels are  a new thing – but it’s a cycle of Earth history that has happened many many times.’

Organised by Dr Richard Bates of the Department of Earth Sciences at St Andrews, the Drowned Landscapes exhibit reveals the human story behind Doggerland, a now submerged area of the North Sea that was once larger than many modern European countries.

‘We have now been able to model its flora and fauna, build up a picture of the ancient people that lived there and begin to understand some of the dramatic events that subsequently changed the land, including the sea rising and a devastating tsunami.’

The research project is a collaboration between St Andrews and the Universities of Aberdeen, Birmingham, Dundee and Wales Trinity St David. Rediscovering the land through pioneering scientific research, the research reveals a story of a dramatic past that featured massive climate change. The public exhibit brings back to life the Mesolithic populations of Doggerland through artefacts discovered deep within the sea bed.

A visualisation of how life in the now-submerged areas of Dogger Bank might have looked

A visualisation of how life in the now-submerged areas of Dogger Bank might have looked

Pic: Daily Mail

The research, a result of a painstaking 15 years of fieldwork around the murky waters of the UK, is one of the highlights of the London event.

The interactive display examines the lost landscape of Doggerland and includes artefacts from various times represented by the exhibit – from pieces of flint used by humans as tools to the animals that also inhabited these lands.

Using a combination of geophysical modelling of data obtained from oil and gas companies and direct evidence from material recovered from the seafloor, the research team was able to build up a reconstruction of the lost land.

The findings suggest a picture of a land with hills and valleys, large swamps and lakes with major rivers dissecting a convoluted coastline.

As the sea rose the hills would have become an isolated archipelago of low islands. By examining the fossil record – such as pollen grains, microfauna and macrofauna – the researchers can tell what kind of vegetation grew in Doggerland and what animals roamed there.

Using this information, they were able to build up a model of the ‘carrying capacity’ of the land and work out roughly how many humans could have lived there. The research team is currently investigating more evidence of human behaviour, including possible human burial sites, intriguing standing stones and a mass mammoth grave.

 

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2167731/Britains-Atlantis-North-sea–huge-undersea-kingdom-swamped-tsunami-5-500-years-ago.html#ixzz374DGxUiM
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

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Jul 01 2014

Celebrating the Celtic New Year

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Pic: (A3R) angelrravelor (A3R)
 In Great Britain nowadays most people celebrate by popping the cork of a bottle of champagne and toasting for luck during the coming year.  There is much kissing and arms are linked and ‘Auld Lang Syne’ is sung. But what are the folk customs that were celebrated going back into the mists of time. These customs and rituals could give us some clues as to how the New Year was actually celebrated. According to the Gregorian calendar, the start of each New Year in Great Britain is on January 1st.   January 1st was officially designated as New Year’s Day in 1752.  Other cultures and traditions celebrate New Year on a completely different day. 

  For example, in the Eastern Orthodox Church they celebrate New Year on 14th January, which is the 1st January in the Julian calendar.  Samhain as it means the summers end is the Celtic festival of greeting the new time. Samhain is basically the occasion of celebrating the summers end and the time to welcome the winter season. As per the Celtic beliefs it is the time when God comes near to earth and is therefore the New Year time to start afresh. November 1st is the Samhain day and has been traditionally known as the Irish (Celtic) New Year.

The Irish New Year & Samhain

The Irish New Year festival is known as Samhain which meant summer ends and was celebrated on 31 October. The festival has survived as Halloween.

It was at this time they hold their General Assembly. This was held in the out in the air parliament where the laws were renewed and accounts of events, details of births, deaths and marriages, were recorded.

This day was considered of great danger for it was when the spirits of the dead returned to earth. It was believed the spirits could do harm unless precautions were taken. The Celtic priests go into the woods on New Year’s Eve to gather bunches of mistletoe which they handed out to people to protect them from any harm. Also bonfires were lit to drive away evil forces. They also believed that it was safer to stay indoors as fairies were abroad on New Year’s Eve.

In Ireland the girls would go to bed with sprigs of mistletoe, or holly and ivy leaves under their pillows so they would go to bed dreaming of their future husbands.

Hogmany & First Footing

Up until the 1960’s, Hogmanay was a more important festival in Scotland than Christmas. On the day of Hogmanay, 31st December, traditionally the house would be cleaned throughout so that the New Year would be welcomed into a pristine, tidy home.  It is regarded as very bad luck to welcome the New Year into a dirty and untidy house!  Fireplaces would be swept out and scoured, and some families would read the ashes of the last fire of the year, to see what the New Year had in store for them.  The act of cleaning the house for New Year was known as the ‘Redding’.

The first stroke of the bells ringing in the New Year at midnight was known as The Bells, and this would hopefully bring the first of many ‘First Footers’ to visit the house.  The back door of the house would be opened to let the Old Year out. It is believed that the first male visitor to a home on New Year’s Day brings good luck.  Preferably the male visitor would be a young, handsome, dark-haired, healthy male.  The male visitor was supposed to bring gifts of money, bread or cake, coal or salt as these were considered lucky.  The bread and cake was to ensure that the household did not go hungry during the coming year, the coal was to ensure that the house would be warm throughout the year and the salt was said to bestow wealth, as salt used to be a rare and precious commodity.  A blond or red-headed man or a woman visiting the house first was a big no-no and was considered to bring bad luck.  This is because a dark-haired man in ancient times would have been regarded as a fellow Scotsman, and therefore to be deemed safe, whereas a fair haired or red headed man could have been a Viking and therefore potentially a dangerous enemy.

Welsh New Year Carnival

Like all the other European countries New Year brings the joy of welcoming a whole new time in Wales. The typical European culture clubbed with traditional beliefs and rituals make their presence felt in the matchless aura of Welsh New Year carnival. New Year in Wales is definitely the time to greet the forthcoming year and according to the deep traditional beliefs of the country New Year signifies the new life and optimism or a better morrow.

Feasting and amusement lace the Welsh New Year which is the time of suspending the farm works. Welsh New Year therefore symbolizes the more crop production in the coming year and this symbolization is further complemented with an age old tradition of placing a plough under the dining table of the house to signify the advent of winter and the suspension of farm works.

Welsh New Year begins with a festive mood and apart from refined dinner and amusement football matches, rabbit and squirrel hunting and with other flamboyant activities Wales greets the first day of the year with immense passion and romance.

Little Christmas on the Isle of Man

This was often called Little Christmas. Fiddlers would go from house to house to rouse the occupants with music, and their wives would follow the next day for payment, usually food or drink. The English tune ‘The Hunt is Up’ was a favourite.

Celebrating the New Year in the UK

People in Scotland still go ‘First Footing’ and go around visiting all the houses in the neighbourhood.  They probably take a bottle of whisky with them to offer neighbours a New Year dram.  In less prosperous times, the bottle would be stored on the mantelpiece and only opened on the stroke of midnight.  In the older times the villagers would drink something called a Het Pint.  The Het Pint is a mixture of ale mulled with nutmeg and whisky.   This fragrant, warm brew would be served from a copper kettle to any ‘first footer’ encountered during the celebrations.

New Year in Great Britain is also a time to make New Year Resolutions.  A New Year Resolution is a commitment to change a habit or engage in a healthier lifestyle.  Typical New Year Resolution’s include giving up smoking, losing weight, vowing to get fitter or saving money.  However, many of these resolutions, made in a flush of alcohol and partying, are not kept for very long and are apt to be repeated year after year!

So whether you go to London for the fireworks display on New Year’s Eve and then watch the parade on New Year’s Day or you are going from home to home with your bottle of whisky in a small Scottish home, you will find many different ways of bringing in the New Year in and around Great Britain – the Celtic Lands.

[Source] [Source] [Source] [Source]

Originally posted 2009-12-31 08:15:23. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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Jul 01 2014

Traditional Fairy Beliefs on the Isle of Man with Ronald Hutton


Traditional Fairy Beliefs
from ManxHeritage on Vimeo.

Watch and listen to this fantastic lecture given by the wonderful Prof. Ronald Hutton about the Fairy Folklore on the Isle of Man. As always, not only is the Prof. exceedingly entertaining to listen to, but his gives us some superb information about the Fae history of the Island as well its traditional folklore. He finally regales us with a personal tale to have you in stitches! Superb stuff!

In this lecture Professor Ronald Hutton looks at how the Isle of Man is famous as an island full of fairy traditions: in some ways it may be regarded as having the greatest concentration of them in the British Isles. It therefore seems a good place in which to address the question of what traditional fairy beliefs – those shared by ordinary people until recent times – actually were.

A fascinating evening at the Gaiety Theatre, Douglas
with Professor Ronald Hutton
Friday 14th January 2011

[Source]

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Originally posted 2013-02-07 06:54:57. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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Jul 01 2014

Haul of Roman coins dug up in field to earn finder a fortune

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<b>Clay Jar  full of Gold!</b>

Clay Jar full of Gold!

Pic: Daily Mail

Chef discovers largest ever hoard of Roman coins in a field! For 1,800 years the story of the ‘lost British emperor’ who defied ancient Rome has been merely a footnote in history books. Carausius’s audacious seizure of power and seven-year reign over Britain and much of Gaul have largely been forgotten. But thanks to the astonishing discovery of 52,000 Roman coins, new light is being shed on one of the most turbulent periods of our island story.

 

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Haul of Roman coins dug up in field to earn finder a fortune” was written by Steven Morris, for The Guardian on Thursday 22nd July 2010 15.04 UTC

Dave Crisp
Dave Crisp excavates part of the hoard of Roman coins he found in a pot in a field near Frome, Somerset. Photograph: Somerset County Council/PA

A metal detector enthusiast could share a £1m payout after finding one of Britain’s largest ever collections of Roman coins in a farmer’s field, it emerged today.

Dave Crisp, an NHS chef, was celebrating after a coroner ruled the find of 52,000 coins was treasure. It becomes the property of the crown and is bound to end up in a museum, but Crisp and the landowner will be rewarded once the hoard has been valued by an independent panel.

Crisp, 63, had spent more than 20 years hunting for buried treasure, with modest success. But he struck gold in April when he dug down a foot into the earth of a field near Frome, Somerset, and found a huge, well-preserved earthenware pot full of coins. Experts believe the coins had been deliberately buried in the third century as an offering to the gods by landowners hoping for favourable farming conditions.

Speaking after the hearing at East Somerset coroner’s court in Frome, grandfather-of-three Crisp said that he would continue with his hobby.

He said: “I’m over the moon. The money doesn’t really matter. Obviously it’s nice, but the significant thing for me is that I am the person who has made this discovery.

“I will keep working until I retire next year and will definitely continue with my hobby – you don’t just stop a hobby. I have no idea what I’ll spend the cash on. Maybe I’ll buy a new wok.

“People often compare metal detecting to trainspotting, or say it’s a bit geeky. Well, it just goes to show.”

The value of the hoard will not be known until it is examined in detail, but some experts have privately speculated it could run to hundreds of thousands of pounds and might even be worth up to £1m. The value will be split between Crisp and the landowner. Anna Booth, finds liaison officer for Somerset at the Portable Antiquities Scheme, said: “It will be fairly substantial, but how substantial, we don’t know.”

Over the years, Crisp, from Devizes, Wiltshire, has found coins, artefacts and jewellery of Celtic, Saxon, Victorian and Georgian origin. Earlier this year he found 62 coins scattered in the field near Frome, which he reported to the authorities, before returning for a second sweep. On 11 April, Crisp unearthed the haul of 52,503 coins.

Crisp told the coroner, Tony Williams, how he dug a foot beneath the surface after his metal detector emitted a “funny signal”. He dusted away the soil and found the pot full of treasure.

Crisp said: “I sat down and started to dig around and pulled out a bit of clay, which was attached to a pot. At first I found a coin, then another, then another. Then I realised what I had stumbled across and I literally stood up and shouted: ‘I have found a haul.’”

He alerted a finds liaison officer and a team of archaeologists was sent to study the site. Three days later they unearthed the pot, which was taken to the British Museum. It is thought to date from between AD253 and 293.

Crisp said: “Leaving it in the ground for the archaeologists to excavate was a very hard decision to take, but as it had been there for 1,800 years, I thought a few days more would not hurt. My family thought I was mad to walk away and leave it.”

Booth told the hearing the hoard was probably an offering to the gods for “favourable weather or good farming conditions”.

She said the pot was so heavy that whoever left it there did not intend to return to collect the contents.

Roger Bland, head of portable antiquities at the British Museum, said it was an extraordinary discovery. “It’s the largest hoard of coins that has even been found in a single pot,” he said. “In 1978, there was another find that was a little bit bigger but that was in two pots.

“We are at the beginning of understanding it properly. We have been able to wash and count all the coins and do a preliminary sort.”

He said most were bronze with about five silver coins that date back to the time of Emperor Carausius.

“He is not well known, this man,” said Bland. “He was a Roman commander who set himself up as emperor in Britain and ruled for seven years. To find such a big group of his coins will give us a lot of information about this episode in our nation’s history, which is not well understood.”

The Museum of Somerset is expected to try to raise the money to buy the coins to keep them in the county.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

Published via the Guardian News Feed plugin for WordPress.

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You can also now download a Celtic Myth Podshow App from the iTunes store. This is the most convenient and reliable way to access the Celtic Myth Podshow on your iPhone or iPod Touch. You’re always connected to the latest episode, and our App users have access to exclusive bonus content, just touch and play! To find out more visit the iTunes Store or our Description Page.

 

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You can now also find an Android version of the App which works identically to the iPhone version. You can find it on Amazon or by clicking the image to the right.

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Jun 14 2014

Bronze Age Sweat Lodge or Sauna Saved

Burnt Mound at Cruester
Pic: Shorewatch.co.uk
A Bronze Age structure thought to have been used as a sauna has been saved from destruction by the sea after a team of archaeologists moved the entire find to a safer location reports the Scotsman.com.

The building, which dates from between 1500BC and 1200BC, was unearthed on the Shetland island of Bressay eight years ago. It was found in the heart of the Burnt Mound at Cruester, a Bronze Age site on the coast of Bressay facing Lerwick.

But earlier in the summer of 2008, because of the increased threat of coastal erosion, local historians joined archaeologists to launch a campaign to save the building and to move it somewhere safer. A third of the mound had already been lost to sea erosion.

The central structure was carefully dismantled and each stone numbered before being moved to a site a mile way next to Bressay Heritage Centre. Continue Reading »

Originally posted 2009-05-23 12:06:57. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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Jun 14 2014

The mystery of the Fulacht Fiadh or Burnt Mound

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Reconstruction of a burnt mound being used as a sweat house

Reconstruction of a burnt mound being used as a sweat house

Pic: Irish Archaeology

Excavation started on the burnt mounds at Rathmore, Co. Wicklow back in 2012 reports the Irish Archaeology websiteBurnt mounds are a type of archaeological site whose defining characteristic is large quantities of heat shattered stone. These sites commonly date to the Bronze Age, although examples from the Neolithic through to the medieval period are known. Burnt mounds are also known as fulacht fiadh and have been primarily interpreted as cooking places. The term fulacht fian is found in the early Irish literature from at least the 9th century AD (Waddell 1998, 174) and refers to open-air cooking places in which a water filled pit was made in which to cook meat.

The early Irish literature also shows that the word fulacht is not only applied to a water filled pit for boiling meat but also to an outdoor cooking pit where meat was roasted on a spit or over an open fire (Kelly 1998, 337).

In the field extant burnt mounds are noted as low grassy mounds which can be circular or crescent shaped. Size varies from sites which are only a few metres in diameter to those which can be upwards of thirty metres. The usual location of burnt mounds is close to a water source, such as a stream or lake, or simply in low-lying boggy ground. Due to the extensive agricultural activity which much of Ireland has seen, burnt mounds are often ploughed-out and leave no trace on the ground surface. In this case if the land is topsoil stripped the remains of the burnt mound will be seen as a shallow deposit of heat shattered stones which lie within a charcoal rich black soil.

Pit for holding Water into which Hot Stones were placed

The general sequence of events observable at these sites is the digging of a pit or pits into the subsoil, which functioned as troughs for holding water, followed by the build up of heat shattered stones and the residues of fires. Sometimes hut sites were located beside the sites. Excavated troughs are generally found to be rectangular or sub-rectangular in shape. Some excavated troughs contained a timber lining to keep the sides from collapsing, or a clay lining, to keep the water in. A fire was set near to the trough upon which stone was heated and the heated stones were subsequently dropped into the water. 
A timber lined trough, Rathmore, Co. Wicklow

A timber lined trough, Rathmore, Co. Wicklow

Pic: Irish Archaeology

The resultant boiling water was then used for a variety of purposes. Once the water heating process was complete the trough was cleaned out and the stones were cast aside giving rise to the characteristic shaped mounds present in today’s landscape. The stones did not always shatter in the process and could be re-used.

As well as the occurrence of troughs and deposits of burnt stone, burnt mounds have another common characteristic – the use of certain types of stone. In general sedimentary rocks such as sandstone are very common and experiments have shown that sandstone can be heated and cooled around five times before splitting into unusable fragments (Buckley 1990, 171).

Different Theories on how Burnt Mounds were used

The most common explanation for the function of burnt mound sites is as cooking sites, although a number of other theories have been postulated to explain the nature of these sites. It has been demonstrated that they could have been covered by light structures and used as saunas or sweathouses such as that at Rathpatrick, Co. Waterford (Eogan & Shee Twohig 2012, 179). Industrial uses such as the washing or dyeing of cloths and hides have been postulated (Waddell 1998, 177), and it has also been argued that they were used to brew beer (Quinn & Moore 2009). What is clear is that large quantities of hot or boiling water were produced and the sites often had long periods of use as attested by the large mounds of stone. The absence of animal bone does not preclude cooking activities as carcasses may have been prepared elsewhere and brought to the site and, once the meat was cooked it may have been taken elsewhere to be eaten. The damp soil conditions associated with burnt mounds do not generally favour the preservation of animal bone.

Burnt mounds appear to have a long period of use in Ireland. Excavations at Clowanstown, Co. Meath, revealed the presence of five upstanding Neolithic burnt mounds (Archaeology Ireland, winter 2007, p.12), and examples are known from this period through to the medieval period, giving a span of use of some five thousand years.

Along with Colm Moriarty, the original  host of this news article, we’d like to thank Catherine McLoughlin for this excellent article on burnt mounds/fulacht fiadh. Catherine is joint owner of the well-known Wexford based archaeological company Stafford McLoughlin Ltd and she has over ten years experience as a licenced archaeologist.

References

Archaeology Ireland. Wordwell, Dublin.

Buckley, V. 1990 Burnt Offerings. Wordwell, Dublin.

Hore, P.H. 1900-1911 History of the Town and County of Wexford. London.

Eogan, J., & Shee Twohig, E. 2012 Cois tSiuire – Nine Thousand years of Human Activity in the Lower Suir Valley. NRA Scheme Monographs 8, Dublin.

Kelly, F. 1998 Early Irish Farming. Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies.

Quinn, B., & Moore, D. 2009 ‘Fulacht fiadh’ and the beer experiment’ in Stanley et al (eds) Dining & Dwelling. NRA Monograph Series No. 6, 43-53, NRA, Dublin.

Waddell, J., 1998 The Prehistoric Archaeology of Ireland, Galway University Press.

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Jun 04 2014

Gary’s Wibbles: 3D Development may be becoming much easier


Wireframe model (enlarge to see it textured)
Pic: Trinity3D.com

OK…

Well one of my dreams has been the possibility of re-telling the Celtic Myths visually by using the medium of 3D Animation. In fact, Ruth and I started our whole concept of re-telling of the myths by beginning to create an animated film. Story-boards were produced, scripts were started and not being used to patience, I made a start on creating the terrain for the opening shots of the film and then plotted a camera track, recorded some voice over and with some accompanying music began to put together the opening scenes of the film.

 It rapidly became apparent that after three and a half months, we had produced just under 2 minutes of film!!!!

Not only that, but I discovered animating tumbling rocks required a knowledge of physics that escaped me and those unlucky few who were subjugated to my attempts fell about laughing at these balloon like boulders careering unrealistically down the hill-side! Scrap that idea then… :)

So, the podcast was born and the rest, they say, is history..

However, the knowledge, love and desire to produce using my 3D design skills has remained with me, which is why I guess, I have occasionally produced Wallpapers for screen or phone.

In the Windmills of my mind

The myths are still very visual in my mind, and maybe that is why when it comes to editing the final audio podcasts I make an attempt at re-creating in a sound-picture what I can ‘see’ inside my head. Technology proceeds faster than we can keep up with it though, and now my mind si whirling with new possibilities.

You see, not only do we have the incredible shading, light and built-in hardware possibilities of today’s top-of-the-range Graphics Cards (OK, I admit still well out of my reach financially), but we have several Game editors that are designed to utilise these technological advances and have pre-scripted sequences or cut-aways, that would be ideal for using to clip together the scenes of a movie! Now you see the Windmills whirring furiously :)

Not only that, but for the purposes of development the editors are free. Well, I think 3 out of the 4 are. There is something called Unity that mixes well with much Open Source software (Blender being used as a 3D modelling tool) and I love Open Source, and then there is the Source Engine developed by Valve and using Havok physics. You can see this in operation in the latest Half-Life games. Although it was one of the first editors to make use of Ragdoll physics and was/still is groundbreaking in many areas, in terms of creating believable outside areas it relies upon the skills of the artist and trickery to try to re-create the outside world.

Unreal Development Kit (UDK)

Now, however, there are two very real contenders remaining for the title of King of the Hill when it comes to bringing you your mythological stories in movie format! The first has evolved out of the very successful Unreal series of games – the Unreal Development Kit.

Udkstudy_terrain

(https://plus.google.com/u/0/110838162887713508997/posts/gX3Etmk57SK)

As you can see, the terrain is quite simplistic but passable. There is a technical demo reel of an amazing scene showing jungle, rain, water trickling over rock surfaces and its all very exciting but I can imagine that it probably took a team of Unreal designers weeks to produce that demo, On the down-side, I have read frequently in forums, that the UDK is ideally suited to developing interiors (easy use of Phong shading) but you have to struggle to produce terrain, although it is well served by the community with documentation and tutorials.

The Tech Demo Reel looks pretty good though, especially the Realistic Foliage…

CryENGINE

Lastly, the choice that has really caught my eye in terms of terrain development is the latest incarnation of the Design Environment behind the Crysis series of games developed by the Crytek company. I remember playing the original FarCry and being blown away by the water, trees and shadows and things have come on so far since then!

Terrain_2

(http://www.incrysis.com/forums/viewtopic.php?id=31543)

The disadvantages are that the Engine is purportedly buggy, with many crashes, and has a very steep learning curve with only a growing developer community.

Last words?

Yes, I think the only option is to try both pieces of software. I’m still going to have to use traditional 3D design s/w to produce models and objects, still going to have to use serious art software for textures and still have the import/export pipeline to consider in the workflow. In addition, whilst productions made by the latter, and possibly the former, and free for non-commercial use – if we reach the stage where we wish to make something in addition for sale, then there are licensing considerations to be taken into account. If every single frame has been hand-crafted by myself – that ceases to become a financial problem. But then 3 months for 2 minutes of film?? Get serious, Gary! :)

Crysis

Mind you, those rocks and trees, soft ambient shadows and diffuse glows are very tempting… (sigh..)

Lastly, the very impressive CryEngine 2012 demo reel, including DX11 features not yet implemented.. :{

CryEngine_3_GDC_2012_Tech_Trailer_(Cam).mp4 Watch on Posterous

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You can now also find an Android version of the App which works identically to the iPhone version. You can find it on Handster at http://www.handster.com/celtic_myth.html or by using the QR code opposite. It’s als found on the Opera Marketplace as well as AppBrain in the US.

If you come to the site and listen or listen from one of our players – have you considered subscribing? It’s easy and you automatically get the episodes on your computer when they come out. If you’re unsure about the whole RSS/Subscribing thing take a look at our Help page.

Originally posted 2012-03-30 07:33:35. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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