Apr 23 2014

Grainne Uaile the Movie – The life of the 16th Century Irish Pirate Queen

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This summer “Grainne Uaile – The movie” will be released from its ship in Ireland and sailing the festival circuits. A 3 hour epic, written and directed by Ciaron Davies and starring Fionnuala Collins as the infamous pirate queen, the movie was shot on location all over Ireland, North and south.

A violent and gritty retelling of the life of Grainne Uaile, the 16th century Pirate Queen from Ireland. She was a fighter, a pirate and a tough woman, carving her mark in a man’s world. This exciting film is violent, dark, brutal, exciting and often darkly comic. The ultimate female action hero steeped in ancient Irish history.

“Grainne Uaile-The movie”, is an epic historical adventure based on the real life of 16th Century Irish Pirate queen, Grainne Uaile. It is a savage, brutal and gritty film exploring the life of this extraordinary women, who made a huge impact in the ‘16th century man’s world’ and also left a large imprint in Irish and world wide history, her name became infamous, and her life the stuff of legends. It follows her life from her early childhood, her youthful years as a clansman’s wife, her subsequent career in piracy, politics, intrigue, double dealings, her fight against the powers of the English state and her famous meeting with Queen Elizabeth.
Grainne Uaile on Ship

Grainne Uaile on Ship


Pic: Loose Gripp Films
The Villains of the Piece!

The Villains of the Piece!

Pic: Loose Gripp Films

Often violent, intense, with moments of dark comedy, Grainne Uaile has the look of a ‘moving Caravaggio painting’. The fighting is closer then any other film you will see, fast paced and fierce. We wanted to create battle sequences where the audience feels involved. Grainne, her self is presented as a very strong women, fiercer then the men around her, played beautifully by Fionnuala Collins, who exudes a mixture of charisma, style and intensity.

It also stars Peter Cosgrove, Robin Twist, Leonard G. Tone and Ciaron Davies.

Grainne Uaile

Grainne Uaile


Pic: Loose Gripp Films
We wanted to make a movie like the old epics of times gone by, brimming with story, life and characters. It was also important that all the actors performed their own stunts and sword fights. The battles them selves are often elaborate and full of tension. Filming was gruelling for the actors and daily shooting was tough and physically demanding.

Grainne Uaile – the movie is a roller coaster of a ride, set against the rich and complex tapestry of 16th century Ireland, and spanning 70 years of intrigue, drama and violence on both land and sea.

The pirate queen her self, is a tough, highly intelligent and hard woman, one of the toughest we have scene in cinema. Her enemies are equally as tough and her nemesis, Richard Bingham is a suitably twisted villain, somewhere between Genghis Khan and Hannibal Lector.

Thrown into the mix is an incredibly diverse and interesting set of characters who will make you laugh and cry in equal measures. Grainne and her crew of pirates will fight their way through hordes of English villains, whilst her keen wit and mind plots the demise of their foes and keeps their ship afloat in a sea treachery and skulduggery. Grainne Uaile – The Movie will be released this summer.
Riding into the History Books

Riding into the History Books


Pic: Loose Gripp Films

Find out more on their Facebook page and visit the Loose Gripp studios website to find out more about the Studio making the film or see the details on IMDB. Also keep your eyes peeled on the Grainne Uaile website where exciting things are soon to be revealed!

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Apr 19 2014

Largest Living History re-enactment ever in Ireland for the Battle of Clontarf

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Brian Boru of Clontarf Festival

Brian Boru of Clontarf Festival

Pic: Brian Boru Millenium

Dublin City Council proposes to stage the largest Viking village and living history battle re-enactment ever produced in Ireland. The Viking village will contain static and interactive displays of Viking life and include demonstrations of Viking Skills and Crafts such as weapons displays , storytelling, Blacksmith, Leather working, Pole Lathe, Coin Striking, Silversmith, Hnefatafl (Viking Chess), Archery Display and Viking Long Boat, Falconry Displays & Mounted Viking Displays.

For Event Details see below….

Brian Bóraime [Brian Boru] (c.941–1014)

Brian Boru is the most famous Irishman before the modern era who, from fairly modest beginnings, rose to be king of Ireland, dying a heroic death at the battle of Clontarf on 23 April 1014.He got his nickname Boru from the Old Irish bóruma, ‘of the cattle tribute’, or more likely ‘of Bél Bóraime’, a ringfort near Killaloe, Co. Clare where he had a royal residence. He was born about 941, at or near Killaloe, one of the twelve sons of Cennétig (d. 951), king of Dál Cais.The earlier history of Dál Cais is obscure but under Brian’s father and older brother Mathgamain the family grew rapidly in importance and by 967 Mathgamain was described as king of Cashel (i.e., Munster), the first member of Dál Cais to win the title, and perhaps the first king of the province in five centuries who didn’t belong to the great dynasty called the Eóganachta.

In 1011, Brian’s army marched north again and forced the one remaining independent power in the land, the king of Cenél Conaill in Donegal, to become his vassal. At this juncture Brian had reached the apogee of his power.

It wasn’t long, however, before the power structure which Brian had laboriously built up began to crumble. A rebellion broke out led by Sitric Silkenbeard of Dublin and the king of Leinster, Máelmórda mac Murchada, and Brian spent from 9 September until Christmas 1013 attacking them but without restoring the peace.

Vikings land in 'Dublin'

Vikings land in ‘Dublin’

Pic: Vikings land in ‘Dublin’

The inevitable consequence was Brian’s attempt to force Dublin and Leinster back into submission, and this culminated in the famous battle of Clontarf, on Good Friday, 23 April 1014. It was a bloody affair, the Dublin and Leinster armies being reinforced by troops from Man and the Western and Northern isles while Brian had only limited support from Munster, south Connacht, and perhaps Mide. Nevertheless, they won the day, although Brian himself was killed.

Later accounts portray the elderly and saintly King Brian, while praying in his tent, being brutally assassinated in the hour of victory by the fleeing Viking leader, Bródir. This is not mentioned in contemporary accounts, although they do report that after the battle the bodies of Brian and of his son Murchad were brought ceremoniously to Armagh by its clergy, and there waked for twelve nights, before being buried in a new tomb.

Something about the battle of Clontarf and its hero has never failed to hold the imagination of the Irish nation and it seems that Clontarf will remain an important landmark. As it was Brian Bóraime’s ultimate victory (however Pyrrhic) over his opponents, it can be said with justification that his career ended in glory, that he broke the Uí Néill monopoly of the high-kingship, and thereby shaped the course of Irish history for the next 150 years.

What is more, renewed Scandinavian attacks on England and Ireland in the run-up to Clontarf suggest that Brian’s victory may have averted a large-scale Scandinavian attack on Ireland, such as that which the Danish King Knut and his family successfully mounted against England at this time.

He was succeeded by his son Donnchad (d. 1064), then in turn by the latter’s more successful nephew, Tairdelbach (d. 1086) and by the latter’s son, Muirchertach (d. 1119), the family by then sporting with pride the surname Ua Briain (O’Brien).

Event Details

  • The Battle of Clontarf Festival is a Public Transport supported event.
  • Parking is available in the general area but is limited.
  • Dublin City Council would encourage anyone attending the event to use public transport.
  • Transport

    Visitors are strongly advised to utilise the public transport systems to access the festival.

    On Saturday Dublin Bus routes 29a, 31a, 31b, 32 and 130 will be running services from Abbey Street Lower, which will drop passengers off on Mount Prospect Avenue, a short walking distance to the entrance of St. Anne’s Park, at the Red Stables.On Sunday Dublin Bus routes 29, 31a, 31b, 32 and 130 will operate as usual with an additional Festival shuttle bus every 15 minutes on the 31 route from Eden Quay (between 10am-2pm) and from Abbey Street after 2pm. Normal fares will apply.Dart will be running services to Killester Dart Station which is the closest station to the event on Easter Saturday only. No DART service will run on Sunday April 20th.
    Map of Site Activities

    Map of Site Activities


    Pic: Map of Activity Sites

    See all of the activities in Ireland for the Brian Boru Millenium on the Heritage website.

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    Apr 18 2014

    Connla of the Fiery Hair and the Faerie Maiden

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    Connla of the Fiery Hair

    Connla of the Fiery Hair


    Pic: Marcel Borowiec
    Connla of the Fiery Hair was son of Conn of the Hundred Fights. One day as he stood by the side of his father on the height of Usna, he saw a maiden clad in strange attire coming towards him.

    “Whence comest thou, maiden?” said Connla.

    “I come from the Plains of the Ever Living,” she said, “there where there is neither death nor sin. There we keep holiday alway, nor need we help from any in our joy. And in all our pleasure we have no strife. And because we have our homes in the round green hills, men call us the Hill Folk.”

    The king and all with him wondered much to hear a voice when they saw no one. For save Connla alone, none saw the Fairy Maiden.

    “To whom art thou talking, my son? ” said Conn the king.

    Then the maiden answered,

    “Connla speaks to a young, fair maid, whom neither death nor old age awaits. I love Connla, and now I call him away to the Plain of Pleasure, Moy Mell, where Boadag is king for aye, nor has there been complaint or sorrow in that land since he has held the kingship.

    Oh, come with me, Connla of the Fiery Hair, ruddy as the dawn with thy tawny skin. A fairy crown awaits thee to grace thy comely face and royal form. Come, and never shall thy comeliness fade, nor thy youth, till the last awful day of judgment.”

    The king in fear at what the maiden said, which he heard though he could not see her, called aloud to his Druid, Coran by name.

    “Oh, Coran of the many spells,” he said, ” and of the cunning magic, I call upon thy aid. A task is upon me too great for all my skill and wit, greater than any laid upon me since I seized the kingship. A maiden unseen has met us, and by her power would take from me my dear, my comely son. If thou help not, he will be taken from thy king by woman’s wiles and witchery.”

    Then Coran the Druid stood forth and chanted his spells towards the spot where the maiden’s voice had been heard. And none heard her voice again, nor could Connla see her longer. Only as she vanished before the Druid’s mighty spell, she threw an apple to Connla.

    For a whole month from that day Connla would take nothing, either to eat or to drink, save only from that apple. But as he ate it grew again and always kept whole. And all the while there grew within him a mighty yearning and longing after the maiden he had seen.

    But when the last day of the month of waiting came, Connla stood by the side of the king his father on the Plain of Arcomin, and again he saw the maiden come towards him, and again she spoke to him.

    “’Tis a glorious place, forsooth, that Connla holds among short lived mortals awaiting the day of death. But now the folk of life, the ever-living ones, beg and bid thee come to Moy Mell, the Plain of Pleasure, for they have learnt to know thee, seeing thee in thy home among thy dear ones.

    When Conn the king heard the maiden’s voice he called to his men aloud and said:

    “Summon swift my Druid Coran, for I see she has again this day the power of speech.”

    Then the maiden said

    “Oh, mighty Conn, fighter of a hundred fights, the Druid’s power is little loved; it has little honour in the mighty land, peopled with so many of the upright. When the Law will come, it will do away with the Druid’s magic spells that come from the lips of the false black demon.”

    Then Conn the king observed that since the maiden came Connla his son spoke to none that spake to him. So Conn of the hundred fights said to him,

    “Is it to thy mind what the woman says, my son?”

    “’Tis hard upon me,”

    then said Connla;

    “I love my own folk above all things; but yet, but yet a longing seizes me for the maiden.”

    When the maiden heard this, she answered and said

    “The ocean is not so strong as the waves of thy longing. Come with me in my curragh, the gleaming, straight-gliding crystal canoe. Soon we can reach Boadag’s realm. I see the bright sun sink, yet far as it is, we can reach it before dark. There is, too, another land worthy of thy journey, a land joyous to all that seek it. Only wives and maidens dwell there. If thou wilt, we can seek it and live there alone together in joy.”

    When the maiden ceased to speak, Connla of the Fiery Hair rushed away from them and sprang into the curragh, the gleaming, straight-gliding crystal canoe. And then they all, king and court, saw it glide away over the bright sea towards the setting sun. Away and away, till eye could see it no longer, and Connla and the Fairy Maiden went their way on the sea, and were no more seen, nor did any know where they came.

    Celtic Fairy Tales, by Joseph Jacobs, [1892], at www.sacred-texts.com

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    Apr 10 2014

    New show, Druid Special No. 1 – An interview with Greywolf, the Head of the British Druid Order

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    Greywolf with Drum

    Greywolf with Drum

    Pic: Elaine Wildways

    In a ground-breaking show for us, we bring you the first part of an interview with the Head of the British Druid Order, Philip Shallcrass, aka Greywolf. He talks about Druidry, the Order, how he discovered his Path and he even tells us how he got the name ‘Greywolf’. 

    The show also contains 4 fantastic pieces of music, including one by Philip himself which re-tells his encounter with the Anglo-Saxon God, Woden. An interview not to be missed! The second half of this interview will be in our next Special show, SP40 Druid Special #2 - due out in a couple of weeks!

    How to Listen

    The Episode is available for subscribers on the feed, or you can download it or listen to it from our Episodes page. You’ll also be able to listen on Stitcher! You can find the Shownotes for this episode in the Shownotes section.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.We hope you enjoy it and wish you many blessings :D

    Gary & Ruthie x x x

    Celtic Myth Podshow CMP038 available nowCMPSP39 available now!

    Pic: Celtic Myth Podshow

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    Apr 07 2014

    Celtic fish-bones may reveal trade routes

    Fishbones
    Pic: Utah Spearfishing

    Old fish bones and dead insects could be the key to the story of Ireland’s transport system, 500 years before gridlock reports the Irish Herald.

    The fish bones, insect carcasses and dead plant material are wedged in the timbers of a medieval boat recovered from the river Boyne, near Drogheda.

    The boat has now been lifted from the river-bed and the Department of Environment is looking for experts who will be able to unravel the story from minute remains left in the vessel. Continue Reading »

    Originally posted 2009-06-21 08:43:42. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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    Apr 07 2014

    Neolithic warfare: new research

    arrowheads-co
    Pic: Archaeology.co.uk
    Archaeology.co.uk reports that the perception that much of prehistory was relatively peaceful is changing. New research has identified evidence of violent assault in the Neolithic. What does this tell us about Stone Age life as a whole? Forensic archaeologist Martin Smith explains.

    Whilst many Neolithic burials have been excavated during the last 150 years, they have received only limited study. Modern analysis of these remains by osteo-archaeologists is revealing shocking evidence for violent assaults involving clubs, axes, and arrowshot about 5,500 years ago.

    Recent years have seen growing interest in conflict archaeology. Warfare has gone from being a subject rarely mentioned by archaeologists to one that is widely debated. Current  world events may have something to do with this, but it is also linked to advances in our ability to recognise evidence of violence, and a drive towards new theoretical approaches for making sense of it. Most research of this kind has usually been concerned with more recent periods, but lately consideration is also being given to prehistory. In particular, we now have a growing body of evidence for aggression between groups and individuals during the Neolithic, most of which comes in the form of skeletal injuries. The fact that acts of violence sometimes occurred in this period now seems indisputable. However, assessing what this tells us about Neolithic life as a whole is harder.

    Read the full article at archaeology.co.uk

    Originally posted 2009-04-25 09:58:01. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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    Apr 07 2014

    Andraste – The patron Warrior Goddess of Boudicca and the Iceni tribe

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    Still alive.. by Ramah-Palmer

    Still alive.. 

    Pic: Ramah-Palmer

    Andraste, also known as Andred or Adraste, is a warrior goddess, the goddess of victory, of ravens and of battles, similar in many ways to the Irish war goddess Morrigan. Her name is thought to mean “the invincible one” or “she who has not fallen”. It is told that her presence was evoked on the eve of battle to curry favour. As a Goddess of divination, she was probably called upon to divine the outcome of battles and war. She was was venerated in woodland groves throughout Southern Britain and there is told of a sacred grove dedicated to Andraste somewhere in Epping Forest. Her symbol is the hare. [*] (This could be a misunderstanding of a form of divination using Hares – See quote from Dio Cassius). Many Neopagan sources describe the hare as sacred to Andraste. This seems to derive from a misreading of the passage in Dio Cassius in which Boudicca releases a hare from her gown.

    The hare’s release is described as a technique of divination, with an augury drawn from the direction in which it runs. This appears to be similar to the Roman methods of divination which ascribe meaning to the directions in which birds fly, with the left side being auspicious and the right side inauspicious.

    Taking an augury at this point before a battle is thus a means of testing the ‘good fortune’ of which Boudicca speaks, with no implication that the hare is sacred to Andraste. More importantly, the unflattering comparison of the Romans with ‘hares and foxes’ is not consistent with the reverence one would expect if the hare were a symbol of the Goddess. Boudicca is evidently giving thanks to Andraste for the omen of victory and not addressing the hare as Andraste.

    Andred, the Goddess of Fertility and Love as well as Warfare and Victory

    As Andred, her Romanised name is Andraste, she was a lunar mother-goddess figure associated with fertility and love. In her dark aspect however, she was associated principally with warfare and specifically with victory. She is sometimes compared to the goddess Andarte, a deity worshipped by the Vocontii of Gaul.

    The Iceni Queen Boudicca (Latin Boadicea), leader of a rebellion against the Roman occupation, is said to have propitiated Andraste in her campaigns against the Romans. Boudicca released a hare as part of the rite of propitiation.

    Robert Graves in “The White Goddess” speaks of a “taboo” in Britain against hunting hares, for fear that killing one might afflict the hunter with cowardice. He considers the likelihood that Boudicca in fact released the animal hoping that the Romans might strike at it, and loose their courage.

    The army of Queen Boudicca sacked the cities of Camulodunum (Clochester), Londinium, (London) and Verlanium (St Albans), It appears that the sacking of London was exceptionally savage and according to Roman historian Tacitus, the Roman women were rounded up, taken to a grove that was dedicated to the worship of the Celtic war goddess, Andraste, where they were murdered, had their breast cut off and stuffed into their mouths, and then were impaled with large skewers. This sacred grove was known to the Britons as Andraste’s Grove and is thought to have been somewhere in Epping Forest.

    A link to the Celtic goddess Boudiga?

    There is also a possible link to the Celtic goddess Boudiga (Welsh root, ‘budd’), whose name means “Victory.” It is possible that the name is a religious title, perhaps given to her during the early part of the rebellion.

    It is therefore likely that Boudicca occupied a dual position both as tribal leader and as the manifestation of a Druidic or Celtic Goddess. There is the mystery of Boudicca’s name; Boudicca means ‘victory’. She has been identified with Brigantia the war goddess of the Brigantes (the Romans called Brigantia ‘Victory’ and even by 200AD altars were still being erected to her). She is linked with Morrigan known as the Great Queen in Ireland. She is also associated with the triple war goddess whose three persons are Nemain (Frenzy), Badb Catha (Battle Raven) and Macha (Crow) whose sacred birds were fed allowed to feed on the stake impaled heads of those slaughtered in battle.

    The goddess invoked by Boudicca before the last battle is reputed to be Andrasta (also known as Victory). Boudicca, it is said, sacrificed those she defeated in battle to Andrasta, she took no captives. Therefore it could possibly be deduced that Boudicca was not her personal name, but perhaps an official or religious title which would mean that from the point of view of her followers that she was the personification of a goddess.

    This would help to explain the fanaticism of her followers who were drawn to her from a variety of tribes and also their unusual willingness to unite so completely, and to follow the leadership of a woman in battle. Tacitus’s observation that Boudicca released a hare between the two armies before the battle, suggests that this is indication of a priestess seeking augury. Further that the mutilation of the dead, indicating that many were not just killed but sacrificed to the Celtic Goddess Andrasta, indicates Boudicca’s status as a priestess of the Goddess.

    Boudicca’s Speech Before The Last Battle.

    “It is not as a woman descended from noble ancestry, but as one of the people that I am avenging lost freedom, my scourged body, the outraged chastity of my daughters. Roman lust has gone so far that not our very persons, nor even age or virginity are left unpolluted.”

    “But heaven is on the side of the righteous vengeance; a legion which dared to fight has perished; the rest are hiding themselves in their camp, or are thinking anxiously of flight. They will not sustain even the din and the shout of so many thousands, much less our charge and our blows.

    “If you weigh well the strength of the armies, and the causes of the war, you will see that in this battle you must conquer or die. This is a woman’s resolve. As for the men, they may live and be slaves!”

    So we have tantalising glimpses of a Goddess to whom very little is known, Andraste warrior Goddess of the Iceni tribe, who accepted sacrifices of hares and, perhaps, humans. As Andraste she represented the darkest, most needful aspects of warcraft, to be called upon in times of dire emergency and propitiated with the sacrifice of blood, considered to be the most potent magic of all.

    Here in her darkest aspect she would be seen as the Crone or the Dark of the Moon, the Cutter of the Threads, the one to whom all return. It is not so strange since death is so much a part of warfare. This dark side is tempered by her aspect as Andred, here she is a lunar mother-goddess figure associated with fertility and love, the creator and bringer of life. It is also possible that another of her aspects, her maiden or youthful side was also worshipped, as a goddess of the hunt. As a lunar Goddess, the Maiden, Mother, Crone triplicity would almost certainly have been venerated.

    Quote from Dio Cassius

    “Let us, therefore, go against them trusting boldly to good fortune. Let us show them that they are hares and foxes trying to rule over dogs and wolves.”

    When she had finished speaking, she employed a species of divination, letting a hare escape from the fold of her dress; and since it ran on what they considered the auspicious side, the whole multitude shouted with pleasure, and Buduica, raising her hand toward heaven, said:

    “I thank thee, Andraste, and call upon thee as woman speaking to woman; for I rule over no burden-bearing Egyptians as did Nitocris, nor over trafficking Assyrians as did Semiramis (for we have by now gained thus much learning from the Romans!), much less over the Romans themselves as did Messalina once and afterwards Agrippina and now Nero (who, though in name a man, is in fact a woman, as is proved by his singing, lyre-playing and beautification of his person); nay, those over whom I rule are Britons, men that know not how to till the soil or ply a trade, but are thoroughly versed in the art of war and hold all things in common, even children and wives, so that the latter possess the same valour as the men.

    As the queen, then, of such men and of such women, I supplicate and pray thee for victory, preservation of life, and liberty against men insolent, unjust, insatiable, impious, — if, indeed, we ought to term those people men who bathe in warm water, eat artificial dainties, drink unmixed wine, anoint themselves with myrrh, sleep on soft couches with boys for bedfellows, — boys past their prime at that, — and are slaves to a lyre-player and a poor one too.

    Wherefore may this Mistress Domitia-Nero reign no longer over me or over you men; let the wench sing and lord it over Romans, for they surely deserve to be the slaves of such a woman after having submitted to her so long. But for us, Mistress, be thou alone ever our leader.”

    Dio Cassius

    (*) Roman History by Cassius Dio
    Published in Vol. VIII of the Loeb Classical Library edition, 1925

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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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    Apr 02 2014

    The Myth of Roman Britain

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    Model of London under Roman rule in AD 85-90

    Model of London under Roman rule in AD 85-90

    Pic: Heritage Daily

    This journey will begin at the end. Roman Britain was a period where the Classical world smashed into the Celtic, creating a culture that was unique and wonderfully absorbing reports Heritage Daily. In the minds of many, quite wrongly, it is when the history of Britain truly began. Druidic cults would come face to face with the grandeur of Roman polytheism; roads would be slammed onto the landscape to allow the ferocious war machine of Rome to alleviate the Brits of their freedom with brutal efficiency and speed.

    Stone and glorious marble would replace tired wood, and Rome would slide its fingers around Britain’s throat whilst distracting it with death and gold.

    This is the popular public view, the Romans came in 43 AD, saw, conquered, had an alarmingly close call with the fiery haired Boudicca, built lots of nice things and we basically just held hands for three hundred and sixty seven years in a lovely peace. The Romans gave us roads right? Not exactly true, examples have been found of a reasonably efficient road system already in place. They brought law and order, again, quite wrong; most of the evidence we have for law and order in the Roman style is from the very last convulsions of the empire. In addition and more importantly of course they brought civilisation. Well, that would depend what one would mean by ‘civilisation’.

     A mere hundred years after the Romans departed on a doomed mission to resuscitate an empire choking on its own neglect, the Britons had adopted a system of law that bore no resemblance to its Latin forbear, unlike in Gaul and Spain where the Goth and Vandal Latinised system of law prevailed.

    The Roman civic centres, the towns, had collapsed into decay; Roman Britain had become a ghost province, an image of shadows and dust that today we still find romantic and nostalgic. The Germanic barbarians that settled in Europe after the fall of the Roman West adopted the Latin language, the Angles, Jutes and Saxons that came to Britain in this period did not. The peoples of Britain were only too happy to leave Latin behind as an everyday language, leaving only the faintest traces of Latin in the English dialect today (1). Still however, we are prone to clutch at this Roman epoch of our history, before now, the period after 409 AD was referred to as the now ridiculous, ‘Dark Ages’. This means that when the Romans had left Britain, apparently the light simply, went out. But was it ever truly lit?

    The trouble with archaeology…is the archaeologists….

    In order to discover whether the Roman occupation of Britain actually was as seismic a shift in history as portrayed within many circles. We must first look at the very thing which helps us wade through history, archaeology itself.

    Our entire view of Roman Britain is dictated by hindsight, though this is always the case with any history. It is almost impossible to view any history with complete objectivity. Our conceptions of what’s right and wrong, of what is good and bad and of what works and what will fail is completely dictated by the modern world we inhabit. Bias is an inescapable aspect of any historical study, and even though archaeology is gaining scientific momentum, it is still interpreted using bias and fashionable ideas. It would appear from the re-imagining of the evidence to see the province of Britannia in a nearly new light, an island that largely snubbed Roman culture, which rebelled against the very nature of Roman civilisation, a gloriously and decidedly un-Roman province….the province of Britannia.

    The Villa

    The Villa, for all of its grandeur, mystery and iconographic status, is ultimately and simply, a paradox. Because they are the ultimate symbols of Roman decadence and are a very visual archaeological site, they are paraded to tourists and interested parties as the norm in Britain, giving the idea that everybody lived in a villa, or at the very least, a nice Romanised building with all the trimmings. Of course this is not so, to the extent of almost being a phallic evaluation of the actual evidence. In reality, despite the meticulous study given to villa sites and their immediate landscapes, they actually represent less than two per cent of the known and recorded settlement patterns in Britain between the first and the fourth centuries AD.
    Fishguard Roman Villa

    Fishguard Roman Villa

    Pic: Heritage Daily

    That is less than one in six known rural settlements that can be classed as a ‘villa’.

    Villa sites tend mostly to be found in areas of Britain that are fully pacified, or at least this is the impression the evidence suggests. People would build them who would truly benefit from the Roman system of patronage. More specifically in areas where the soil was rich therefore capable of sustaining the kind of intensive farming the Romans brought with them, and of which most villas are thought to be associated with. Villa sites as they appear now, in the archaeological record, are mostly dated to the third to fourth centuries AD, with the exception of places like Fishbourne in Sussex and Eccles in Kent, primarily phases of construction from earlier periods. It is a strange parallel that the turmoil the empire as a whole was going through during the third and fourth centuries did not reflect or hinder the growth of villa sites in any substantial way.

    Roman Britain

    Roman Britain in the 4th Century

    Pic: Heritage Daily

    The areas highlighted in pink to the left illustrate the places where villa sites were most prominent in the fourth century, and from what we know about the diffusion of such sites, it would not have been much different from preceding centuries. It shows the concentration of the villa sites as unanimously in the South East of the province, where the attitudes towards the Romans was far more welcoming, as well as the richness of the soil for intense agricultural use. Attention should also be drawn to the faint scatterings of villas elsewhere, being precisely that, a faint scatter, the ‘Chaos Theory’ to the predictability of Roman settlement patterns. Very few are found in Wales, adding material weight to the theories that the Welsh tribes very rarely favoured the Roman administration and to the North they seem to peter out the further North one travels.

    If not in villas….then where?

    According to recent studies, over ninety per cent of the population lived in the countryside (3) and this is where the predominant evidence for a less that successful province of Britannia stems. Being a true Roman was an expensive lifestyle choice. For the vast majority of the population living in Britain at the time, the cultural benefits of being ‘Roman’ would not have been just financially feasible, regardless if there was any desire to be so anyway of course. Plus, the very essence of being ‘Roman’ would have contrasted wildly with what is known of social ideas of identity and community in Iron Age Britain, which was a marked difference in how one could be defined as ‘Roman’.

    The Iron Age Britons were a set of individual peoples and tribes, with their own cultural curiosities and intricate systems, a unified form of anything would presumably have been quite an alien prospect for them. The only real things they shared were a thread of ‘Celtic’ culture and the fact they shared the same landscape. The pill of being ‘Roman’ would have been a hard one to swallow, simply because it negated almost everything they would have held dear, most importantly, those of values and principles.  The majority of the population still maintained much the same lifestyle it did before the invasion of 43AD, and this can be seen through the archaeological record, or the lack of it, depending on one’s perspective.
    Roman town wall of Venta Silurum (Caerwent, Wales)

    Roman town wall of Venta Silurum (Caerwent, Wales)

    Pic: Heritage Daily

    This is none more so visible than in Wales. Wales had two important Roman civic centres implanted there, Caerwent and Carmathen. However when one looks outside these immediate areas, the Celtic life never is very far away. A large number of hill forts continued to be utilised in the same ways they were before the Romans came. Small indigenous settlements are found to still be occupied throughout the Roman period. At Tre’r Ceiri in Gwynedd, a walled settlement comprising of 140 circular huts has been discovered. Pottery evidence has found that the main period of occupation was between the second and the fifth century, when Britain was in the very throes of Roman dominance. Although utilising the imported Roman pottery, and presumably the goods within them, it is still possible to see almost a microcosmic view of the rest of Britain at this time; a native people with some new tools to use. The essential lifestyle didn’t change, but the trappings of life altered into a hybrid of Celtic and Roman culture.

    History needs us; it needs our concepts, our arguments and more importantly, it needs our future. Without keeping history alive, it would simply stay dead, it would simply stay history. Whether the Romans impacted Britain as much as is believed is for the academics to fight over, haggling over the intricacies of evidence that have long been argued over. This is because it doesn’t actually matter. The Romans are, and always will be, the vehicle on which we can capture the hearts, minds and imaginations of entire nations, and keep the flame of history burning that little while longer.

    The immortal question of: ‘What did the Romans really do for us?’ will never really be answered, but that doesn’t mean we should stop asking.

    Read the full article, with sources and references, on the Heritage Daily website.

    ———————————

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    Apr 01 2014

    Prehistoric Scotland had links to lands overseas

    Upper Largie Footed Food Vessel
    Upper Largie Footed Food Vessel
    Pic: Culture 24
    Back in February 2008, Culture 24 reported on a discovery made in Upper Largie which provided exciting evidence of 4,000 year-old links between prehistoric Scotland and the Netherlands. Upper Largie is near Kilmartin in Argyll and Bute and the original excavations took place in 2005.

    Analysis of the pots by Alison Sheridan, of National Museums Scotland, has revealed early international-style Beakers of the type found around the lower Rhine, which is the modern-day Netherlands and a strange hybrid of styles that suggest Irish and Yorkshire influences.

    These finds are very rare.

    said Martin Cook, the AOC Archaeology Project Officer, who oversaw the excavations in 2005.

    I think there are three or four other examples that early in Scotland. We initially didn’t realise how unusual they were, as it is so unusual to find three beaker ceramic vessels in the same feature.

    The actual structure was very unusual, there’s only been one other grave excavated like that in Scotland – you just don’t get features like that generally.

    The excavations revealed two graves within a complex Neolithic and Bronze Age ritual landscape composed of monuments including an Early Neolithic cursus (long earthwork) and an Early Bronze Age timber circle.

    The grave is so early and the style of ceramic is so rare for this period that it’s either an immigrant or a first or second generation descendant who still knows these techniques. The pots are made from local material which certainly suggests an immigrant or a second generation person.

    Travel at this time would have been difficult with few established tracks and thick forests covering much of the British Isles – much of it populated by some dangerous wild animals. Seaward travel to or from Yorkshire and Ireland to pick up these influences would have been the slightly easier option.

    I think it just re-emphasises the importance of Kilmartin as a centre during this time.

    added Martin.

    For more information about the work of AOC Archeology Group, see www.aocarchaeology.com

    To read the full article, please go to Culture 24.

    Originally posted 2009-12-23 08:24:22. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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    Apr 01 2014

    Archaeological world rocked as Boudicca’s Burial is Discovered at King’s Cross

    For mobile users, please either keep scrolling down to read or switch to ‘Desktop view’ – Thank you

    Famous Statue of Bouddica

    Famous Statue of Bouddica

    Pic: Heritage Daily

    The archaeological world was reeling today from the news that a team of researchers has made the discovery of the century at the site of the Kings Cross rail development in London. Professor M. Maus, leading an archaeological team from the London Institute of Studies, was able to reveal to the press the burial site of the famous flame haired Queen of the Iceni; Boudicca. Boudicca famously defied Roman rule, leading a revolt against the occupying force round AD 60. During a successful campaign Boudicca’s forces fought their way west from the homeland of the Iceni tribe in modern day East Anglia.

    Destroying Colchester, Boudicca headed for London, leading a force of 100,000 to burn and destroy the majority of the city.

    The discovery at Kings Cross has been kept under wraps until today for fear of a media frenzy, but Prof. Maus insists that its time the world knows the truth. On an exclusive tour of the site,  HeritageDaily was shown an extraordinary burial chamber containing a wheeled chariot and the body of a woman, remarkably well preserved. Prof. Maus went on to describe the find;

    ‘If you look closely, there are traces of red hair on the skull and you can clearly see the socket for spikes on each of the wheels – we know Boudicca used these to cut down Roman legionaries in battle. There had always been rumors that Boudicca was buried in Kings Cross, its such a revelation to bring truth to the fables.

    Plans are now underway for a major exhibition covering the discoveries, to be funded by the Institute of Studies and the charitable body Funding Organisation Of London.

    Check back with Heritage Daily regularly as the story develops…

    ———————————

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    iphone

    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.

    CMP App on Amazon

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    Windows 8 Phone App

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