Archive for the 'Education' Category

May 08 2014

Highland archaeologists Intrigued By Pictish Beast


Pictish Animal Symbol
Pic: Andrew Dowsett

Steven Mckenzie reporter for BBC Scotland Highlands and Islands tells us:

A Pictish symbol stone built into the wall of a Highland farm building has been recorded by archaeologists.

The markings show a beast, crescent, comb and mirror.

Archaeologist Cait McCullagh said it was a mystery how it had taken until this year for the stone to be officially recorded.

She said it also suggested that more Pictish stones have still to be documented on the Black Isle where the beast was recorded.

Ms McCullagh, the co-founder and director of Archaeology for Communities in the Highlands (Arch), said the symbol stones probably dated from the 5th to 7th centuries AD.

 

She said it was unusual to find such carvings on the north side of the Moray Firth.

A lack of weathering on the Pictish beast may suggest the stone had been kept inside, or had been buried, for a long period before it was placed in the wall of the byre.

Isobel Henderson, an expert in the field of early medieval sculpture, came across the Pictish beast stone earlier this year and alerted Highland Council archaeologists.

Easter Ross-based Ms McCullagh was also notified and she confirmed the markings as Pictish.

She also went on to identify a Pictish symbol stone in the wall of a nearby farmhouse with markings thought to represent goose feathers, or fish scales. Harling obscures most the carving.

‘A mystery’

Both stones are on private properties built in the 19th Century and owned by the same family for about 50 years until two years ago.

Ms McCullagh said the relics were never mentioned during a recent local heritage project that had asked people to suggest sites of archaeological and historical interest.

The Pictish beast and goose, or fish, markings have been recorded by Highland Council’s Historic Environment Record.

Markings showing plumage or scales were also found in a farmhouse wall

Ms McCullagh said:

“It is a mystery why it has taken so long for the stones to come to our attention.

“It is also exciting to think that there are maybe more still to be found.

“We are always encouraging people to put their Pictish specs on and look out for stones in church yards and dykes.”

The Picts lived in north and east Scotland in the 3rd to 9th centuries AD.

Few written records of the people survive.

According to Highland Council, inscriptions suggest that the Picts spoke a language closely related to both Welsh and Gaelic.

Source

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.

 

You can now also find an Android version of the App which works identically to the iPhone version. You can find it on Appbrain at http://www.appbrain.com/app/celtic-myth-show/tv.wizzard.android.celticmythpodshow841 or by using the QR code opposite.

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 2011-09-14 18:12:22. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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Apr 26 2014

New show, Druid Special No. 2 – An interview with Greywolf, the Head of the British Druid Order, Part 2

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

Philip Shallcrass

Philip Shallcrass


Pic: Elaine Wildways
In the second of our unique Druid Interviews, we bring you the second half of our interview with the Head of the British Druid Order, Philip Shallcrass, aka Greywolf. He talks about Druidry, the BDO’s Distance Learning Courses,the Ogham and the World Drum. The show also contains 6 fantastic pieces of music, including one by Philip himself which he wrote for his three sons. Truly, an interview not to be missed!

We’ve marked this show as explicit due to the subject matter of the ‘out-takes’ at the end – the body of the show remains ‘Family-Friendly’!

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

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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.

 

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

You can now also find the Windows 8 Phone App in the Windows 8 Phone Store.

Windows 8 Phone App

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.

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Feb 24 2014

Who was the mysterious sub-Saharan Beachy Head Lady?

Beachy Head Lady

Beachy Head Lady

Pic: Eastbourne Museums

Eastbourne Ancestors project has uncovered a rare archaeological discovery, a skeleton with African ancestry dating to the Roman period, providing further proof of the ethnic diversity within the province of Britannia reported Eastbourne Council. The Heritage Lottery Funded project, which has seen a detailed analysis of the origin, health, diet and social status of human skeletal remains, produced surprising results when the remains of the ‘Beachy Head lady’, discovered near Eastbourne’s most famous beauty spot in 1953, were proven in October 2013 by Oxford University to be that of an African lady from around AD245, the middle of the Roman period in Britain.

The results of this and many more finds, will be shown in a fascinating Eastbourne Ancestors exhibition which opens mid December.

The ground-breaking project, which is the first time an extensive analysis has taken place on one collection in the UK, will use 2D and 3D cranio-facial forensic reconstructions, allowing modern day people to gaze into the eyes of their ancestors.

The exhibition aims to put the flesh on the bones of individuals from Eastbourne’s distant past, and discover a little of their life story. Working with leading Universities, Radio-Isotope Analysis also examines bones and teeth for trace elements absorbed from food and water during an individual’s lifetime, giving a geological fingerprint to the region in which they grew up.

Facial Reconstruction

Facial Reconstruction

Pic: Eastbourne Council

Heritage Officer, Jo Seaman said:

This is a fantastic discovery for the south coast. We know this lady was around 30 years old, grew up in the vicinity of what is now East Sussex, ate a good diet of fish and vegetables, her bones were without disease and her teeth were in good condition.

Without the context of seeing the burial site or grave goods, we don’t yet know why she was here, or her social status. However based on what we know of the Roman era and a similar discovery in York, it’s possible she was the wife of a local official or mistress of the extensive Roman villa which is known to be close to Eastbourne Pier, or she may have been a Merchant, plying the trade routes around the Mediterranean up to this remote European outpost. Another theory is the rather more upsetting possibility that this lady may have been a slave, we just don’t know at this stage.

Our next step is to carry out more research to establish tangible facts about the nature of her burial site and her discovery in 1953. However, from what we have so far established, this is a major find for Roman archaeology in Britain and a highly significant one for the story of Eastbourne and for the Ancestors project in general.

Eastbourne Ancestors project began in 2012 with around 300 skeletons dating from the Bronze Age to Middle Saxon Period , each cleaned and analysed to give an ‘osteo-biography’ or story for each individual. Detailed testing of bones and teeth identifies their national or regional origins, age, gender, size, state of health, diet and in some cases, how they died. This information has been combined with data from excavations relating to their burials and grave goods to also explain their social status and possibly what they did in life.

Eastbourne Borough Council Cabinet Member for Tourism and Leisure, Cllr Carolyn Heaps said:

This fascinating exhibition will be a fantastic addition to our busy Heritage programme which ranges from Saxon events to Napoleonic re-enactments, 1940’s wartime themes and daily cannon firing in summer.

The skeletons in the project are all discoveries from targeted archaeological digs or have been rescued from construction sites across Eastbourne and its downland, and have been handed to the Heritage Service for safe keeping.

The Eastbourne Ancestors exhibition opens mid December at The Pavilion on Eastbourne seafront, running until November 2014. For more information on Eastbourne Ancestors visit Eastbournemuseums.co.uk/ancestors, or contact the Eastbourne Heritage Service on 01323 415396 or localhistory@eastbourne.gov.uk.

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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.

 

iphone

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 also found on the Opera Marketplace in the US.

You can now also find the Windows 8 Phone App in the Windows 8 Phone Store.

Windows 8 Phone App

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.

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Feb 19 2014

Study an Accredited, Web-Based Celtic Study Programme at home

Celtic Chi Rho

Celtic Chi Rho

Pic: St. Francis Xavier Uni.

We’re proud to bring you this superb overview of Celtic Studies courses available on the Internet by our special Guest Blogger, Robert Olsen. He writes:

Flourishing scholastic programs in Irish Studies and Celtic Studies have been distinctive elements in the UK collegiate arena since the 70s. But did you know that folks can earn diplomas and obtain college credits in Celtic Studies from the convenience of their own residencies?

Modern innovations in learning technology now lure the world’s most distinguished higher-education institutions to deliver their degree programmes and courses to a wider audience. As a result, online Celtic Studies is currently the newest trend whacking the UK and the Americas for college students who want to find out about Irish linguistics, humanities, art history, paleontology and days of yore.

Learn Irish Studies in Celtic Dialects on the Web

Enrolment figures at the world’s most-poplar, web-based, Irish Studies programs prove that graduate intellectuals have become more intrigued with Scottish Gaelic, Irish and Welsh languages.

Internet-based Irish Studies in Celtic offers these post-graduate students with an approach to get to know Irish history and society with a dialect component added to the course, less the necessity of having to travel to the UK to learn it.

Where can folks find these programmes?

Celtic Studies may not get on every college student’s wish list, but for those intellectuals who wish to discover the diversity of the Irish culture through collegiate work and who own a desire to understand more about Irish society of today and yesteryear, registering in a web-based Irish studies program is the way to go.

Degree Jungle, a prominent online search engine for locating the best accredited, web-based programmes, has assembled a line-up of the most popular Celtic Studies degree courses out there. Let’s have a look at what they found!

Irish Studies at Regis: BA in Celtic Studies

This course presents college students the chance to look into the history, society, literary works and nation-wide politics of the Irish people through online classes. Electronic lessons prioritize notable historical events, the Irish church, distinctive fine art, Celtic engineering and Celtic music, taught by some of Ireland’s most renowned geniuses.
NUI Galway

NUI Galway

Pic: NUI Galway

The University of Wales Trinity Saint David: MA in Celtic Studies

Uni. of Wales: Trinity Saint David

Uni. of Wales: Trinity Saint David

Pic: Uni. of Wales: Trinity Saint David

UWTSD grants a one-of-a-kind, distance-learning regimen that is broadcasted to the homes of individuals who are fascinated with Welsh and Celtic Studies. This recognized Master of Arts degree concentrates on humanities and social heritage in Celtic territories. The degree also enables college students to research a wide range of topics, including early and late gothic history, monasticism and iconography. No prior understanding of Irish dialects is needed for this course, as learners examine course books in translation, and the course is taught through in the English language.

Cardiff University: Early Celtic Studies (MA)

Cardiff university students possess numerous opportunities to get to know Welsh, and e-learning instructors are experts in the areas of Celtic prehistory, history and folklore. Students are given a carefully monitored foreword to all digital assets, and lessons are taught in modest clusters over the web. Each enrolee takes a series of core modules, which are managed in combination with other MA and MSc certifications from school’s departments of History, Pre-history, Religion and the School of Welsh.
Cardiff University

Cardiff University

Pic: Cardiff University

Regardless if it’s wanting to tackle Welsh or Scottish Gaelic dialects or just wanting to master Celtic Studies in English, those individuals who work all day or have full-time households can oftentimes respect what the Irish studies programs listed above have to offer.

About the Author: Robert Olsen

Robert Olsen is a freelance education and technology writer with almost 5 years experience writing for tech publications, specializing in the future of distance education. A frequent contributor to educational resource website Degree Jungle, Robert and his family of three are based out of Portland, Oregon.

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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.

 

iphone

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 also found on the Opera Marketplace in the US.

You can now also find the Windows 8 Phone App in the Windows 8 Phone Store.

Windows 8 Phone App

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.

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Feb 04 2014

Butser Ancient Farm – Researching Prehistoric and Celtic Agriculture and Building techniques

Butser Ancient Farm in Hampshire

Butser Ancient Farm in Hampshire

Pic: Butser

If you fancy a visit to a working Iron Age Farm, then you cannot do better than a visit to Butser Ancient Farm. Situated just north of Portsmouth on the South Coast of the UK, Butser boasts a unique experimental archaeological site and a fascinating day out. Nestled into the rolling South Downs National Park, this ancient farm displays ongoing constructions of Iron Age buildings based on real sites, crops from prehistory and rare breeds of animals.

The Butser Ancient Farm

Butser Ancient Farm is not just a great Hampshire day out – they are also one of the most interesting archaeological sites in the UK, a real working farm that they use as an open-air research laboratory to explore the ancient world. The farm’s directors are Maureen Page and Simon Jay. They run the business as Butser Education Community Interest Company, a not-for-profit company. Their education staff are experienced, full of fascinating information and passionate about what they do.
Re-enactment at Butser Ancient Farm

Re-enactment at Butser Ancient Farm

Pic: Butser

Leading groups in hands-on activities they encourage children and teachers alike to get the most from their day with them.

Education at Butser

Ideally set up for school visits from Keystages 1-4 they provide complete Risk Assessments for activities involving Archaeology, Chalk carving, Clunching, Jewellery, Mosaics, Pottery, Spinning, the Villa tour and Wattling. It is a perfect venue for outdoor learning and a great way to bring history alive – 15,000 pupils visit Butser Ancient Farm every year, so why not bring your class too? Inspire their curiosity to find out more about the past! They are embracing the new curriculum and activities are now available for Stone Age, Bronze Age, Anglo Saxons and Vikings as well as the Celts and Romans.

Kids loving the adventure!

Kids loving the adventure!

Pic: Butser

Not only the Kids, but Teachers love:

  • the quality of our enthusiastic team, who will lead you through an adventurous day transporting your pupils back to ancient times.
  • our carefully planned activities that tie in with different aspects of Key Stages 1, 2, 3 and 4 – from history and art to DT and maths.
  • our atmospheric Great Roundhouse and impressive Roman villa.

 

What are you studying? Celts, Romans, Invaders and Settlers, Anglo-Saxons and Vikings, Houses and Homes, Discovery for Reception Age, Medicine through Time, Sustainable Technologies or Archaeology? Our stunning site and inspiring staff will bring the past to life. Your class can sit beside a large open fire in a roundhouse that is actually based on real archaeology. They can touch, smell and see what life would have been like.

Adult Education and Workshops at Butser

Butser Ancient Farm workshops take you right back to life in Britain during the Iron Age and Roman times.

These inspiring sessions provide hands-on experience in ancient crafts and archaeological techniques in an atmospheric setting. All necessary tools are provided and workshop prices include materials. The following workshops are available during the year: Hedgelaying, wood frame building, coracle making, felt making, prehistoric metallurgy, home herbal apothecary, Roman cooking, archaeology, Bronze Age axe/gold sun disk/sword making, flint knapping, bushcraft skills, cooking over the Roundhouse fire, silver bracelet making, cave painting.
Guided Coracle activities

Guided Coracle activities

Pic: Butser on Facebook

Special Events and the Friends of Butser

Samhain at Butser

Samhain at Butser

Pic: Butser on Facebook

Beltain is their hugely popular festival to mark the start of summer, with a 30ft-high Wicker Man burned as the sun sets. Craft displays, hot food, live bands and a stunning setting make it a night to remember. Join them for their ancient celebrations of spring and our Fairy Festival to mark the ancient Quarter Day of ‘Mid-Summer.’ Samhain celebrates the Celtic New Year in October, with a folk band, story telling, fire sculpture and ghost tours. See the Great Roundhouse decorated at the end of December ready for the Tales of Winter Magic round a roaring fire.

Another highlight is Open Night at the Museum, an opportunity to visit the farm in the evening. They also have a Dig It Archeology Day for children.

This is an astounding site to visit and you can find out more about the facilities, prices and opening times on their main website, as well as more about joining the Friends of Butser – a charity (reg.no. 1039961) that helps keep the Butser Ancient Farm Project running. Membership is open to all those who wish to support Butser Ancient Farm, to promote interest in all aspects of its work, or who simply want to be part of a unique project. You can also find more details on Facebook and on YouTube.

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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.

 

iphone

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 also found on the Opera Marketplace in the US.

You can now also find the Windows 8 Phone App in the Windows 8 Phone Store.

Windows 8 Phone App

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.

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Jan 30 2014

Amazing website has over 30,000 Oral Records made in Scotland from 1930s onward!

Search Districts in Scotland

Search Districts in Scotland

Pic: Tobar an Dualchais

The Tobar an Dualchais (http://www.tobarandualchais.co.uk/#) website contains over 30,000 oral recordings made in Scotland and further afield, from the 1930s onwards. The items you can listen to include stories, songs, music, poetry and factual information. You can search their wonderful website using their interactive version of the Scottish Map pictured left. They say:Tobar an Dualchais/Kist o Riches is a collaborative project which has been set up to preserve, digitise, catalogue and make available online several thousand hours of Gaelic and Scots recordings. This website contains a wealth of material such as folklore, songs, music, history, poetry, traditions, stories and other information. The material has been collected from all over Scotland and beyond from the 1930s onwards.

The recordings come from the School of Scottish Studies (University of Edinburgh)BBC Scotland and the National Trust for Scotland‘s Canna Collection.

Please note that not all material from the School of Scottish Studies Archives is available on the website.

Examples from these collections include

  • Stories recorded by John Lorne Campbell on wax cylinders in 1937
  • Folklore collected all over Scotland by Calum Maclean in the 1950s
  • Scots songs recorded by Hamish Henderson from travelling people in the 1960s
  • Conversations recorded on Radio nan Gàidheal

Please note that the sound quality is variable on of some of the recordings due to the sound recording equipment available at the time.

The project will ensure that Scotland’s rich oral heritage is safeguarded and made widely available for educational and personal use for future generations.

[source]

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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.

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 also 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 2013-02-09 06:22:18. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

No responses yet

Jan 13 2014

Amazing project to produce 3D images of all the Ogham Stones


Video: Dublin IAS

A team at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies lead by Dr. Nora White are creating a publicly accessible database of 3D models of 400 Ogham Stones. This amazing project is not only cataloging each stone with details of its’ inscription, but adding a commentary, details of the stone’s location and situation, a map, a video and now – most incredibly – a 3D model of the stone that you can spin in your browser to look at all angles of the chisel-marks of the Ogham inscriptions! They have been using an Artec Eva 3D scanner to produce these models which are not only going to be viewable online at the DIAS website but they will be making high detail *.OBJ files  available for download for further study.

So What is the Ogham?

Ogham stones are among Ireland’s most remarkable national treasures. These perpendicular cut stones bear inscriptions in the uniquely Irish Ogham alphabet, using a system of notches and horizontal or diagonal lines/scores to represent the sounds of an early form of the Irish language. The stones are inscribed with the names of prominent people and sometimes tribal affiliation or geographical areas. These inscriptions constitute the earliest recorded form of Irish and, as our earliest written records dating back at least as far as the 5th century AD, are a significant resource for historians, as well as linguists and archaeologists. Seminal work has already been carried out on Ogham inscriptions, most notably by Damian McManus (Professor of Early Irish, Trinity College Dublin and author of A Guide to Ogam) on the linguistic aspects and by Fionnbarr Moore (Senior Archaeologist, National Monuments Service) on the archaeological perspective. To date, the Ogham inscriptions have been recorded using drawings and conventional photography. The Celtic Inscribed Stones Project (CISP) also includes many of the Ogham stones in its on-line database.
Ogham Stone at Boleycarrigeen

Ogham Stone at Boleycarrigeen

Pic: Nora White

The Ogham in 3D project focuses exclusively on Ogham stones, bringing all of the available information together in a single searchable archive and adding a crucial new dimension to the work already carried out in the form of 3D models of the stones.

Known Ogham Inscriptions

There are more than 400 known orthodox Ogham inscriptions. These are Ogham inscriptions on stone recording the names of individuals, sometimes accompanied by their parentage and/or tribal affiliation, as opposed to later ‘scholastic’ Oghams, which derive from the manuscript tradition and do not descend directly from orthodox Ogham. Orthodox Ogham stones appear to have primarily served as memorials and/or boundary markers as well as indicators of land ownership. Possible associations between the commemorative function of Ogham stones and actual burials, and how these may have changed over time or geographical area, is an ongoing area of study. The inscriptions themselves were usually carved along the natural edge of the stone, generally starting at the bottom left-hand side of the face and reading upwards, across the top and down the right-hand side (up-top-down). However, there is a good deal of variation in this pattern, such as upward readings on both edges (up-up, e.g. CIIC 146. Ballineanig, Co. Kerry).

There is a fascinating amount of information as well as access to all of the collected work so far on the DIAS 3D Ogham Project website.

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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.

 

iphone

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 also found on the Opera Marketplace in the US.

You can now also find the Windows 8 Phone App in the Windows 8 Phone Store.

Windows 8 Phone App

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.

No responses yet

Dec 22 2013

New Stonehenge £27m Visitor Centre opens with stunning experience

Stonehenge and its 360-degree experience

Stonehenge and its 360-degree experience

Pic: Stonehenge

In December 2013, English Heritage unveiled its new visitor centre to the public. The Telegraph reports that it has been decades since visitors to Stonehenge were able to experience what Neolithic man did when he first set foot inside the gigantic stone circle. With tourists and day-trippers barred since the late Seventies from entering the circle in order to protect the stones from damage, there has been a fierce and long-running debate on how the site should best be displayed.

But on Wednesday a new £27 million centre opened at Stonehenge with a 360 degree cinema at its heart where visitors can “experience” standing in the ancient circle. Builders and landscape contractors have been putting the final touches to the Visitors Centre, built one and a half miles from the stones, which can be revealed for the first time here.

More than 200 steel columns support the gently undulating canopy, under which sit two “pods” which house the cinema, exhibitions, café and shops. The 360 degree cinema – 100ft in circumference compared with about 300ft in the actual stone circle – is one of several audio visual attractions built to bring the 5,000-year-old monument to life. The 360 degree cinema – 100ft in circumference compared with about 300ft in the actual stone circle – is one of several audio visual attractions built to bring the 5,000-year-old monument to life.
The New Stonehenge Vistor Centre

The New Stonehenge Visitor Centre

Pic: Telegraph

Audio-Visual Presentations

These include a 32ft “landscape wall”, on to which computer generated images of the countryside around the circle and other ancient earthworks will be projected. In addition, there will be five “people films”, shown on screens in one of the two vast pods built to house the visitor centre. These will provide information about the monument and prehistoric items on display. There will also be films exploring the conflicting theories over the establishment and use of the circle and the most advanced forensic reconstruction of an early Neolithic man’s face.

Prehistoric Objects on Display

Reconstructed Face of a 5,500 Year-old Man

Reconstructed Face of a 5,500 Year-old Man

Pic: Stonehenge

Hundreds of prehistoric objects from the Stonehenge World Heritage Site are on display at the visitor centre. Here we have selected just nine of them for you to explore in more detail. All the objects are on loan from Salisbury & South Wiltshire Museum and Wiltshire Museum, Devizes. We recommend a visit to these two museums to find out more about the prehistory of the Stonehenge area. [English Heritage]. There are also nearly 300 prehistoric artefacts on display, all of which were found inside the World Heritage Site, with many on public display for the first time.

Outside the centre, replica Neolithic dwellings have also been built, where visitors will be able to see how early inhabitants of the sites lived. Using archaeological evidence and authentic materials, the buildings are intended to provided visitors with an insight into life 4,500 years ago. Among the exhibits is a reconstruction of the wooden roller system which many archaeologists believe primitive man used to transport the huge stones at least part of the journey from quarries in south west Wales, 240 miles away.

Major renovations of surrounding area

The new visitor centre, designed by architects Denton Corker Marshall, is part of a major project to transform the site, which will include removing the existing car park, old visitor centre and fencing, restoring the landscape and shutting down the road. As a result of the closure of the A344 the monument will be reunited with The Avenue – the ancient processional approach to the stone circle. In January work will start on removing the existing facilities and returning the car park to grass, to be complete by the end of June next year.
Reconstruction of Roller System

Reconstruction of Roller System

Pic: Telegraph

A shuttle will now take visitors from the new centre up to the stone circle, which they can view, although those who prefer to walk will be able to complete the last section of the journey on foot. English Heritage’s chief executive Simon Thurley said:

This world famous monument, perpetually described as a mystery, finally has a place in which to tell its story.

A Modern Druid’s Perspective

For some years now the famous monument has been at the centre of controversy between some pagans and some archaeologists regarding both the treatment of the human skeletal remains discovered on or near the site and access to the site, with some heated arguments on both sides. Corwen Broch, renowned Druid and Ancient Music Scholar/Practitioner from the Ancient Technology Centre writes about the new centre. He says:

Corwen Broch - Ancient Music Specialist

Corwen Broch – Ancient Music Specialist

Pic: Kate & Corwen

Firstly some thoughts about the location and the building. The new visitor centre is a considerable distance from the stones. The stones can’t be seen from it, although it has some good views of the surrounding countryside. The building is interesting, a single roof covers two distinct ‘pods’, one of which, clad with timber, holds the ‘gallery’ (museum) and the other made of glass holds the cafe and shop. The space between the two makes a fairly wide atrium which holds the ticket booth, and to be honest is a bit of a wind tunnel in the winter, though it will be wonderful in the summer when the majority of visits are made. The tickets now cost around £15 for adults, almost twice what it cost before. I think this reflects the improved facilities, but is a little overpriced. I’d have been happy to pay £10 to £12. Once the Neolithic buildings are finished it will feel better value perhaps as there will be more to see.

The shop is large and has a very good selection of books, including some of the more thoughtful Pagan and Druid books and a lot of history and archaeology books. I know I’ll be going back for these. The new guidebook by Julian Richards is £4.99 and very good value, well written, informative and brilliantly illustrated. I wasn’t able to buy a copy of the exhibition guide as they were out of stock.

Step out of the circular cinema and ahead is a group of interpretation boards with the grand name of The Meaning Totems. These have some quotes on them, and there are more diverse literary quotes on the wall too. There is also a film playing in this area on four screens, which has a potted history of the various interpretations antiquarians and archaeologists have made of Stonehenge over the last few centuries. The film includes a disappointingly brief reference to how some modern people think the site is important, annoyingly misusing the word ‘spiritualism’. This absence of the contemporary is a big gap in the permanent exhibition.

Honouring the Ancient Dead

Now some background to the debate; for several years a Pagan pressure group called Honouring the Ancient Dead (HAD) have been campaigning to encourage reburial or failing that the sensitive display of human remains. HAD have consulted with both Pagans and museum professionals and drawn up a code of best practice for the display of human remains, which you can read here. Also more recently Mr Arthur Pendragon and his allies have been campaigning vigorously to have the cremated human remains found in one of Stonehenge’s Aubrey Holes reburied rather than displayed in the visitor centre, and indeed they were protesting outside the visitor centre today.

I personally am not opposed to the display and retention of human remains providing they are displayed sensitively. In fact I’d go so far as to say I am in favour of the display of human remains as I feel they can be a tangible link to the lives of our ancestors in a way nothing else can. All that said however the remains at Stonehenge are not displayed sensitively. They are in the same cases as antler picks and reconstructed arrows which seems to symbolically reduce them to the status of inanimate objects rather than what was once the remains of a thinking feeling human being. One person’s bones in particular are wired together and displayed upright fixed to a board in a way that made me viscerally uncomfortable. It is extremely saddening to me that English Heritage did not take a middle way with these remains and at least abide by HAD’s best practice guidelines. The current lack of sensitivity seems almost calculated to prolong the controversy and the protestations and plays into the hands of those most opposed to the display of human remains whilst making it difficult for those of us in favour of display to defend English Heritage.
Finished Reconstruction

Finished Reconstruction

Pic: Stonehenge

Waiting for the Land Train

The only fly in the ointment at the Henge end of things was the long wait for the land train to pick us up. Today the wind was blowing strongly and it was raining quite hard, pretty usual conditions for Salisbury Plain, yet there is no shelter of any kind or even a fence to break the wind while you wait. We stood in the rain for 10 minutes whilst the tourists around us began to shiver and shake in their thin clothes, unprepared as they were for an extended period outdoors in the British weather. My advice then is to wrap up very warm and bring waterproofs as an umbrella will probably not cut it in Salisbury Plain’s famous wind…

So to conclude the visitor centre is vastly improved. The exhibition succeeds in its aim of setting Stonehenge in its context and answering the most commonly raised questions whilst providing a more in depth experience for those who seek it. The shop is good and the cafe although basic is serviceable and not overpriced. The Neolithic buildings when finished will be very interesting and really enhance the visitor’s experience. The setting of the Stones themselves is enormously improved.

If the human remains were displayed more sensitively I would be completely happy.

Read the rest of Corwen’s superb review and thoughts about the new visitor centre on his and Kate’s blog – Kate & Corwen’s Blog.

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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 Handster at http://www.handster.com/celtic_myth.html or by using the QR code opposite. It’s also found on the Opera Marketplace in the US.

You can now also find the Windows 8 Phone App in the Windows 8 Phone Store.

Windows 8 Phone App

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.

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Dec 06 2013

Unique opportunity to study Welsh Mythology online with Dr. Gwilym Morus!

The White Stag

The White Stag

Pic: vsvevg

How do you fancy a chance to take part in an 8-week course on the Symbolic Keys of Welsh Mythology with Dr. Gwilym Morus, a renowned expert in medieval Welsh Bardic Culture and Welsh Mythology in a small group over Skype? I know I’d love the opportunity! Well, the chance will come up on 8th January 2014! Dr. Morus gained his doctorate at the School of Welsh at Bangor University and currently lectures at Aberystwth University and is a well-known Guest Blogger on this site.

We can join him as he explores the Four Branches of the Mabinogi in great depth by placing them in the context of the Bards that created the stories and the society that listened to them. He is also going to explore the symbols used in the tales with the aid of Carl Jung‘s psychological understanding of symbols. Dr. Morus also draws upon the work of Joseph Campbell, author of The Hero with a Thousand Faces, to help us understand the role of mythology in understanding our own lives and how it fits in with the stories as they were told to medieval audiences and how they have evolved over the centuries.

The Four Branches of the Mabinogi

The Four Branches of the Mabinogi are amongst the most fascinating Celtic myths. Written down sometime in the 12th century, they are the remnants of a much older oral tradition that has its roots in the pre-Celtic cultures of Europe. They preserve in symbolic form the native wisdom tradition of the Welsh, the ancient lore of the medieval Welsh bards – a class of powerful poets and councillors who were themselves descendants of the druids. But these treasure troves of Welsh medieval literature do not give up their riches easily. The Four Branches are dense and stratified texts, containing within them many levels of meaning not necessarily grasped on the first, second or even third reading. As Dr. Morus says:

I was exposed to these tales as a child, and I have worked with them in creative and academic contexts for most of my adult life, yet I still find new paths of meaning to follow each time I venture into this ancient otherworld.

What’s So Special About This Course?

In two words: Personal Contact! We can interact with Gwilym and ask him questions about what he is teaching us, find out more about how we interpret these symbols and establish a personal working relationship with our tutor! All of this in a group no larger than 8 people. Now that’s cool!The aim of the course is to guide us towards an understanding of the Symbolic Keys within the tales. Symbolic Keys that unlock deeper levels of meaning. Access to these deeper levels of meaning can be achieved by meditating upon the symbolic significance of characters, events and relationships that feature in the tales. These symbolic keys can then in turn unlock the deeper structures of the branches, revealing greater themes that explore profound spiritual and philosophical truths.
Gwilym Morus

Gwilym Morus

Pic: Welsh Mythology

Once we have glimpsed the strange, half-lit otherworld contained within, once we have touched on the greater truths the tales explore, we can begin to see their deeper meaning and purpose.

The Mabinogi are one of the most important branches of Celtic mythology – a medieval collection of Welsh myths that have their roots in an ancient Celtic oral tradition – and this course offers you a rare opportunity to explore them in depth, to learn about the Welsh bardic tradition and the symbols hidden within these fantastical tales.

What’s in the Course?

Gwilym has made a superb introductory video to tell us exactly what is going to happen each week. Check it out below…

Each week students will be invited to take part in a 90 minute online discussion led by Dr Gwilym Morus via Skype. Each discussion will refer to a file of course materials sent via e-mail before hand.

Week 1 – Defining our terms
Week 2 – The Welsh Bardic Tradition
Week 3 – The Four Branches of the Mabinogi
Week 4 – The Symbolic Keys of the First Branch
Week 5 – The Symbolic Keys of the Second Branch
Week 6 – The Symbolic Keys of the Third Branch
Week 7 – The Symbolic Keys of the Fourth Branch
Week 8 – Unlocking the lower levels

The Welsh Bardic Tradition

As has been said many times these last few centuries, there is much more to the Welsh myths than first meets the eye. The Mabinogi, the medieval collection of earlier Celtic British tales, is clearly a dense, multilayered text always hinting at deeper layers of meaning.

Most of these deeper meanings can be unlocked if we view the myths from the perspective of the tradition that gave birth to them, that is the Welsh bardic tradition. The poetry of medieval Wales is deeply intertwined with the Mabinogi, with much of the court poetry of the time drawing heavily on these native sources of myth and lore.

It is clear that the bards were in part storytellers; likewise the storytellers were often bards of some kind or another. The bardic schools were involved in maintaining the native myths, which they preserved, renewed and retold. In doing so, successive generations of apprenticed bards refined the oral tradition they inherited from their teachers, each generation in turn reducing the ancient materials to more potent and condensed forms.

As a result, the texts themselves have developed many levels of meaning, as each generation’s collective meditation upon these ancient symbols has been slowly fossilised in the strata of the myths’ geology. When we find these fossilised symbols buried in the medieval text of the Mabinogi, we can use them to unlock the deeper, stratified levels of meaning that would otherwise remain hidden.

By viewing the Mabinogi from within the context of the Welsh bardic tradition, Dr Gwilym Morus reveals the symbolic keys embedded in these native tales, and explores the great psychological sophistication and wisdom, bringing to light the deeper purpose of these myths.

More about Dr. Gwilym Morus

Gwilym singing in traditional Bardic metres

Gwilym singing in traditional Bardic metres

Pic: Welsh Mythology

He began his studies in Welsh medieval literature in 2002 as a mature student enrolled on the Welsh literature degree course at The School of Welsh, Bangor University. He then went on to complete a Masters and a Doctorate at the department. His particular area of expertise is medieval Welsh bardic culture and Welsh mythology, two strands that feature heavily in his music. During his studies he worked as a research fellow at the Library of Congress, Washington DC. He is one of the few practitioners of traditional Welsh bardic declamation. He currently runs online courses on Welsh Mythology and the Welsh Bardic Tradition and lectures at Aberystwyth University. Find out more about his beautiful music and superb contribution to the Welsh Music Industry on his music website, caneuon.com.

Find out more about this superb (and very reasonably priced!) course on the website at welshmythology.com. The Course Requirements are that each student will require a Skype account with which to take part in the discussions and the ability to access the internet during the discussions. Discussion times will be agreed upon before hand. As much as possible, students from similar timezones will be grouped together. There will be sessions for both UK and US time-zones.

To register for this course or talk to Dr. Morus, please visit his Contact page.

I want a place, please! :)

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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.

 

iphone

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 also found on the Opera Marketplace in the US.

You can now also find the Windows 8 Phone App in the Windows 8 Phone Store.

Windows 8 Phone App

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.

No responses yet

Nov 24 2013

Looking at Symbols in Celtic Mythology, by Guest Blogger Dr. Gwilym Morus

Cernunnos, from the Gundestrup Cauldron

Cernunnos, from the Gundestrup Cauldron

Pic: Wiki

We’re very proud to bring you a Guest Blog by Dr. Gwilym Morus, whose Doctorate in the field of medieval Welsh Bardic Culture and Welsh Mythology makes him uniquely qualified to help us explore the meaning of Celtic symbols. When looking at the symbols in the wonderful image of ‘Cernunnos’, the Celtic God, on one of the panels of the Gundestrup Cauldron, for example, we have to be deeply immersed  in the symbols in the image to gain an understanding of their meaning. Symbols such as the Antlers, the Torc and the phallic-like, ‘horned’ serpent carry many subtle and deep meanings. Here he examines how mythological symbols are closer to living beings than dead archaeological remains.

Being at a Distance from the Culture that gave Birth to the Symbol

When trying to interpret myths and their symbols we usually find ourselves doing so at some distance from the culture that gave birth to them. Surviving texts have very often been long separated from their original social contexts, orphans of a long dead mother tongue. With such a lack of contextual information, often our only guide is our own intuition. When we do come across motifs and symbols we don’t understand, they don’t necessarily stay meaningless for very long. Our minds are naturally stimulated into interpreting what we see, and ascribing meaning is an instinctive human response. If we stare at it for long enough, a particular symbol will always inevitably slip into one meaningful context or another, be it a simple day dream or a full blown giant leap of understanding. That’s because each one of us carries around inside ourselves a deep pool of reflection from within which we will invariably draw a Rorschach meaning. Clearly, a purely personal interpretation of a mythological symbol won’t always tell us much about the source culture that gave birth to it, especially if we are greatly removed from that culture. Its reasonable to look for comparators in such cases, similar symbols either from within the source culture itself, or if that’s not available to us then symbols from other similar cultures.

The Importance of Recognizing Subjective Assumptions

But even these comparisons tend to be selective readings, where we find ourselves inevitably making quite subjective assumptions that we can mistake for objective comparisons. Although great care needs to be taken when interpreting such elusive things as myths and their symbols, it is far better if we can admit to our more subjective responses before we assume them to be common facts. Only after doing so will we be able to see our subjective responses clearly enough to separate them from the actual material itself. But after separating them out, we should neither neglect to consider these shadowy, internal responses. Interpretation of mythological and symbolic material is sometimes automatic and instinctive; that has some value if handled the right way.
Subjective Perception

Subjective Perception

Pic: Mythic Dreams.org

If we are correct in regarding at least some myths as collective works of great art, dense and stratified texts with layers of accumulated and condensed meanings, attempting to grasp them without using our own creative intellect would seem to be missing the point.

A useful approach in trying to understand a myth and its symbols is to look at the situation in which they arose. But making assumptions about a myth by re-creating its social context isn’t as straight forward as it sounds, and generally its impossible to do so without leaning somewhat on our own innate common sense regarding what a symbol can and cannot do, what it is and what it isn’t. It is a mistake to think that any old legend can simply be analyzed like an antique box, prodded and tinkered with until it finally pops open to reveal its hidden curiosities, all without any creative engagement by the researchers themselves.

If this is the best that can be done, it will be very difficult to really get to grips with the material: an overly objective, classificatory investigation is usually doomed to be quite boring. To get to grips with the material we need to let it sink in and stir up our own subjective responses. Either we approach myths and their symbols as active, engaging, stimulating cultural artifacts or we simply classify their perceived forms and leave it at that.

Myths are more akin to Living Animals than Dead Constructs

Human Brain as a Machine

Human Brain as a Machine

Pic: H+ Magazine

A mythological symbol is probably more akin to a living animal than a dead construct, yet there is a danger of assuming that symbols and myths have almost machine-like workings. That is an unfortunate and pervasive influence of some of the natural sciences: depicting the human body as a mechanical thing does not mean that everything it creates, even its ideas, are necessarily mechanical constructs. That is a very difficult position to unknowingly start from if you wish to investigate what is essentially the subjective, generationally condensed and often instinctively created myths of a whole culture of sophisticated, conscious (and subconscious) animals.

As well as holding on to the rational, more objective techniques of study that we have refined over the millennia, its important to remember that the interpretation of myth and symbol is more of an art than a science: a great myth, like any great work of art, can only ever truly be grasped by the creative imagination. The tendency to narrow the concepts of myth and symbol to simple mechanics of meaning needs to be avoided. Just because a word has a set dictionary definition, does not imply that all vessels of meaning, including symbols, allegories and metaphors have similarly two-dimensional definitions.

As Jung pointed out some time ago, (1) it is far too simplistic to see symbol and defined meaning as two sides of the same straight-forward equation. The Saussurean concept (the view that language is a network of inter-related elements in contrast) is a useful spring-board for developing ideas about language, but symbols tend to be more complex than simple signs pointing to clearly defined signified counterparts. Language – just like myth and symbol – is not a binary code. A complex, long lived symbol will give birth to multiple meanings, and will sometimes evolve beyond its more superficial cultural boundaries. As a result, very often comparative mythology can only ever be a guideline; it may even only serve as a creative primer for a more direct, intuitive interpretation.

Taking an in-depth look at what any mythological symbol means is far more complex than the closed sign / signified duality. A myth and its embedded symbols are quite often multifaceted, containing many dimensions of meaning at the same instant, with significances from the personal to the collective and encompassing much of what lies in between. All of these dimensions need to be brought into view if we are ever to succeed in interpreting a symbol honestly, and come close to discerning some of its history and development.

(1) There’s a great essay that discusses Jung’s position here: http://theredbookofcgjung.blogspot.co.uk/2009/12/jung-on-symbols-and-self.html

Read the full article and more about the Myth And Symbol in Welsh Mythology on Dr. Morus’ Blog.

 

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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.

 

iphone

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 also found on the Opera Marketplace in the US.

You can now also find the Windows 8 Phone App in the Windows 8 Phone Store.

Windows 8 Phone App

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.

No responses yet

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