Sep 07 2014

Research proving Celtic Myths reaches its third year!


Symposium Speakers
Pic: University of Wales
The ‘Ancient Britain and the Atlantic Zone’ project, based at the University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies at Aberystwyth, held its third annual forum at the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff on Saturday 4 June. So reads the ground-breaking news from the University of Wales.

An audience of over a hundred heard experts presenting cutting-edge research in the fields of archaeology, genetics and linguistics. Project leader Professor John Koch began by setting out the implications of his ground-breaking work on the Tartessian inscriptions of the south-west Iberian Peninsula, dating back as far as the 8th century BC, which he argues to be the earliest attested Celtic language.

The Tartessian Language

This evidence suggests that the Celtic languages evolved, not in central Europe as traditionally thought, but in the west along the Atlantic façade. Connectivity in that region during the Bronze Age and Neolithic was explored by archaeologists Stuart Needham, Catriona Gibson and Professor Sir Barry Cunliffe, emphasising the importance of seaways and metalworking technologies in the spread of shared cultural traditions and language(s). 

The potential contribution of genetics to the study of historic populations was considered by Professor Sir Walter Bodmer of Oxford University, leader of the People of the British Isles Project, and Professor Mark Jobling of Leicester University. Dating genetic diversity is still problematic, but it is anticipated that developments in the use of ancient DNA will provide evidence of population movements within the region in question.

Interdisciplinary approaches

Interdisciplinary approaches are essential to move research forward in this field, and it was clear from the discussion at the end of the day that the project is drawing together collaborations which are beginning to produce exciting synergies. 

Papers from the project’s first forum were published in Celtic from the West, edited by Barry Cunliffe and John Koch (Oxbow, 2010), and papers from last year’s forum held at Oxford are due to be published later this year. For John Koch’s work on the Iberian Peninsula inscriptions see his volume Tartessian 2, just published by CAWCS. (also see John Koch’2 2009 report on Tartessian.)

Our thoughts

This is one of the first major investigations to involve multi-disciplinary experts to uncover the truth behind a theory and what an excellent approach it is! They should also be including historians as well as historical anthropologists in the research as the reports published even in their first year of research showed the strong likelihood that the Celts evolved from Ireland, Britain and the Iberian Peninsula and moved towards central Europe and not the other way round – turning the traditional model of Celtic spread on its head. Its really rather wonderful that this research also happens to agree with what the Celts said themselves in their myths, stories and histories about their own origins. We just haven’t found or identified the four islands that the Tuatha De Danaan originated from. Following the inhabitation of Ireland by the Children of Danu, the Milesians were said to have come from the Iberian peninsula. Exactly how much of what we have so far considered as fanciful story is going to prove to be truth? We can’t wait to find out!

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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 Descripition 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.

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Originally posted 2011-06-19 09:01:03. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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Aug 26 2014

Episode 39 Prophecy of the Druid is now available for you!

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Celtic Myth Podshow LogoPic: Celtic Myth Podshow The latest episode in the First Branch of the Mabinogi – Prophecy of the Druid – is now out and available for you to download or listen to. This is Episode 10 of the First Branchi: Pwyll, Prince of Dyfed. Pwyll and Rhiannon are finally married and enjoying the feasting in the Halls of the Otherworld. It is not too long before Pwyll and his Companions get homesick for Dyfed, the land of their Birth. Pwyll and Rhiannon decide to head back to Dyfed where they are faced with an unexpected prophecy!

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?

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We hope you enjoy it and wish you many blessings :D

Gary & Ruthie x x x

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Jun 14 2014

The mystery of the Fulacht Fiadh or Burnt Mound

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Reconstruction of a burnt mound being used as a sweat house

Reconstruction of a burnt mound being used as a sweat house

Pic: Irish Archaeology

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

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

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

Pit for holding Water into which Hot Stones were placed

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

A timber lined trough, Rathmore, Co. Wicklow

Pic: Irish Archaeology

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

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

Different Theories on how Burnt Mounds were used

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

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

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

References

Archaeology Ireland. Wordwell, Dublin.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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Jun 04 2014

Neanderthals aren’t grunting, club-wielding idiots – we are

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Cave Painting

Cave Painting

Pic: icantcu

They’ve long been maligned as grunting, club-wielding idiots, but apparently we’ve got Neanderthals all wrong. Misled by their simple tools (clubs) and simple language (grunting) we have stereotyped them as primitive beings – but this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, according to recent research, Neanderthals were no less intelligent than their modern human contemporaries.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Neanderthals aren’t grunting, club-wielding idiots – we are” was written by Martha Gill, for theguardian.com on Friday 2nd May 2014 11.45 UTC

They’ve long been maligned as grunting, club-wielding idiots, but apparently we’ve got Neanderthals all wrong. Misled by their simple tools (clubs) and simple language (grunting) we have stereotyped them as primitive beings – but this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, according to recent research, Neanderthals were no less intelligent than their modern human contemporaries.

After careful study of archaeological records, scientists in the Netherlands found evidence to suggest that Neanderthals were just as advanced in culture, weaponry and hunting as our human forebears. According to those scientists, the misunderstanding came about because people had been comparing Neanderthals to their successors, who had more advanced tools, rather than their contemporaries. Which is rather like assuming I am more advanced than my parents because I know how to work an iPhone. But this doesn’t make my parents any less intelligent … just obsolete and unable to function in this modern, fast-paced world.

So, what we have here is an ugly, ugly stereotype; a stereotype that needs to be quashed. As ever, the Guardian is the perfect place to start that process – and perhaps even to “rebrand” the Neanderthal. After all, when you really think about it, aren’t we the real club-wielding prehistoric creatures?

Take some of our most pressing modern concerns. To pick just one example, let’s look at the unpalatable truth about quinoa. All evidence suggests that Neanderthal food was both organic and locally sourced. But unlike modern man, Neanderthals were not “consciously ethical” consumers so preoccupied with “personal health, animal welfare and reducing their carbon ‘foodprint'” that they drove up the price of a staple grain beyond the grasp of local Bolivians. No.

Not for them, either, the errors of cupcake fascism. They refrained from such products which, as has been pointed out, “treat their audience as children, and more specifically the children of the middle classes – perfect special snowflakes full of wide-eyed wonder and possibility” and thereby “succeed as expressions of a desire on behalf of consumers to always and for ever be children, by telling consumers not only that this is OK, but also that it is, to a real degree, possible.” Which was really wise of them.

And neither were Neanderthal women held up to ridiculously high beauty standards. They were not impelled to shave their legs in order to live up to unreachable social ideals concocted by a controlling patriarchy.

And finally, Neanderthals had the skills that will really matter post-rewilding. When George Monbiot has his way and wolves, bears, bison and lynx roam Britain (sheep cast finally into the furthest pit of hell), we’ll be relying on our hunting nous. Only then, as we square up to a hungry grizzly, will we know who the club-wielding idiots truly are.

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

Published via the Guardian News Feed plugin for WordPress.

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

 

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May 30 2014

Béal Beo: The Cylinder Project, Gobán Saor and the Fairy in the Sea

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Recording onto a Wax Cylinder

Recording onto a Wax Cylinder

Pic: Béal Beo

The audio archive of the National Folklore Collection, University College Dublin, houses some 1,100 wax cylinder recordings of folk narratives, folk song and folk music. The earliest of these date from the 1890s on the occasion of the first national Feis Ceoil competitions, which were held in Dublin and Belfast. This unique collection spans almost sixty years of folklore recording up to the mid 20th century. A selection is now available online at Béal Beo.

Among the amazing records and stories that have been captured – along with tgranscipts or English translations –  are some superb tales about Gobán Saor – the  highly skilled smith or architect in Irish history and legend. 

Gobán Saor

Gobban Saer (Gobban the Builder) is a figure regarded in Irish traditional lore as an architect of the seventh century, and popularly canonized as St. Gobban. The Catholic Encyclopedia considers him historical and born at Turvey, on the Donabate peninsula in North County Dublin, about 560.

In literary references, he was employed by many Irish saints to build churches, oratories, and bell towers, and he is alluded to in an eighth-century Irish poem, preserved in a monastery in Carinthia. In the “Life of St. Abban” it is said that “the fame of Gobban as a builder in wood as well as stone would exist in Ireland to the end of time.”

In Gobán Saor can be seen elements of Goibniu, the Old Irish god of smithcraft. His name can be compared with the Old Irish gobae ~ gobann ‘smith,’ Middle Welsh gof ~ gofein ‘smith,’ Gallic gobedbi ‘with the smiths,’ Latin faber ‘smith’ and with the Lithuanian gabija ‘sacred home fire’ and Lithuanian gabus ‘gifted, clever’. [Wiki]

A portable Ediphone recording machine used by folklore collectors until the 1950s.

A portable Ediphone recording machine used by folklore collectors until the 1950s.

Pic: Béal Beo

A variety of tales are recorded about the Gobán Saor, the mythical master builder of Irish tradition. This particular account was recorded from the 77 year-old Mícheál Mac an Mháistir, from Lettera, Kilcommon, Co. Mayo by Proinnsias de Búrca, Irish Folkore Commission, on the 29 November 1937. The story goes like this:

“Sixty five years ago this Christmas, my grandfather was telling me a story about Gobán Saor. Gobán Saor was in this country in Ireland and he was the best craftsman in the seven kingdoms. No castle could be built anywhere that was of high quality but that Gobán was the master and looking after it. He went up making Dublin castle and was long years on that castle.

” He came down to Sligo and married a respectable handsome woman. He had a large holding of land and he went up to Dublin again. And when he married this woman he stayed with her six months. He had to go up to Dublin castle again looking after his craftsmen and men. Well, the King of England sent him a letter asking him and pleading with him to go across to himself to make a big palace for himself in England. And he didn’t go as far as him at that time.”

There are many more tales of legend, folklore and history recorded on these fabulous wax cyulinders and you can listen to them all on this superb website. You can hear the story of the four-leaf clover, songs like the Vagabond Song and Seoirse Chonamara as well as stories of the fairies.

A Fairy in the Sea

Three men went out fishing one day. They weren’t long out when they saw fish swimming around the boat… They were out about an hour and they were looking at the net, and one of the men said to another to throw his knife at the net, and the man took his knife out of his pocket and he threw it out into the sea, and it wasn’t long after that before the water was full of blood.

That was all very well, but the three [of them] went home that night, and about eleven o’clock, or about then, the man who threw the knife heard a noise outside the house, and he got up and went to the door, and who was there but a man on the back of a white horse. The man spoke to him, and he said:

‘You were fishing today, and you threw a knife, and you must come with me now and pull out that knife.’

‘Very well!’ said the man, and he went up onto the horse behind him, and as they were going on their way, the man on the white horse said to him: ‘When you go to this house, do not eat anything that they give you.’ They were travelling on and they came to the sea, and the horse walked under the sea until she came to a big house, and they knocked on the door, and a woman opened the door. And when the man went in, there was a woman standing by the fire and there was a knife stuck in the top of her head. The man went in and he pulled out the knife. The people inside said to him to drink tea, or eat something, and he said he wouldn’t eat it.

He went out again, and he went up on the horse with the man of the white horse. When they were going home, the man said to him never to go out fishing again. The man went to America for a few years. He came home, ten years later, and he said one evening, he was at the house and he was looking out at the sea, and he said to himself he would go out fishing. He went out in a boat, and nobody saw or heard anything about him since.

[Source]

This website is a wonderful resource of early Irish lore and Story as told on the earliest recordings we have. Well worth checking out at http://www.bealbeo.ie/index.html

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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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May 03 2014

Wales History Month Starts Today

The Welsh Dragon

The Welsh Dragon

Pic: Wales Online

Today, WalesOnline, in association with Cadw, launches Welsh History Month. Every day for the next four weeks, leading academics and historians from History Research Wales will ask, what is the most significant object in our past? Here, David Anderson, Director General of Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales, wonders if it’s the meaning we attach to objects that gives them their importance. Go to the Wales Online site to read the full article. David says:

If you had to select one object of particular significance to you, what would it be? The photograph of a loved one? The book that changed your thinking? The four-leaved clover you found and preserved when you were a child? The sampler your grandmother sewed?

If you had to choose one object of significance from Wales’s past, what would it be? A miner’s lamp? A Welsh Bible? A painting of a Welsh landscape? A suffragette banner? A Celtic cross? A photograph of a village choir? An early manuscript of the Mabinogion?

It is the meaning we attach to objects that gives them their significance. A few years ago, one museum invited members of the public to contribute images of their favourite objects to its website. Some wonderful stories emerged.

One woman submitted an image of a letter in her possession. This had been written during World War Two by her father, a newly married soldier, to his young wife back at home. The letter was not delivered.

After the War, the soldier returned home, and the couple had two daughters. The girls grew up and left home. The couple grew old. The husband died. The wife married again and moved away. The street where they had lived was demolished.

Then one day a nearby barn was knocked down. A bag of undelivered post was discovered hidden behind a wall. One night, not long after, there was a knock on the door of the wife’s new home. The Royal Mail had traced her and, sixty years after it was sent from the battlefield, she received the letter written by her first husband to her younger self. She opened it, and at once her world turned upside down.

Amgueddfa Cymru – the National Museum of Wales

Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales has seven sites spread across different parts of Wales. These include the National Slate Museum in Llanberis, the National Wool Museum in Drefach, the National Waterfront Museum in Swansea, the National Roman Legion Museum in Carleon, Big Pit: National Coal Museum in Blaenavon, and National Museum Cardiff. All have strong connections with their communities.

But no museum is as loved by so many people across Wales as St Fagans. Here the most precious objects are not necessarily treasures of great financial value, but the ordinary homes and objects once owned by someone’s aunt or grandparents, and taken to the museum from a place maybe only five or ten miles from where you live.

Over the next few years, with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Welsh Government, St Fagans will be developed to become the National Museum of History for Wales. For the first time, the nation will have a museum which brings together archaeological and historical collections from the earliest Neanderthal remains, dating to 230,000 BC, to the present.

St Fagans reminds us that culture is a living process, and that everyday objects, as much as great works of art, have the power to evoke memories, and to move and inspire us.

The past is all around us, in fields and beside the road, in town squares and in our own homes, should we choose to look. It is the foundation for our lives.

A critical understanding of how history is made by attributing meaning to this past, and how it may be used (or mis-used) in the present, is vital if we are to make informed choices about our future as a nation.

David Anderson is director-general of Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales

Read the full article on the Wales Online 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.

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.

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Originally posted 2013-04-27 12:10:34. 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

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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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Mar 27 2014

Ancient Butter found 2,500 years later in a Bog at Shancloon in Ireland

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Bog Butter in Wooden Urn

Bog Butter in Wooden Urn

Pic: Cork Butter Museum

Experts from the National Museum of Ireland believe that the ‘Bog Butter’ found in the bog at Shancloon, north of Galway, could be 2,000 to 2,500-years-old. The butter was found when Ray Moylan from Headford was having his annual turf supply cut by contractor Declan McDonagh. Moylan, a bus driver, contacted the Office of Public Works, Headland Archaeology in Galway and the National Museum of Ireland when he made the discovery.

The butter which was found in timber keg, made from the trunk of a tree, weighed almost 28 pounds. The keg was built using Iron Age implements. It was buried three to four-foot away.

An assistant keeper with the National Museum of Ireland, Padraig Clancy, said that the butter could be up to 2,500 years old. Clancy along with Karena Morton conservator at the National Museum of Country Life, removed the butter from the bog. It will be brought to the National Museum’s facility in Lanesboro. Clancy said:

The type of vessel it is in usually helps us to date the period the butter is from, and this one could date back to the Iron Age.

Archaeologist Ross MacLeod commented on the quantity of butter discovered in Galway. Speaking to the Irish Times he said:

It would have been a substantial loss to the family that buried the butter in the bog that they never recovered it. Perhaps the person who buried it died or forgot where it was left… That might have been stored up by a family during the summer and put into the bog for use during the cold winter months. Its loss could have been a tremendous one for some family a long, long time ago.

Bogs were used as a primitive form of refrigeration by people in the past. The peat creates a vacuum around buried material.

Read more: http://www.irishcentral.com/news/bog-butter-find-believed-to-be-2500-years-old-121769889-237387291.html#ixzz2x9uRgxF3

Votive Offerings

Another theory that is sometimes seen with the discovery of Bog Treasures like this, is that the object would have been a votive offering – an offering to the Gods. Butter, no doubt seen as a highly valuable and prized commodity, would have been ideally suited as an offering and 2,500 years ago the Butter would have been placed in watery marsh, and probably not buried. Bogs tend to develop as the marshland dries out. Rather than thinking that this Buttery treasure had been forgotten by its owner, it seems far more likely to me that the churn was gifted to the Gods in the hopes of gaining their favour, much as other votive offerings have been found throughout Celtic Europe. Jane McIntosh, Handbook to Life in Prehistoric Europe, p. 256 refers to…

packages or pots of “bog butter” (that) have been found, probably placed in bogs or lakes in the Bronze or Iron Age. These may have been votive offerings or simply placed in water to keep cool in summer months and never retrieved.

Rubicon Heritage continues. Theories about the origins of Bog Butter deposits are divided between two schools. The first suggests ritual `votive offerings´ – the deliberate deposition of the casks in honour of/supplication to a deity. The second school proposes `human error´ – accidental deposition either as a result of forgetfulness or the death of the owner. Bogs would have acted as a reliable form of refrigeration for a winter stock of butter surplus and the unfortunate owners of the butter failed to adequately mark the stockpile.

The IPCC (Irish Peatland Conservation Council) lists a reference to a recipe for Bog Butter from an account of Irish food written by Dinely in 1681: ‘Butter, layed up in wicker baskets, mixed with a sort of garlic and buried for some time in a bog to make a provision of an high taste for Lent’.

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Mar 25 2014

Confessions Of A Westcountry Witch-finder – lost book finally discovered

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Jason Semmens

Jason Semmens

Pic: Academia.edu

AS if by magic, an important 50,000-word manuscript for an unpublished book on Cornish folklore, assumed long-destroyed, has just been rediscovered This is Cornwall reported in 2009. The guest speaker at the Winter Festival of the Federation of Old Cornwall Societies, Jason Semmens, pictured left, announced the news to an audience of 200 members in Wadebridge Town Hall.

He said that quite by chance the federation’s publications officer, Anne Knight, had received the missing manuscript to catalogue as part of her work for Cornwall Library Service. It had been deposited at the Cornwall Centre in Redruth after being found and rescued during a house clearance.

Mr Semmens – whose book, The Cornish Witch-finder: William Henry Paynter And The Witchery, Ghosts, Charms And Folklore Of Cornwall was published by the federation last year – said he had been looking for the lost manuscript for many years.

He said the book, entitled Abracadabra, or Confessions Of A Westcountry Witch-finder, had been written by Bill Paynter, who died before it could be published.

It contains a wealth of folklore information collected in the early 20th Century. Founder of Callington Old Cornwall Society, Mr Paynter was made a bard in 1930 and chose the name Whyler Pystry (Seeker of Witchcraft).

Mr Semmens announced the discovery during a talk on the theme of witchcraft, conjurors, cunning folk and charmers in Cornish folklore.

You can visit the Federation of Old Cornwall Societies and learn much more about some of the old histories of Cornwall. You can also find them on Facebook.

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Mar 07 2014

The Wild Men of Europe bring fertility to the land

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Sauvage at carnival in Switzerland

Sauvage at carnival in Switzerland

Pic: Charles Fréger

They become bears, stags, and devils. They evoke death but bestow fertile life. They live in the modern era, but they summon old traditions reports Rachel Hartigan Shea for the National Geographic. A primal heart still beats in Europe. Deep beneath the gloss of cell phone sophistication lie rituals that hark back to harvests and solstices and fear of the winter dark. Monsters loom in this shadowy heart, but so does the promise of spring’s rebirth and fertile crops and women cradling newborn babes.

It turns out that Europe—at least pockets of it—has not lost its connection to nature’s rhythms. That connection is rekindled during festivals that occur across the continent from the beginning of December until Easter. The celebrations correspond to Christian holidays, but the rituals themselves often predate Christianity.

The roots are difficult to trace. Men—and until recently, it has almost always been men—don costumes that hide their faces and conceal their true forms. Then they take to the streets, where their disguises allow them to cross the line between human and animal, real and spiritual, civilization and wilderness, death and rebirth. A man “assumes a dual personality,” says António Carneiro, who dresses as a devilish careto for Carnival in Podence, Portugal. “He becomes something mysterious.”

Photographer Charles Fréger set out to capture what he calls “tribal Europe” over two winters of travel through 19 countries. The forms of the costumes that he chronicled vary between regions and even between villages. In Corlata, Romania, men dress as stags reenacting a hunt with dancers. In Sardinia, Italy, goats, deer, boars, or bears may play the sacrificial role. Throughout Austria, Krampus, the beastly counterpart to St. Nicholas, frightens naughty children.

But everywhere there is the wild man. In France, he is l’Homme Sauvage; in Germany, Wilder Mann; in Poland, Macidula is the clownish version. He dresses in animal skins or lichen or straw or tree branches. Half man and half beast, the wild man stands in for the complicated relationship that human communities, especially rural ones, have with nature.

The bear is the wild man’s close counterpart—in some legends the bear is his father. A beast that walks upright, the bear also hibernates in winter. The symbolic death and rebirth of hibernation herald the arrival of spring with all its plenty. For festival participants, says Fréger,

Becoming a bear is a way to express the beast and a way to control the beast.

Festival of Bears, France

Festival of Bears, France

Pic: Charles Fréger

Traditionally the festivals are also a rite of passage for young men. Dressing in the garb of a bear or wild man is a way of “showing your power,” says Fréger. Heavy bells hang from many costumes to signal virility.

The question is whether Europeans—civilized Europeans—believe that these rituals must be observed in order for the land, the livestock, and the people to be fertile. Do they really believe that costumes and rituals have the power to banish evil and end winter? “They all know they shouldn’t believe it,” says Gerald Creed, who has studied mask traditions in Bulgaria. Modern life tells them not to. But they remain open to the possibility that the old ways run deep.

See the original article with all of Fréger’s photographs at the National Geographic website.

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

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