mediaevalist: (King Arthur as a girl)
And now we have the world's oldest lunar calendar.

'World's oldest calendar' discovered in Scottish field

Archaeologists believe they have discovered the world's oldest lunar "calendar" in an Aberdeenshire field.

Excavations of a field at Crathes Castle found a series of 12 pits which appear to mimic the phases of the moon and track lunar months.

A team led by the University of Birmingham suggests the ancient monument was created by hunter-gatherers about 10,000 years ago.


Holy cow, it's even older than the Mesopotamian ones. Definitely a find.
mediaevalist: (crossdressing)
Technically, these are back from different days of last month, but it's been a good day to learn about them.

Smuggled Out: Most Timbuktu Manuscripts Saved from Attacks

Far more of Timbuktu's priceless ancient manuscripts were saved from Islamist attacks than previosly thought, according to information from the German Foreign Ministry.

More than 200,000 of the documents, or about 80 percent of them, were smuggled to safety, says the ministry, which aided in the operation.
The ministry said many of the manuscripts, some of which date back to the 13th century, were driven out of Timbuktu in private vehicles and taken to the Malian capital, Bamako. Some of them were hidden under lettuce and fruit in an operation led by the head of the Mamma Haidara Memorial Library, Abdel Kader Haidara.


And back over in Scotland...

Selkirk water works unearth medieval village remains

The remains of a medieval village in the Borders have been uncovered during the laying of a new water main.

Scottish Water was carrying out the works at Philiphaugh on the outskirts of Selkirk.

It was laying new pipes between Howden and Yarrowford water treatment works when the discovery was made.

Initial studies suggested it was an Anglo-Saxon settlement, but closer inspection indicated it may have been the site of a medieval village.

Archaeologists found evidence of a number of stone buildings with stone floors across the entire area, with cobbled sections in between.


And finally...

Richard III tomb design proposed by society

A design for Richard III's tomb has been unveiled by an enthusiasts' group.

The Richard III Society said the 7ft (2.1m) long limestone monument would blend modern and medieval style decorations to reflect the king's life.

The group was closely involved in the project to find the lost king's remains, which was confirmed last week.

Leicester Cathedral, where Richard is expected to be reinterred in 2014, said it would consider ideas but no decision had yet been made.
mediaevalist: (Default)
Early medieval royal stronghold discovered on Trusty's Hill in southwest Scotland

Recently, historians have started to doubt that the Pictish stone carvings were genuine, since the carvings are rather far from the historically Pict-controlled lands in the north-east.

The Galloway Picts Excavation did indeed uncover an early mediaeval Pictish fort on the site, with considerable evidence of ritual activity.

The Galloway Picts Project has more information on the ongoing excavations.
mediaevalist: (King Arthur as a girl)
Previously, archaeologists had been searching for the mediaeval city of Dunwich, the capital of East Anglia 1,500 years ago. But now it looks as if just beyond that was an entire country that was slowly submerged between between 18,000 BC and 5,500 BC, well before the mediaeval period.

'Britain's Atlantis' found at bottom of North sea - a huge undersea world swallowed by the sea in 6500BC

The article isn't clear about whether there's any connection between the earlier project and this one, if in searching for Dunwich, evidence of a much older civilisation was discovered. From my own view, these are probably unrelated except for the fact that undersea archaeology seems to be the big thing now for much of archaeology in Britain.
mediaevalist: (Philosophy)
Wow, it's been a while. I remember this site from years back. It's gone now, apparently, but just about all the pages are archived for our convenience. Huzzah!

Some of the stuff on general New Age beliefs like Wicca aren't entirely accurate, but the primary function here is historical and cultural preservation. Nothing against Wiccans, but they're perfectly capable of defending their own religion. But there's a number of points on the essay which got me there that I feel need addressing. Kaathryn MacMorgan, while stressing the need to do all the research, trips up and commits that very same mistake when it comes to the Holy Church here. As we like to tell people who claim they distrust "organised religion", our comeback is always "So do I! That's why I'm Catholic!" And we have nothing on Judaism in that regard.

Onward into what's probably just a repeat of anything C. S. Lewis already addressed )
mediaevalist: (LOL)
Kelburn, Scotland's graffiti castle

Not surprisingly, it's caused quite a stir. And so typically Glasweigan. We never take things seriously.

The Earl of Glasgow, whose family has occupied the castle for the last 800 years, invited four Brazilian graffiti artists to create a work of art on one of the walls in 2007 as a temporary measure. The so-called Graffiti Project involved 1,500 cans of spray paint to decorate the 13th-century castle. It put Kelburn Castle, which lies near the seaside town of Largs on Scotland's west coast, into the top 10 worldwide examples of street art - on the same list as Banksy's work in Los Angeles and Rio de Janeiro's Favela Morro da Providencia.


It's the kind of thing you typically see when the scaffolding starts going up around historic buildings in Scotland's usual springtime ritual, not to mention the world over when renovation's being done. The difference now is that the art itself has garnered so much attention that the family now wants to keep it up.

Fortunately, it seems like most share my opinion of "Let 'em keep it!"

Neil Baxter, secretary and treasurer of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS), says Scots take their historic treasures seriously, but believes the right balance must be struck when dealing with old buildings such as Kelburn Castle.

"The graffiti's a bit of thumbing of the nose at the conservationists who are terribly precious about our environment, and that's always good fun but you don't want to cause the building permanent damage," he said. If the building is fine and stable, there is no harm to it, then fine - paint it bright pink."

Buildings shouldn't be considered museum pieces, he added, but should continue to contribute to society: "Buildings are useless if they are not alive."


I love that quote. I really do. In fact, I am shamelessly ripping it off.
mediaevalist: (King Arthur as a girl)
The Round Table might have been found.

Yep, Scootland.

The King's Knot, a geometrical earthwork in the former royal gardens below Stirling Castle, has been shrouded in mystery for hundreds of years. Though the Knot as it appears today dates from the 1620s, its flat-topped central mound is thought to be much older. Writers going back more than six centuries have linked the landmark to the legend of King Arthur.


I've seen this mound when I visited Stirling Castle. At the time, I was more fixated on the crazy-ass story about how James II had murdered the 8th Earl of Douglas when he refused to end his alliance with the Earl of Ross and the Earl of Crawford (which James considered treasonous) by stabbing him 26 times (how did they find that number?) and tossing the body out the window into the garden below.

If I had know the friggin Round Table was out in the King's Knot, I would have paid less attention to the possibility of Douglas's ghost wandering around the inner garden.

Archaeologists from Glasgow University, working with the Stirling Local History Society and Stirling Field and Archaeological Society, conducted the first ever non-invasive survey of the site in May and June in a bid to uncover some of its secrets.


Yeah, well. Glasgow. There was a reason I was sent there for Celtic Archaeology studies.

Historian John Harrison, chair of the SLHS, who initiated the project, said: "Archaeologists using remote-sensing geophysics, have located remains of a circular ditch and other earth works beneath the King's Knot.

"The finds show that the present mound was created on an older site and throws new light on a tradition that King Arthur's Round Table was located in this vicinity."

Stories have been told about the curious geometrical mound for hundreds of years -- including that it was the Round Table where King Arthur gathered his knights.

Around 1375 the Scots poet John Barbour said that "the round table" was south of Stirling Castle, and in 1478 William of Worcester told how "King Arthur kept the Round Table at Stirling Castle".


Oh, but it gets even better.

It has also been suggested the site is partly Iron Age or medieval, or was used as a Roman fort.


Considering that most evidence points to Camelot having been a former Roman fort?

If Camelot turns out to be Stirling Castle, I will laugh my derriere off. No, seriously, I will.

But once again, I maintain careful scepticism. As massively cool as this would be, the evidence must support it.

Mr Harrison, who has studied the King's Knot for 20 years, said: "It is a mystery which the documents cannot solve, but geophysics has given us new insights.

"Of course, we cannot say that King Arthur was there, but the feature which surrounds the core of the Knot could explain the stories and beliefs that people held."
mediaevalist: (Default)
In lieu of yet another Feis na Samhna post...

Mysterious carved stone could be Templar relic

Reports indicate that a mysterious carved stone has been uncovered alongside a 12th-century church associated with the Knights Templar in Scotland.

According to a report in the Scotsman, what appears to be the carved top of a sarcophagus, was unearthed when builders were excavating and reinforcing a wall alongside the old ruined church in Temple, Midlothian.

...

The inscriptions, which include symbols similar to those found in Viking monuments, in medieval graves and in West Highland Celtic carvings, have baffled archaeologists.

mediaevalist: (King Arthur as a girl)
I've already mentioned this in passing, but apparently there are others even more invested in research into the historical King Arthur than I am.

Author David F. Carroll self-published Arturius - The Quest for Camelot and went so far as to bet £1,000 that the "Legend of King Arthur" was inspired by Arturius, the son of Aidan MacGabran, the 6th century AD King of the Scots of Dál Riata. It's been 11 years since The Scotsman reported this, and so far he's had no takers.

Oh, and the book is free. And we all like free stuff, right? So go download it and help history literacy!
mediaevalist: (King Arthur as a girl)
I was sucked back into a fandom that I was involved in (somewhat) about a year and a half ago though -- you guessed it -- an RPG (What a surprise). In consideration of a particular character in said fandom and how the person who plays said character in our RP might be amused to read this, in my infinite mediaeval geekery I hunted down one of the articles from an independent Scottish news/history/culture website I used to frequent daily. 

First Foot - Scotch Mythed: King Arthur

Maybe we do know the 'secret history of Arthur', now that I think about it.
mediaevalist: (WTS)
Something I picked up from The Herald by way of SCA Today:

Apparently, the Picts were not so barbaric after all.
Still seen by many as merely pint-sized, painted warriors, our forbears were often sophisticated people who were instrumental in the foundation of Scotland as a country - and in the creation of the national flag.

They were also talented craftspeople who used stones such as the Hilton of Cadboll to demonstrate their values and creeds.

Yesterday the National Museums of Scotland, where the ancient stone is displayed, launched a new bid to shed light on what has become known as the Dark Ages to try to give these ancient peoples, such as the Picts, the Gaels and Norse their rightful place in Scottish history.

The "Dark Ages" are seen as primitive enough, and Celts have always been the most barbarous of barbarians. Yet another urban legend rightly flushed.
mediaevalist: (WTS)
One of the problems that general fans of the Middle Ages sometimes fall prey to is this: the inability to distinguish between the historical Middle Ages and the 'Current Middle Ages' as defined by the Society for Creative Anachronism. While this generally isn't a problem within most of the SCA, there are a number of people who confuse 'the Middle Ages as we want them to have been' for the Middle Ages that actually were.

Politically-incorrect historical facts for your perusal )
mediaevalist: (Default)
The alumni association of my alma mater, the University of Glasgow, recently sent me an email regarding the Scottish Christmas Walk held yearly in Alexandria, Virginia. I noticed something as I was browsing the website, though: one of the sponsorships being sold was the 'Scottish Christmas Walk Lairds & Ladies Parade Patron'.

This always makes me wince. I know that it's a tribute of sorts to 'national poet' Robert Burns, but I've had too many bad experiences in 'accented' role-play that I've complained about before. And admittedly, I've never cared for Burns's poetry. Blasphemy, I know. But hell, while I'm at it, I may as well also admit that I fell asleep at the incoming students' ceilidh. That may have just been food coma, however.

The thing is, the international alumni events tend to be about doing things 'typically' Scottish, what people generally think of when the term comes up. But the sort of event that would bring back the most fond memories of my uni life would have to be a pub crawl followed by a Red Dwarf or Dr. Who marathon session. I may have been in the Celtic Studies department, but I've always been a geek through and through. I spent most of my time (when I wasn't sitting lecture or at the internet cafes) at the Queen Margaret Student Union eating Hawaiian pizza and reading manga (or occasionally my course reading) or at Io tv & movie nights.

Historical re-enactment never fails to be entertaining for me, but I never associate it with my time at GU.

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