Tag Archives: living

Passage tomb solstice allignment

Its the winter solstice coming up on the morning of the 21st. Solstice – sun stands still. Good way of putting it as it pauses before swinging back along the horizon towards its other point in summer. People are looking to sit in passage tombs (the properly aligned ones to be fair to them) and have the sun enter at sunrise. Cant do it. Don’t have the yearning for that mystic experience. If I want to be in a bunch of people huddled together waiting for the light to come in I can take a lift. I am interested in the people who built them though. I intend to get a compass point for sunrise on the horizon and use sticks and string to trace its shadow track. Plotting orthostats, galleries, etc. will be easy to visualise after that. Walking through it may give me some insights into the building of these truly interesting megalithic monuments. Did they possibly get construction quotes or permission perhaps? Were they built with a predetermined time in mind? How many people and how long? What did it look like as it progressed? Did they include parking? How would it be built? Fun aside it is interesting and may lead somewhere.

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Magnumlady gave me an idea

Magnumladys’ blog pointed out there was a flea market yesterday so I ventured in to see if there was anything (books) I could buy (cheap books). Thank you Magnumlady. It was full of something for almost everyone. None of it has ever steered me away from looking for books apart for that one time I became a child for five minutes and badly wanted a working steam train. It ran on steam. Anyway, there was a light frosting of books among the stalls so looking took a while, but buying a secondhand book is like diamond mining. You may have to dig through a lot before you find a gem.

And there it was. A pile of National Geographic magazines. From 1940. Beautiful – a whole world apart from where we are now. They contain adds quoting doctors for this and that. Car ads. Articles from a time when the USA had not yet joined WWII. Articles on the silk road, South America – all from that time. A real delight. There was also a small section on artefacts being wrapped up in the Louvre to be sent to the basement. The photographs were not of the treasures, but of the rude hands forcing them into storage. I will scan them and post once I get the scanner working. Anyone looking forward to Monument Men coming out?

I haven’t had a chance to go through them properly yet as I had to be up at 4am to travel and am just back. If anyone is interested in any of the articles that might be in them – please let me know and I will have a look and perhaps post a list of what’s in there.

Good night all.

 

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Looking for light in darkness, but couldn’t find the darkness

My wife and I went out to Streedagh to see if we could watch or even catch a glimpse of the predicted Aurora Borealis. It is an ephemeral vision at this low latitude, but if there is a chance who would miss it? We missed it. We went out to Streedagh because it is a north facing beach which would give a clear view if indeed it showed up. There was a light mist but the moon was making a good show through and the hope was it would clear over the sea. It didn’t and the moonlight hitting the low (very thin – we could spot stars) cloud basically set up a light screen.

So far a blog about what hasn’t happened. Onwards.

The beach was being pounded by surf – clear in the moonlight. Further along the strand the mist coming off the surf seemed to dissolve the vista beautifully. The camera could not get enough light to capture the beauty of the scene, but as our eyes adjusted everything was crystal clear. The camera couldn’t capture a shot, but I could see our shadows. Amazing. So we went for a moonlit walk on the beach. Wonderful. The thing is, the human eye takes a while to adjust fully to the darkness, so nothing looked familiar when we were walking back (the car was parked behind the dunes). Found it eventually.

Now the best bit for a random reader passing through – this was a beach where a Spaniard was washed up. From the Armada. Three ships actually beached there, but he wrote letters to his brother at a later point and these were kept safe and translated. I do like to work a book or reading bit in. Its potentially the script for a slew of movies – war, capture, escape, slavery, women chasing him, defending castles, pirates, chases and so on. He was amazingly lucky, a liar, or a bit of both – you decide. His translations can be read here – http://www.ucc.ie/celt/published/T108200/index.html . Its an amazing site with a vast number of ancient manuscripts translated. If you do read Captain Cuellar’s translations – no pressure, please let me know what you think of them.

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Sunrise at Listoghil

Listoghil is tomb 51 at the Carrowmore Megalithic complex. Mention in past histories list the number of monuments at 200. Now less than 50, these monuments are gathering agreement among archaeologists as the oldest stone monuments constructed on the island. I recently met a family from Texas out there as well as 4 Dutch people, wandering around on a Saturday. The place was closed so no information was available. I found this amazing and was delighted to talk about the monuments (as much as I knew). Without the little I knew they would have wandered about and not have felt an impact.

I have heard that the vast majority of the tombs are oriented, not on a sunrise, but on Listoghil. Listoghil itself has been dated as a thousand years younger than some of the other tombs. Takes a lot to figure out the facts, let alone the theories.

Lstoghil from the top edge of the reconstructed cairn

Lstoghil from the top edge of the reconstructed cairn

The original Listoghil tomb inside the new cairn

The original Listoghil tomb inside the new cairn

This should show the avenue into the reconstruced cairn.

This should show the avenue into the reconstructed cairn.

The last picture is typical. You wait for a good shot with a clear lineup and out of nowhere someone jumps in. Happens quite often. Anyway, Listoghil was a cairned monument that had suffered substantial robout (theft of stones). Someone saw fit to raise a modern cairn like structure around the monument in the noughtes. I have heard “chamber of horrors, caged animal and Disneyland archaeology”. It is up to the person who visits to judge. The avenue is along the astro alignment so the sunrise still shines into the tomb or monument. The alignment is on a cross quarter day. These are the four festival points, Beltaine, Imbolc, Samhain and Lughnasadh – February, May, August and November. Samhain was the alignment we went to – sunrise was at 7.45am. Samhain is the time of the dead – the original Halloween type of thing. It was very early and very cold. I heard one lady mention it was so early she had left Micks breakfast on page 43 of the cookbook so she could be at the monument and didn’t miss anything.

Seconds to go.

Seconds to go.

Waiting

Waiting

Steady stream gathering

Steady stream gathering

Go in or stay out?

Go in or stay out?

Cold, but good spirits

Cold, but good spirits

Guessed there was over 100 people there, just curious and eager to hear from an archaeologist who was going to talk people through it. Nothing like the drumming, candles and chanting at a previous astro event.

Sunrise

Sunrise

And sunrise…… you have to admire the building of those people all those years ago – perhaps 6/7 thousand years ago, depending who you believe or need to agree with. For me it was the people there – after all that time people still gathered for the sunrise. The group I went with were absolutely class and helped make the morning. Well would you feel a wee bit daft standing there on your own in a field with stone constructions? For me, the crowd and the sunrise was more than the science and the sunrise. Cloud rapidly covered the horizon, but it didn’t spoil it a bit. Siobhans flask of hot toddies and the craic with Rory, Alan, Siobhan and Sinead made it more memorable again.

Just a note, all pictures were taken before sunrise by my inexperienced hand. The light gather in each makes some seem brighter or darker. Siobhan kindly lent me her camera as I had left mine charging at home (so I wouldn’t run out of power). The camera was better than I was.

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Should I do this as a business?

Asking the question probably answers it to a certain extent. Its either do it or don’t. Making shelves for people in return for money is in theory easy. The issues are demand and supply. Firstly there needs to be the connection between people tripping across piles of books and getting shelves to solve this problem. Secondly there is the idea of the shelf. Primarily it should be furniture. My reasoning for this is it is the best return on investment. Anything stuck to the wall can not be rearranged and if removed leaves holes. Holes in any wall are not viewed as a positive feature and doubly so if the property is rented or you are thinking of moving on in the future. Shelves as furniture are an asset. They look well and if made well, they last well. They can be rearranged, moved, sold or given to someone who will appreciate good quality. On the supply side there are numerous sets of shelves and bookcases out there. The issues there are value for money too. You shouldn’t need a mortgage, nor should you be forced to buy low cost kits that after the slightest damage turn out to be temporary.

Reading Pratchett I find I agree with the character Vimes when he looks at the price and quality of boots. The rich pay 150 for a pair of boots that are waterproof and last for 4 – 5 years. The poor buy boots that cost 40 and leak almost straight away and buy a pair each year. So the poor pay more and still have wet feet. Good quality shelves or bookcases are in the same category. They look well and keep the books well. They last well and tag along with you through life. They are worth something if you want to sell them. I like value for money – either getting it or giving it, but I am living in a society where a company pays more for advertising than manufacture. Needs more thought.

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Its been nearly a year.

image 168 image 163 image 141 Photo0350 Photo0376 Photo0612 image 88 image 116I have spent it well but have not blogged in all that time.

Books still play a large part in my life, and still need shelves, bless them. Archaeology is amazing too. The course I am on is a real eye opener. So books on archaeology do move more to the front. The course is with a good and well run institution, but they have a media officer and insist on vetting any material made public using their name. I am in no position to disagree with their request so choose to avoid the issue altogether as I dislike censorship (specially when it comes to my opinions). Aside from the course (wonderful, truly) I have visited and become interested in Archaeology in general. Have I bought a hat and a whip? I did hear jokes last year on hat wearing class and advanced swinging over pits…. but no, no Indiana Jones stuff. The real stuff is better in the long run.

In my own personal readings I have become amazed with the amount of opinions and the number of people who seem to make a living from developing popular/saleable ideas. I like the idea that it is a science and thus should be based on evidence. It should include all evidence on any subject broached and not just the convenient stuff that fits the theory. The grey area is something of a lack of standards in work. There is little regulation or supervision. Its up to people to do their best and then tough it out with their findings against any who for whatever reason, disagree with them.

Grouching over. So what is it all worth. Quoting the late Mike Aston, from the program Time Team, “people like to find things”. It can’t be helped or avoided, nor should it. It is the easier of two halves of Archaeology. Figuring out what happened in the past through tests and analyses (and then bashing theories together) is quite a bit more difficult sometimes. Take the Staffordshire Hoard, figuratively speaking. Its a mass of beautifully made golden, jewel encrusted sword hilts, pommels, armour cheek pieces, etc., recently found in, well, Staffordshire in 2009. A large sum was paid by Museums, and now people want to look at all of it. It has in part been bee put on display. when I say part, it covers more than one museum at a time, given all of the contents. That’s not the good bit though. Imagine being part of a group of people who get to change/correct/enhance history by finding out its story. Jones isn’t Jones as a likeable character because he steals cool stuff, its because he knows about it. The soil the hoard was in will be examined. The hoard will be dated. The area will be looked at to see what the landscape was like at that time and after (after because the hoard may have been in use for some time before it was disposed of) . The items will be examined to see if it all came from the same place and time. Makers or owner marks will be looked for. Bright people will be gathered to make their own cluedo board with scraps of evidence to piece together. Scientists, anthropologists and archaeologists (archaeology is still mainly taught as an Art) will be gathered to think of new ways of wrestling some more clues from the finds. Some of this has already been done.

Being part of a group of people who can add to history and say something like –

“Its part of the legendary King Johns crown jewels”, or “Its a hoard of Viking plunder from as far as Samarkand and Kiev”, or “Robin Hood really did exist but he kept some for himself”, or ……… Imagine getting paid every day to do that.

What have I found? Part of a hengiform post and ditch structure in a high status trivalate circular enclosure. A chance to dig this week on a possible Neolithic house (approx. 4000 BC to 2600 BC). Shiny stuff is ok, but being part of figuring out the past (and getting paid for it) is great.

I will be looking more at books and their home again in the near future.

 

Thank you for reading.

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Great day was had by all. The comference was fully attended and with all manner of interdisciplinary talks on how the dark may have affected people in the past – in all manner of ways. Dr. Robert Hensey, Prof. Richard Bradley, Dr. John Carey, Ken Williams (photographer), Tim O’Connell (Caver), Dr. Paul Pettitt, Brian Keenan (writer and captive in the dark for some years in the middle east), Prof. Muiris O’Sullivan, Dr. Sian James, Dr. Marion Dowd, Prof. Jack Santino, Fr. Colman O Calbaigh, Prof. (Emeritus) Ruth D. Whitehouse, Prof. Colin Richards and Prof. Gabriel Cooney all spoke over the day to a packed auditorium. I managed to get notes down during some – where there was enough light. Some had the lights off with only the projector on – Prof. Cooney gave his talk (last but by no means least) in complete darkness. So many elite in the one room was like going to a Police concert and finding them supported by Madonna, Ac/Dc, One Direction, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Bruce Springsteen and Beyonce. There was so much presented – some new ideas, some new finds, that it was hard to devour in one sitting, yet it was compelling. Trying to concentrate enough to pierce some of the accents made a person wish they were powerful enough to have anyone who coughed silently removed.

The two internal photos were taken in the morning before kickoff – and before we were asked to switch off our phones. Outside the auditorium Wordwell had set up a bookstall – all stock was related to the topic. I was delighted to get the last copy of The Irish Revolution, 1912 to 1923 SLIGO, by Michael Farry as well as a few other books. Handy, as on my entertainment side of reading I had just finished Joe Abercrombies Red Country. There was tea, coffee and biscuits with food stalls outside. On the timber and bookshelf side of things I came across a lady I hadn’t seen in a while. She keeps bees and sells their produce in so many ways. I understand she mixes and pours the waxes herself as well as makes the sweets and candles. Havn’t used the candles but the sweets and polish are top class. If you find her – go for the one labeled Polish if you need it for wood – she has a different mix for leather. Having looked at my photo, the text is fuzzy so here it is -(from the top) Direct from the Producer. Guaranteed Pure. Beeswax Polish. 60ml. Shanvaus Apiary, Manorhamilton, Co. Leitrim. Ingredients: Turpentine, Beeswax, Carnauba Wax.

So many things taken from that day – it will take a while for it all to settle in. What did I love most – John Carey for his use of manuscripts, Tim O’Connell for his obvious love of caves, Marion Dowd for presenting a deep command of her subject so well, Ruth Whitehouse for her subject and because I like Italy, Colin Richards, because Easter Island is so exotic to me and Gabriel Cooney for bringing us all into the dark. Those were the people. The papers presented will have to be studied and studied before I say anything there. But that is just at the moment – its all up in the air and something else may settle into focus over later dates (as I get to know the people and the subject) – way too early to nail that list to the door.

It was a very, very good day.

 

 

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