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BRITARCH  March 2016

BRITARCH March 2016

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Subject:

Re: BRITARCH Digest - 11 Mar 2016 to 12 Mar 2016 (#2016-60)

From:

Peter Laurie <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Peter Laurie <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 14 Mar 2016 09:18:30 +0000

Content-Type:

text/plain

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Parts/Attachments

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On 13/03/2016 00:01, BRITARCH automatic digest system wrote:
> There are 3 messages totaling 165 lines in this issue.
>
> Topics of the day:
>
>    1. Exploring our Anglo-Saxon ancestry (3)
>
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
>
> Date:    Sat, 12 Mar 2016 11:38:28 +0000
> From:    Mike Weatherley <[log in to unmask]>
> Subject: Re: Exploring our Anglo-Saxon ancestry
>
> ________________________________________
> From: John Wood <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: 10 March 2016 17:42
>>> As a benchmark, we have the Norman invasion of England from which we can see that a ruling elite cannot force their language on an established
>>> minority and the result is that we now speak "English" and not French.
>> How do we explain that English is the common tongue in so many foreign countries today, many a result of colonialism, and where the original
>> colonials were of a significant minority when compared the native population?
> Well, that's an interesting question :-) I'd like to remind everybody of a line from the movie Lawrence of Arabia, where Lt. Lawrence & Col. Brighton meet inside their Arab hosts' tent for the first time. Col. Brighton has just refused the Arab request for guns (artillery) in their fight against the Ottoman Turkish Empire, which is currently occupying Arabia. Brighton then goes on to explain that Britain & the Arabs are united in their fight against the Turks and says that Britain is a great world power. He then asks: "And do you know why Britain is great?" To which, sherif  Ali replies: "Because they have guns!" To which prince Feisal adds: "And because they have ships, and as such, the British go where they please and strike where they please." (Oh, and btw, the Turks had guns as well, which is why the Arabs needed British help.)
>
> I suggest that, in the 5th/6th c. when encountering a largely peaceful, civilian British population, emerging from 400 years as part of the Roman Empire, the possession of swords, spears & seaxes on the part of the invading Anglo-Saxons took the place of artillery & warships used by 19th/20th c. Britain. But that is, just a guess :-)

And the warships probably weren't a drawback. Alfred had to build 
specially big longships to deal with the Danes. I suspect that a little 
island in the Fleet, west of Portland Harbour, was the site of one of 
his longboat stations, but the landowner says he can see no advantage in 
archaeology.


>
> Mike (BSc)
>
> ------------------------------
>
> Date:    Sat, 12 Mar 2016 11:50:13 +0000
> From:    Mike Weatherley <[log in to unmask]>
> Subject: Re: Exploring our Anglo-Saxon ancestry
>
> ________________________________________
> From: British archaeology discussion list <[log in to unmask]> on behalf of chris johnson <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: 10 March 2016 19:26
>> The Danish speak English because they choose to communicate with the rest
>> of the world, most of which also speaks English.  It is also a neutral way
>> of communicating with their Scandinavian neighbours.  The convenience
>> factor was also the main reason why India, say, chose English as a common
>> language instead of one of their many native languages.  It is a bit like
>> the use of Latin post Roman Empire - a lingua franca.
> Yes, it never ceases to amuse me that Latin was used as a 'lingua Franca': a 'French tongue' :-) But then that, of course, is because, at one time, the French Empire rivaled the British (English) Empire, as indeed both once rivaled the Roman one... And perhaps if the French Empire had ever scaled the heights of the British one (and they hadn't given bits of theirs to the British) then the 'lingua Franca' today might be in use across the world for radio transmission & the internet etc. in the way that English is.
>
>> We can perhaps conclude that the British areas were rather homogenous and
>> could continue with British/Welsh while some would learn English
>> (Anglo-Saxon) as a second language.  The English of course do not bother
>> with learning foreign languages.
> Yes, they've always proved remarkably bad at that, haven't they...
>
> Mike (BSc)
>
> ------------------------------
>
> Date:    Sat, 12 Mar 2016 13:09:22 +0000
> From:    Mike Weatherley <[log in to unmask]>
> Subject: Re: Exploring our Anglo-Saxon ancestry
>
> ________________________________________
> From: British archaeology discussion list <[log in to unmask]> on behalf of Dave Tooke <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: 11 March 2016 12:31
>
>> Indeed. Just read Bede. Dave Tooke
> For anyone who missed it, the first episode of the new series of 'Digging for Britain' was screened on BBC4 last Thursday. And the final section: 'Angles & Saxons: c. 400-600 AD', was introduced in a satisfyingly refreshing way by the presenter, Prof. Alice Roberts (though of course, like me, she's actually a scientist, not an archaeologist, but has spent a lot of time around them :-)
>
> "The next dig-diary tells the story of another group of incomers who transformed this island. Warrior invaders who stormed into Britain in the 5th c. AD. They were the Anglo-Saxons! They gave us our language, our laws and the beginning of our modern culture. But they left us little written record of theirs. Now, one of Britain's greatest treasure hoards could at last shine a light on this race of warriors." (This was dealing with the Staffordshire Hoard.)
>
> There we go: The Anglo-Saxons were: "invaders". In fact, I liked hearing Alice say it so much, I'm going to say it again: Invaders, invaders, invaders! So there & take that, Francis Pryor! :-)
>
> There then followed an inconclusive discussion about the gold & garnet hilts present in the hoard - from at least 100 swords - and Matt Williams asked the curator Chris Fern: "Were they ever used in war?" To which he got the inscrutable reply: "Across hundreds of fitting of these weapons, we are seeing degrees of wear." He then went on to claim that, since the tops of the pommels showed more wear than the grips, perhaps they were used more often for 'show' at a feast than in combat. But then, a sword pommel is a comfortable place to rest one's hand on the march, and also a way to ensure that the scabbard doesn't trip one up by entangling one's legs over rough ground. So that pattern of wear is unsurprising. And nobody would suggest that Saxons 'had their swords drawn all the time', as the scabbard is the best place to protect the blade (when not actually killing the natives) in our rather inclement climate. Of course, the fact that the military component of this hoard consists entirely of the precious metal elements of the hilts, and that the actual iron blades of the swords were removed (either for use with cheaper base-metal hilts or for scrap) before burial was glossed over. Because, only an examination of any surviving iron blades would truly tell us how much use they'd seen in battle (or even, practice).
>
> Anyway, the next segment was a visit to the 'Ford warrior' in Salisbury museum. Alice said: "He was buried with a seax, spearheads & the boss of a huge shield; typical grave-goods for an Anglo-Saxon warrior." A curator (only named as Adrian) then added: "This is the burial of the 'Ford warrior', found just north of Salisbury and he's buried with all the trappings of somebody who was clearly going into the afterlife to fight." Alice continued: "But other objects in his grave give a more subtle insight into how these invaders integrated with life in Britain." Adrian explained: "We've got this hanging-bowl. These are interesting objects because although the weapons are very typical Anglo-Saxon items, the bowl is a more indigenous, native-British object. So you have a combination of influences; you've got predominantly Anglo-Saxon influences, but then also the bowl is something that was used by local people as well."
>
> So what, exactly?
>
> Well if I may make an observation, if all the early Anglo-Saxons (including some of their women, don't forget - see three from West Heslerton, alone) were walking around armed with combinations of seaxes, swords, spears , armour, shields or helmets, then I doubt they ever needed to manufacture any bowls of their own, as they probably found it easier to simply - erm - liberate all they required from the (unarmed) locals. I mean, would you argue? Many of the exogenous items in the Sutton Hoo burial clearly have nothing to do with Anglo-Saxon culture, and can be interpreted as either 'tribute' from communities further west or (as an equally valid explanation) simply 'war-booty' from the same. Just because items of non-Anglo-Saxon provenance wind up in their graves, it doesn't follow that they were necessarily rubbing along famously with the locals. In fact, it could well be evidence for quite the reverse...
>
> Mike (BSc)
>
> ------------------------------
>
> End of BRITARCH Digest - 11 Mar 2016 to 12 Mar 2016 (#2016-60)
> **************************************************************
>
>
> -----
> No virus found in this message.
> Checked by AVG - www.avg.com
> Version: 2016.0.7442 / Virus Database: 4542/11802 - Release Date: 03/12/16
>
>
>
>

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