Celtic Prehistoric Skills, Stories, Ramblings, Parabolas, Food & Home
I am Irish, currently living in West Australia. I have a degree in Old & Middle English, Lang & Lit and, despite having worked in Kuwait, Italy, Malaysia, USA, Brunei, Australia and Hong Kong over the last 40 years, I have a strong interest in Ireland’s ancient pre-history and the heroes of its Celtic past as recorded in the 12th and late 14th century collection of manuscripts, collectively known as The Ulster Cycle.
I enjoy writing historical novels, firmly grounded in a well-researched background, providing a fresh and exciting look into times long gone. I have an empathy with the historical period and I draw upon my experiences of that area and the original documents.
I hope, by providing enough historical “realia” to hook you into a hitherto unknown – or barely glimpsed - historical period.
Ok, at the time of my novel, Raiding Cúailnge, Ireland – the far-flung western isle – was divided into five large kingdoms – Connacht (Connachta), Ulster (Ulaid), North Lenister, South Lenister and Munster. The Lenister side of the Great Plain of Ireland was known as Magh Breagh. The Hill of Tara (Teamhair) is located there and is the most famous assembly (Feis) place in Ireland and traditionally the seat of the Irish High King, the Ard Rí
Cruachain was the royal seat of power for Connachta (and Queen Medb), while Eamhain Macha was the pre-eminent site in the Ulaidh, ruled over by Conor mac Nessa, as detailed in my novel, Raiding Cúailnge in the chapter called The Taking og the Kingship.
Well, I have just finished another blast from the past – first published in 1967, and written by Robert Crichton, The Secret of Santa Vittoria was a world-wide best-seller that topped the popularity charts all over the world, according to the back cover of the copy I have.
The New York Times claimed “An irresistibly engaging book. It bubbles with gaiety and wit, bursts with laughter, throbs with the sheer joy of life. It will bring joy to the hearts of thousands.”
The Times merely stated “Will give enormous pleasure” while Daphne Du Maurier simply stated “Superb.”
I have to say it is all true. What a lovely book and with such great characters – Bombolini, the old soldier Vittorini, the haughty Malatesta and the love struck Fabio. I used to live in a small village outside the tangenziale surrounding Milan and this book brought back so many memories of the dark, rich Barolo and the weird idiosyncrasies of the local people there.
The sad thing is that this wonderful book has all but disappeared. I defy you to find a copy anywhere – out of print, gone, pulped, who knows but just no longer available in a casual search on Amazon or The Book Depository or Abe Books or Barnes and Noble or Sony or Apple’s iBook anyway. So, what is the life of a book? Shakespeare, Dante, Homer, Dickens – are these the immortals? How long do books that top the best seller lists last? Are these books that perched for eleventeen weeks at the top of these lists preserved somewhere, in libraries, in gigantic reserves and are they accessible? Someone mentioned recently that Amazon produces / publishes 6,000 new books each day. Where are they all kept and how many copies?
I have no idea but in less than two weeks my own book, Raiding Cúailnge, will be added to this outpouring of words and, no doubt, will be immediately lost in this colossal welter of words being produced every day
I wrote a recent post somewhere where I was almost gloating about having cracked this blog thingy and I wrote something just now, destined, I though, for the Book category and then I did something – probably not saved the bloody thing – and it all disappeared. I know if that happened in Word or something like that, I could probably get it back but here, I am a mere suckling in the wilderness.
Anyway, what I had written about was that this day two weeks from now, my first novel , Raiding Cúailnge, will be published. Published, is that the right term?. My novel will be available as an Ebook at all major retailers.
Does that demean, diminish or belittle the work? Does it open the floodgates to vapid twaddle if everyone has a “licence” to write? What do the gatekeepers of traditional publishers feel about the inroads being made into the preserves of the privileged few who landed a contract with a publishers? To tell you the truth, I don’t care. I couldn’t care less about it but Iam just thrilled to have my novel, my brainchild, out there, available online to God knows how many countless millions if they could only just find it!
I feel like an eejit. I’m just beginning to figure this damn thing out. It really is easy. I am appalled at how difficult I must have made it appear in my mind because I genuinely found the whole experience a bit off-putting and whenever I attempted to do anything, it was with a vague and undefined feeling of apprehension.
Does that make sense?
It was almost as if I half believed that this technology, this social media communication stuff, would all be a bit beyond me, which, of course, is nonsense, given my (kind of) earlyish start in computer literacy – that’s what it used to be called then, although I don’t know if that term is still in use nowadays.
Having said that, there is always the possibility that things (i.e. me) can go wrong again and in attempting to do some minor task, like drag the post “realisations” under the blog Curves, I will inadvertently bring disaster down on my head. See? There I go again, the vague feeling of … almost trespassing, as it were.
I remember, a couple of years ago, in Hong Kong, well, actually more like a dozen years or so now, some kids wrote in their journals that their parents used email while they used SMS or something that I had never heard of. I realised then that I was the same age as their parents and that I used only emails, having long abandoned the former conventions of landline phones and handwritten letters.
So, did I make an active decision then to stop learning new things? I wouldn’t have thought, so but what then explains my reluctance to embrace – is it a new technology or a new way of communicating?
By the third Century BCE a distinctive and clearly recognisable Iron Age Celtic society emerged. Known for its widespread use of jewellery and ornaments, its common artistic designs were developed first in central Europe by Celts and became known as the La Tène style from the area on the north side of Lake Neuchâtel in Switzerland, where thousands of objects were discovered in 1857.
The Torc is a twisted metal ring usually worn around the neck and could be of gold, bronze or iron. It was almost certainly a symbol of rank. Gold, pretty much like today, was out of reach of all but the nobility and champions. Far more common were bracelets and necklaces of bronze and polished stones or pottery beads.
Examples of Celtic art include torcs, or neck rings, with the two open ends ornamented with animal heads; the silver repoussé Gundestorp cauldron (circa 100 bc, National Museum, Copenhagen); a bronze lozenge-shaped shield with circular medallions and small enamel circles (1st century bc-1st century ad); and a bronze mirror with enameled decoration (1st century bc).
Brooches were made from silver and gold studded with amber and pieces of glass, used to hold a cloak in position.
Glass was made from salt, crushed limestone and sand and coloured by adding powdered minerals. Glass was also used as enamel, a thin transparent layer bonded to metal underneath.
Personal ornaments include pins, fibulae, beads, bracelets and neck ornaments. Simple collars of twisted gold strips are known but there is also the sumptuous gold collar found on the seashore at Broighter, Co. Derry.
Holy-Moly, I’ve been uploading bits of Celtic Trivia into what I though was an on-going bloggy thing on Celtic Trivia but it turns out,I think that it was one post, which I inadvertently opened and edited or added stuff to it and called it, each time, a new name, i.e. Celtic Trivia 2 and then later on Celtic Trivia 3, expecting them to be listed one under the other. Instead I appear to have a single post.
But what, I’d like would be for each post, under the category of Celtic Trivia, to follow one after the other. So, here goes
This piece of Celtic trivia features Clothes. Men wore a thigh length tunic (léine) over baggy trousers; brightly coloured. The léine was fastened at the waist with a sash. Wool was often dyed before being woven. The principle dyes were made from flowers, bark, berries, leaves or lichen boiled with salt or stale urine. The wool was first soaked, then boiled. Imported dyes, especially the scarlet from Parthia / Scythia, much favoured for its intensity, or the royal purple, the dye of the Phoenicians (made from the glands of the murex snails), were much sought after but were beyond the reach of most.
Women’s clothes were long and loose, made of linen or wool.- a sleeveless tunic over a long dress with a lightweight shift underneath. A shawl or cloak (brat) fastened at the shoulders with a brooch or pin completed the outfit.
Cloaks could have a small hood (cochall) with bands of decorative weaving and tasseled fringes round the lower edge but most were simple and unadorned.
Looking back at my first post ever on March 22 I have only now just begun to understand what I didn’t know then.In this sally at communication in cyber space, I have been thinking of it like a concrete word document upon which I pound away for a while and then save / post it. And then, the next time, I open the same document again and add to it, rather than starting a new one / post.