Category Archive 'Britain'
15 Jul 2017

Reading University Excavating Long Barrow

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Telegraph:

A “House of the Dead” dating back more than 5,000 years could contain the remains of the ancestors of people who built Stonehenge, archaeologists believe.

A Neolithic long barrow burial mound at Cat’s Brain, in Pewsey Vale, Wiltshire, is being excavated by the University of Reading in the first full investigation of such a monument in the county for half a century.

The long barrow, lies in the middle of a farmer’s field halfway between the two major stone circles of Avebury and Stonehenge, and its existence has been known for decades after a geological survey found the evidence of deep trenches.

The inner building, however, was thought to have been ploughed flat, and it was not until a drone was sent up recently that anyone knew part of it still survives.

The barrrow would have originally consisted of of two ditches flanking a central burial chamber which was probably covered with a mound made of the earth dug from the ditches.

Experts said it was surprising to find lasting evidence of the building and believe it may contain human remains buried there in around 3,600 BC.

It is hoped the Reading University Archaeology Field School investigation will provide crucial evidence from the early Neolithic period, which saw Britain’s first agricultural communities and monument builders.

RTWT

24 Jun 2017

The School of British Accents

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First preview episode of a new YouTube video series in which seven native speakers teach immigrants to Britain how to speak Cockney, Scottish, Scouse, Welsh, Wes Country, Yorkshire, and Geordie.

HT: Karen L. Myers.

09 Jun 2017

Saudis Quickly Apologized For Soccer Team’s Behavior

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The Australia team link arms on the halfway line as the minute’s silence begins. The Saudi team stood at their respective positions on the field, not participating in honoring the victims.

The Telegraph explains what happened.

The Saudi Arabian football team were booed by Australian supporters after they failed to properly line up for a minute’s silence in honour of the victims of the London Bridge terror attacks.

Saudi Arabia were preparing to play Australia in a World Cup qualifier at the Adelaide Oval when the stadium announcer called for a minute’s silence to begin.

The Australia team linked arms in a line on the centre circle while the Saudi Arabia team stood in random formation as the silence began.

According to Adam Peacock, who works as a presenter for Fox Sports in Australia, the Asian Football Confederation approved the minute’s silence against the wishes of Saudi Arabia.

The Football Federation of Australia were then unable to persuade Saudi Arabian officials to agree to participate in the tribute.

A number of Saudi Arabian players stood still with their arms behind their back while others appeared to continue their warm up.

RTWT

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The Wall Street Journal reports that an official apology was quickly forthcoming.

Saudi Arabia’s Football Federation apologized on behalf of the country’s national soccer team for failing to observe a minute’s silence for victims of a recent London terrorist attack ahead of a World Cup qualifying match against Australia.

The incident prompted a furious response in Australia, with the crowd jeering the Saudi team, which instead of lining up moved into positions for the coming match on Thursday as Australia’s players linked arms to pay silent respects to victims. While many of the Saudi players stood still, others including the team captain, Osama Hawsawi, continued warm-ups and stretches.

Eight people died in Saturday’s attack in London, among them two Australians.

The Saudi Federation said Friday it condemned “all acts of terrorism,” adding that it “deeply regrets and unreservedly apologies for any offense caused by the failure of some members of the representative team of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to formally observe the one minute’s silence in memory of the victims of the London terrorist attack.”

“The players did not intend any disrespect to the memories of the victims or to cause upset to their families, friends or any individual affected by the atrocity.”

RTWT

03 Jun 2017

Britain’s National Army Museum Captured by the Enemy

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Andrew Roberts finds that the forces of Political Correctness have completed their long march right through the British National Army Museum.

Today’s huge new £24 million refurbished National Army Museum looks imposing inside, but instead of chronologically taking you through the history of the Army it is now broken down thematically into spaces such as ‘Society’, which ‘explores the Army as a cultural and military force that impacts on our customs, technologies and values’, and ‘Army’, which ‘explores the Army’s major role in the political development of the country’. Instead of seeing artefacts in a historical context, as part of a chronological narrative, the visitor is forced to explore themes, and as ever this has provided an opening for guilt, apology and political correctness.

In the old museum they just showed vast collections of uniforms, weaponry, regimental silver, medals and vast paintings of the battle of Omdurman; in today’s you are invited to press buttons to vote on whether ‘The money spent on the Army should be spent elsewhere’, and asked to decide ‘What issue should the Army focus on in the coming decade?’, giving you the choice of ‘Fighting international terrorism’, ‘Training other countries’ armed forces only’, ‘Cyber warfare’ or ‘Peacekeeping’. There is no choice available to vote for the job it has now done for four centuries, that is, ‘Defending Britain by fighting other countries’ armies’. …

[M]edals are thought of as old-fashioned and boring by the new right-on Museum, we are not told in very many cases what they are or even who they were awarded to. The wonderful pictures are still there, but in the Art Room there is now a big sign saying ‘Political Statement’ in red letters, which tells us that ‘Art became a means to legitimise territorial expansion’, and ‘Today, few artists are commissioned to celebrate military victories and triumphalism is seen as distasteful.’ For the iconic picture of the relief of Ladysmith we aren’t told the title or the name of the artist or what is happening in it, but just: ‘This was known as the Bovril War picture.’

‘The National Army Museum,’ it boasts, ‘challenges you to think again about what an army museum is.’

RTWT

29 May 2017

Brit Sentenced to 9 1/2 Years for Causing Accidental Fire with Cigarette Butt

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46-year-old John Cox of Kidderminster, depressed over the break-up of his marriage, got drunk in the course of a Monarch Airlines Flight travelling from Birmingham to Sharm El-Sheikh. Cox broke the rules by smoking a cigarette in the plane’s lavatory, then accidentally caused a fire by discarding his cigarette in the lavatory trashcan. He compounded his offense by being rude and belligerent when confronted by the aircrew.

Cox pled guilty in January to an offence of arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered and was later sentenced to four years and six months in jail.

Sounds pretty blood draconian, right? Well, it turned out that Solicitor General Robert Buckland Q.C. then appealed the sentence for being too light (!), and the British Appeals Court agreed. Lady Justice Sharp said: “The potential for causing disaster here was plain and obvious. The sentence passed was unduly lenient, this offence called for a deterrent sentence and condign punishment.” And the Appeals court’s three judge panel more than doubled Cox’s sentence to nine and a half years (!!).

In Austria, another modern judge recently reduced the sentence of a Muslim immigrant who raped a ten-year-old boy, explaining that his conduct was provoked by a “sexual emergency” from six years to four concluding the original sentence had been excessive.

Isn’t it wonderful to be living in this modern age of European Enlightenment?

Telegraph 5/26

13 May 2017

British Parliament Debates for 28 Minutes on the Hedgehog

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First such debate since 1566.

Oliver Colvile (Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport) (Con):

An article in The Guardian in July 2013 pointed out that hedgehogs are prickly in character, have a voracious appetite and a passion for gardens, and have a noisy sex life. I leave it to you, Madam Deputy Speaker, to decide which of those traits I share. In a BBC wildlife poll, hedgehogs were chosen as the best natural emblem for the British nation, beating the charismatic badger and the sturdy oak. The victory for the ultimate underdog came about with 42% and more than 9,000 votes cast for the hedgehog. … In short, the British people have taken hedgehogs to their hearts.

Full text of this important debate.

Hat tip to Angèle Dowmunt-Iwaszkiewicz.

15 Feb 2017

The Middleham Jewel

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Vintage News had a feature article on a major historic find.

The Middleham Jewel is a late 15th-cenutry diamond-shaped gold pendant made by the finest medieval goldsmiths in London. It was found in 1985 near the Middleham Castle in North Yorkshire which was the childhood home of Richard III.

It is a remarkable piece of jewelry because of the engraving of the two scenes of the Trinity and Nativity.

There is a blue sapphire stone set on the front face which is connected with the Virgin Mary and it was believed that the jewel was made to assist childbirth. Another belief is that the jewel was providing protection against illness curing headaches and poor eyesight. Also, the sapphire may represent heaven or have acted as aid to prayer.

The circle of the sun surrounding the sapphire is in the shape of the letter “o” and it’s connected with the Greek word ”omega” which symbolizes the end, the completion. There are holes on the side of the jewel which indicate that there was a frame around it, possibly once decorated with pearls.

On the front side, there is a scene of the Trinity, including the Crucifixion of Jesus and there is a Latin inscription which was a common recitation by the priest in mass. There is one particular word ‘ananizapta’ for which it was believed that it is a magic word, intended to protect people from drunkenness or epilepsy.

On the back side of the jewel, there is an engraving of the Nativity, with fifteen saints around the Lamb of God. Only a few of the saints can be identified as St George, Catherine of Alexandria, St Peter, St Barbara, St Anne, Dorothea of Caesarea and St Margaret of Antioch.

There is evidence from the late 15-th century that this kind of jewel was worn by noble ladies. It may have been owned by Richard III’s wife, Anne Neville, his mother or his mother-in-law because they all spent time at Middleham.

When it was first found, the jewel was declared lost and was sold at Sotheby’s in 1986. In 1992, with support from many fundraisers, it was acquired by the Yorkshire Museum. There is a replica of the Middleham Jewel at Middleham and the original can be seen in the Yorkshire Museum.

13 Jan 2017

Victorian Professions

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26 Nov 2016

Roman Shoe Hoard Found in Northumberland

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romanshoes

Ancient Origins:

A team of archeologists has discovered more than 400 ancient Roman shoes in the Vindolanda fort in Northumberland, England, including some that resemble modern-day shoe styles. The site, located just south of Hadrian’s Wall, was an ancient settlement for Roman soldiers and their families.

During the excavation work, which lasted the whole summer, the researchers were uncovering one shoe after another. It was a huge challenge, but every single piece is priceless. According to the researchers, every single shoe is like a time machine, and a window into the everyday life of the person who once wore it.

Some of the shoes even resemble today’s fashions. For example, Chronicle Live reports that one shoe that was unearthed is strikingly similar to the Adidas Predator football boot. Although Romans didn’t play football, the shoes offered them similar comfort and flexibility to the famous Predator model.

The shoes belonged to the different generations, ranging from tiny baby boots to small children’s shoes, adult female and men boots and bath clogs. The owners of the shoes lived inside the fort at Vindolanda. It was built c. 1,800 years ago by the Roman army. It was small but one of the most heavily defended forts in Britain.

Complete story.

17 Nov 2016

Childhood Gun Ownership in the UK Before WWII

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577enfield

Major collector Peter McManus, in his One Man’s Gun Quest — 50 Years of Gun Collecting, describes the economics of his first gun.

When I was about 13 I was given my first firearm: an 1860 .577 Enfield military muzzleloading rifle, though I never use that as a rifle with a solid bullet.

So this was a new dimension!

I made my own gunpowder, using potassium chloride, not potassium nitrate (don’t do it!). A quarter pound cocoa tin served as a powder flask.

The bowl of a clay pipe was an excellent powder and shot measure and another quarter pound cocoa tin was used as a shot flask.

Shot, however, was a problem! Lead shot was used when pocket money would run to it but many other alternatives were tried: I experimented with D. I. Y. lead shot but it was pear-shaped and irregular in size: Not satisfactory at all. How to make it? You don’t want to know as it could be dangerous!

Tin tacks were good, but expensive! Gravel was tried, but without success: don’t bother with it! Used ball bearings: okay, but difficult to obtain. For wadding I used a wodge of rolled up newspaper: a thick one over the powder charge and a thin one over the shot charge to hold it in position.

Percussion caps? Couldn’t afford them! The alternative was a pair of paper caps, as used in toy guns, wedged into the hammer. This was surprisingly effective, most of the time, though you could occasionally get a hang fire.
Hang fires were not good! You would pull the trigger, hear the caps fire, but fail to ignite the charge. As you took the gun from your shoulder it would belatedly go off! Potentially dangerous, of course, but no harm was ever done.

My parents ran a guesthouse: Stella Maris, 34/35 West Parade opposite Rhyl Pavilion. On one occasion I decided to fire a clay marble at the back gate of Stella Maris. It would, I reasoned, be bound to shatter on impact as the marble was far too small for the board. Only a light charge of powder was used but, to my horror, the marble went straight through the gate. Virtually no one was walking by at the time but was the kind of experiment I never repeated.

My understanding is that we cannot even buy caps in America anymore.

05 Sep 2016

Knaresborough’s Petrifying Well

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KnaresboroughWell
Petrified objects hang outside the entrance to Knaresborough’s well.

The Vintage News reports that they don’t allow you to drink the water today.

One of the most notable examples of petrifying wells is in Knaresborough, England. The Knaresborough petrifying well was first opened to the public in 1630 and still amazes people by its ‘abilities’ to this day.

For many centuries, locals believed that this Petrifying Well was cursed by the devil – a myth fueled by the fact that the side of the well looks like a giant’s skull. They constantly lived with the fear that if they touched the well’s water, they would be turned to stone too. …

History shows that the well wasn’t always known for its petrifying qualities. The earliest written reference to the well was by John Leyland, antiquary to Henry VIII, who visited the well in 1538. He wrote that the well was very well-known and visitors drank and showered under its falling waters, as they were believed to have miraculous healing powers. Around this time, the legendary prophetess Ursula Southeil, who is better known as Mother Shipton, began to gain popularity.

According to popular legend, Mother Shipton was a Yorkshire witch, born in the cave, who prophesied about future events in the form of poems. As Mother Shipton’s notoriety grew, so did the fame of the petrifying well.

In the early 1600’s medical physicians examined the waters, and pronounced that they could cure any malady that the body might have. Then, in 1630, King Charles I sold the land that the well sits on to Sir Charles Slingsby. Sir Slingsby must have been able to recognize a business opportunity when he saw one because he immediately put the well on exhibition and charged money for guided tours around his new property. The well and its surrounding area have been in continuous operation as an attraction since then.

It is often described as the UK’s first official tourist attraction. The cave and dropping well, together with other attractions, remain open to visitors.

14 Jul 2016

New British PM’s Fashion Plate Husband

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PhilipMay1

News of Theresa May’s accession to Prime Minister was eclipsed yesterday in some quarters by gushings over her husband Philip’s well-tailored, single-button blue suit.

Metro.Uk and Twitter went wild:

Theresa May became Britain’s new prime minister, but her husband’s big fashion moment stole the show.

Stepping into the limelight as First Man, Philip May showcased a sexy navy suit with a flourish of pinstripe.
Britain’s new Prime Minister Theresa May speaks outside 10 Downing Street in central London on July 13, 2016 on the day she takes office following the formal resignation of David Cameron. Theresa May took office as Britain’s second female prime minister on July 13 charged with guiding the UK out of the European Union after a deeply devisive referendum campaign ended with Britain voting to leave and David Cameron resigning. / AFP PHOTO / OLI SCARFFOLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images
Theresa May’s speech in full as she becomes Prime Minister

A single fastened button at the waist helped show off his fantastic figure and a pale blue tie brought out the colour of his eyes.

Round glasses perched on his nose accentuated his amazing bone structure – no doubt one of the assets he used to help him to bag his wife.

Twitter160

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Mr. May’s haberdashery has evidently been attracting complimentary attention in the media for some time. Marie Claire actually devoted a feature to his suits and ties, noting approvingly that he frequently coordinates his outfits with hers.

PhilipMay2

Jasmin Nahar, at Buzz Feed UK, is envious of the PM:

A man who can dress himself and has a job? Where do I sign up?

05 Jul 2016

Noel Annan on Kipling

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Kipling
Rudyard Kipling, 1865-1936.

Noel Annan, Our Age: English Intellectuals Between the World Wars: A Group Portrait:

[Britain’s Edwardian] serenity was misplaced. Astute observers at home warned that Britain was losing its industrial supremacy and was indifferent to its ill educated population. Acute observers abroad declared that the solidarity of British life was an illusion. The American historian Brooks Adams (brother of Henry) forecast the departure of Britain from the historical stage. The steel production of the United States and Germany was overtaking that of Britain; and the Boer war had revealed Britain’s inefficiency as a world power. Conrad heard the tumult beneath the surface of that thin crust men called civilization – the anarchist world of the secret agent or of Henry James’s Hyacinth Robinson. But there was one writer in particular who was aware how thin the crust was and who redefined the gentlemanly ethos, and it was often through his eyes that Our Age was told to admire it. That was Kipling.

Kipling wanted his generation to recall how much the gentleman owed to society. He valued the independence of the individual – as an artist how could he not? But the individual left on his own, isolated and lonely, disintegrated. Particularly in India where men and their wives died young, where to take one’s work seriously could result in madness because government, unlike in England, never achieved results. What prevented such a society from going over the precipice? Kipling answered: religion, law, custom convention, morality – the forces of social control – which imposed upon individuals certain rules which they broke at their peril. Conventions enabled men to retain their self-respect and even to live together under appalling circumstances. Those who break the conventions must be punished. Numbers of Kipling stories contain scenes in which the individualistic, the eccentric, the man who offends against the trivial rules of the club, are tarred and feathered with gleeful brutality. If the offender is not brought to heel, society will suffer. It is not worth spending much effort, Kipling thought, debating whether the customs, morality and religion of the place you live in are right or wrong. His contemporary, the anthropologist James Frazer, was informing the learned public that religion and magic were a kind of primitive science which would vanish as scientific knowledge spread; but for Kipling, as for Max Weber, religion was a social fact.

These forces of social control, as Kipling admitted, were harsh. The harshness could be alleviated by belonging to in-groups. These in-groups protect the individual, give him privacy, identity and self-confidence. They are the family, the school and the craft or profession you follow. These in-groups, too, teach us our place. We all need a course of indoctrination to find our place and, if you have come up in the world, to be taught it. But when the individual has proven himself in his in-group, and so long as he is not in the strict sense of the word of an eccentric, then the more daring his behaviour and the more abundant his action, the greater is the addition of joy in the world. Stalky was the prototype of this socialized individualism. He acted beyond the formal law of school or army regulations and possessed the gift of seeing himself from the outside in relation to society. In Kipling’s world action revitalized man. That was the obverse of suffering it caused. And suffering was inevitable. Political action is often not a choice between good and evil but between lesser and greater evil.

Social realities interested Kipling. The liberal pictures man as choosing goals to pursue and asks whether or not he is free to pursue them. Kipling thought that men and women were forced to accept those goals which their group or clan in society chose for them and only when they had accepted these constraints were they free to exercise their individuality and take it for a trot. He is not unlike Durkheim who saw the individual as a bolt which might snap if the nut of society held it too tightly, or by being too loose allowed it to vibrate. Excessive integration as in the officer caste in the Army could be as dangerous as imperfect integration.

Brought up in a society untouched for generations by civil wars, revolution or economic disaster, Kipling’s English contemporaries were never compelled to consider why society still continues to hang together. But in India Kipling was forced to consider it. He believed that man achieves happiness when he comprehends where he himself fits into the scheme of things. He has to realize that spring cannot forever be spring and that winter succeeds autumn. Since men continue to nurse illusions they must be taught the terms on which they are allowed to rise. Subject the upstart, therefore, to a course of indoctrination to bring his ambition within bounds and turn his children into gentlemen. Whereas for most of the greatest writers society, with its rules, conventions, customs, morality and taboos surrounding the sacred, is the enemy and their characters in fiction are depicted as locked in heroic combat with them, for Kipling they are a donnée with which mankind has to come to terms or perish.

Kipling therefore defined the gentleman differently from Trollope. His gentleman has come down in the world, is harsher, more meagre, with fewer graces and more limitations. The gentleman has now become the manager, the colonial administrator, the engineer and the skilled worker. You feel his gentleman is more beleaguered. He is threatened from above by the politicians, threatened from below by the lower orders who now have the vote, and threatened by the new barbarians in Europe. In the fable of England he wrote for his children Kipling scanned the future with anxious eyes. Would the wall of British civilization fall again before the democratic hordes of little men and the barbarians, the Prussian Winged Hats? Were not the younger rulers like Churchill tainted by the same ambition that made Roman generals overpower the emperor? Were not the financiers manipulating trade and industry to their own ends, were not luxury and wealth corrupting the ruling class and turning their children to flannelled fools at the wicket? What would be England’s fate?

05 Jul 2016

The Ribchester Helmet

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RibchesterHelmet
The Ribchester Helmet is a Roman bronze ceremonial helmet dating to between the late 1st and early 2nd centuries AD, … now on display at the British Museum. It was found in Ribchester, Lancashire, England in 1796, as part of the Ribchester Hoard. The model of a sphinx that was believed to attach to the helmet was lost.

Wikipedia:

The helmet was discovered, part of the Ribchester Hoard, in the summer of 1796 by the son of Joseph Walton, a clogmaker. The boy found the items buried in a hollow, about three metres below the surface, on some waste land by the side of a road leading to Ribchester church, and near a river bed. The hoard was thought to have been stored in a wooden box and consisted of the corroded remains of a number of items but the largest was this helmet. In addition to the helmet, the hoard included a number of paterae, pieces of a vase, a bust of Minerva, fragments of two basins, several plates, and some other items that the antiquarian collector Charles Townley thought had religious uses. The finds were thought to have survived so well because they were covered in sand.

The helmet and other items were bought from Walton by Townley, who lived nearby at Towneley Hall. Townley was a well-known collector of Roman sculpture and antiquities, who had himself and his collection recorded in an oil painting by Johann Zoffany. Townley reported the details of the find in a detailed letter to the secretary of the Society of Antiquaries, intended for publication in the Society’s Proceedings: it was his only publication. The helmet, together with the rest of Townley’s collection, was sold to the British Museum in 1814 by his cousin, Peregrine Edward Towneley, who had inherited the collection on Townley’s death in 1805.

In addition to the items purchased by Townley, there was also originally a bronze figurine of a sphinx, but it was lost after Walton gave it to the children of one of his brothers to play with. It was suggested by Thomas Dunham Whitaker, who examined the hoard soon after it had been discovered, that the sphinx would have been attached to the top of the helmet, as it has a curved base fitting the curvature of the helmet, and has traces of solder on it. This theory has become more plausible with the discovery of the Crosby Garrett Helmet in 2010, to which is attached a winged griffin.

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