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Meetings with Remarkable Forgeries (British History)
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Hatty
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Historians appear to take one-offs in their stride. Another ninth-century document mysteriously surfaced in a solicitor's office in Norfolk. It's a charter dated AD 840 purportedly issued by someone called Cuthwulf (Bishop) of Hereford about whom nothing is known

It was found in the office of a legal gentleman, Mr Kent, of Fakenham, in a parcel of comparatively modern writings which had recently come into his possession and there is good reason for assuming it to be an original charter of the ninth century.

Of Bishop Cuthwulf, who makes the donation recorded in the document, no charter has yet been printed.

The provenance could hardly be more apt.
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Boreades


In: finity and beyond
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Evening all.

Coincidentally (on the theme of stuff being copied), at Sunday School today, the vicar told the grown-ups a salutory tale on the dangers of copying other people's work, and not being careful. It went something like this :

A silly young monk arrives at the monastery. He is assigned to helping the other monks in copying the old canons and laws of the church, by hand. He notices, however, that all of the monks are copying from copies, not from the original manuscript.

So, the new monk goes to the Old Abbot to question this, pointing out that if someone made even a small error in the first copy, it would never be picked up! In fact, that error would be continued in all of the subsequent copies.

The head monk says, "We have been copying from the copies for centuries, but you make a good point, my son." He goes down into the dark caves underneath the monastery where the original manuscripts are held as archives, in a locked vault that hasn't been opened for hundreds of years. Hours go by and nobody sees the Old Abbot.

So, the young monk gets worried and goes down to look for him. He sees him banging his head against the wall and wailing.

"We missed the R! We missed the R! We missed the bloody R!"

His forehead is all bloody and bruised and he is crying uncontrollably. The young monk asks the old Abbot, "What's wrong, father?"

With a choking voice, the old Abbot replies,
"The word was ....CELEBRATE.


Careful how you go.
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Mick Harper
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In: London
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Interesting concatenation of skinheads and Dr de Hamel in Josephine Livingstone's review in the New Yorker. We'd better watch out what company we keep.
https://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/the-complicated-political-lives-of-medieval-manuscripts

PS Forgeries is in the National Library of Scotland. "It's a raw bricht moonlicht nicht the nicht" (Nietzsche).
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Hatty
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Josephine Livingstone also wrote an article in the New Yorker on various (mis)representations of the green man. It's similarly lucid and has a good background summary of nineteenth-century through to more contemporary fashions. Most of them seem to stem from Frazer's Golden Bough.

But there's an absence of earlier background. The green man carvings are presumably a homage to St Denis, France's patron saint aka Dionysius, god of the vine, no more (or less) Christian than the vine of Jesse. The Abbey of St Denis is credited with kickstarting Gothic architecture so it could be considered remiss if the titular saint wasn't commemorated.

https://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/the-remarkable-persistence-of-the-green-man
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Mick Harper
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This review just got posted on Amazon by 'a verifed Kindle purchaser'

This is a brilliant little book that deserves to reach a broader audience. It's charmingly witty, while delivering a well researched set of arguments that only those with a vested interest could fail to accept. If you are by nature open minded, I guarantee you will find yourself nodding in agreement. I found it difficult to put down.

which is odd since it is isn't available on Kindle. Oh well, beggars and choosers and all that.
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Boreades


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N R Scott wrote:
People like Brian Cox and Neil deGrasse Tyson are very TV friendly, but they completely lack gravitas.


Brian Cox revealed he wants to become Prime Minister on BBC Radio 2’s Chris Evans breakfast show:

I should just try and be Prime Minister, bring a bit of common sense… At the moment I dunno, and I’m not being party political, you can look across all parties and you think it’d be great if a scientist were just having a bit of clarity of thought, you know? Wouldn’t it?
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Hatty
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The centrepiece of a 2018 Anglo-Saxon exhibition to be hosted by the British Library is the Codex Amiatinus.

Codex Amiatinus, the earliest complete Latin Bible, will be returning to Britain for the first time in over 1,300 years ago for display in the exhibition.

It was purportedly returned to Italy in 716 by Ceolfrith, the abbot of the (as yet undiscovered) 'twin-monasteries' of Monkwearmouth and Jarrow. Not only is the monastery invisible, so is the original manuscript which Ceolfrith copied. It was such a huge book that it was also called Codex Grandior

The Codex Grandior is said to have been brought from Vivarium in Italy to Jarrow in England and there copied by Coelfrith and then brought back to Italy; its exemplar destroyed by Vikings.

How efficient the Vikings were because Ceolfrith and his monks are said to have made three copies. Only one survived and it wasn't Made In Britain.

Two sister-volumes of the Codex Amiatinus, somewhat less elaborate, were also produced. Unfortunately, all that remains of them are a few pages discovered in 1909 in a curiosity shop in Newcastle-upon-Tyne by a Rev. W. Greenwell, and eleven further leaves, used as covers for estate accounts, which came to light in the late 1930s, also in the North of England.

They're all terribly excited over at the library. The head of manuscripts, Dr Claire Breay, has been blogging away http://blogs.bl.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2017/11/anglo-saxon-kingdoms-exhibition-to-open-in-2018.html

You will no doubt recognise the Codex's most famous illustration of Ezra as it's on the front cover of Meetings With Remarkable Forgeries.
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Mick Harper
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Phew! The Venerable Alice Roberts claims they've found St Columba's monastery on Iona which would mean pulping Forgeries since it claims that neither ever existed. They find an embankment, they call it a valle; they find a curved wall, they call it an apse; they find some iron slag and claim it's the monks making thingies for the church; they draw a map that looks like Jerusalem and claim it looks like Jerusalem. And it's all seventh century!

Or a bog standard Megalithics' site on a nodal point in the British seaways as we would call it. See Alice in wonderland here, about ten minutes in
https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b09hgdx0/digging-for-britain-series-6-3-north
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Hatty
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In: Berkshire
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An extraordinarily surreal exposé in both senses. The section of curved stone wall, a so-called apse, apparently indicates Iona's as yet undiscovered monastery though Prof Alice Roberts explains all seventh century monasteries are 'known' to be of wood, not stone (otherwise they'd have been found by now, wouldn't they?).

There was tremendous elation because archaeologists digging on Iona in July 2017 claimed they could "categorically prove" some charred remains are part of St Columba's hut, thanks to scientific dating methods

Carbon dating has led to the significant breakthrough, which categorically proves samples of hazel charcoal, unearthed from an excavation of a simple wattle and timber structure on Iona 60 years ago, dates back to the exact period Columba lived and worked at the Inner Hebridean monastery. It may be the monk’s ‘cell’ where he prayed and studied in isolation.

The samples, excavated in 1957 by British archaeologist Professor Charles Thomas, were kept in his garage in Cornwall, preserved in matchboxes, until 2012 when they were given to Historic Scotland (now Historic Environment Scotland). A University of Glasgow team of archaeologists identified the significance of the finds and recently submitted the samples for carbon dating.

Rather than crowing over their discovery, Alice Roberts omitted to mention it so presumably the technology has disproved the archaeologists' claim. Bit soon to pulp the book I reckon.
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Mick Harper
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I won't have to send them my usual cheque this year.

Meetings with Remarkable Forgeries
£12.99 + £2.80 UK delivery
Used - Like New. Slight shelf wear.
Dispatched from Amnesty International, London.
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Mick Harper
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Our old friend 'Professor' Levi Roach has just tweeted this

I am extremely pleased to announce that my book on 10thC forgery will be published by @PrincetonUPress. Now I just need to write it...

It will be interesting to see whether anything subliminally stuck, though Levikins is still wedded to the old technology so we won't find out until c. 2020 (assuming he writes it in 2018). These people would rather have the Princeton imprimatur than burst into print to be read in real time by real contemporaries in the real world to engage in real controversies.

Forgeries was written, published (and read by Mr Roach) inside a year. It will also be interesting to see who outsells whom, as Lenin nearly put it.
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Wile E. Coyote


In: Arizona
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Hatty wrote:


There was tremendous elation because archaeologists digging on Iona in July 2017 claimed they could "categorically prove" some charred remains are part of St Columba's hut, thanks to scientific dating methods

Carbon dating has led to the significant breakthrough, which categorically proves samples of hazel charcoal, unearthed from an excavation of a simple wattle and timber structure on Iona 60 years ago, dates back to the exact period Columba lived and worked at the Inner Hebridean monastery. It may be the monk’s ‘cell’ where he prayed and studied in isolation.

The samples, excavated in 1957 by British archaeologist Professor Charles Thomas, were kept in his garage in Cornwall, preserved in matchboxes, until 2012 when they were given to Historic Scotland (now Historic Environment Scotland). A University of Glasgow team of archaeologists identified the significance of the finds and recently submitted the samples for carbon dating.






Telegraph wrote:
Prof Thomas died last year but Dr Adrian Maldonado, from the University of Glasgow, described the dating as vindication of his foresight in storing the samples.

"Thomas always believed he and his team had uncovered Columba's original wooden hut but they could never prove it because the technology wasn't there," he said.

"So, for us, 60 years later, to be able to send the original samples off to the radiocarbon dating labs and have them come back showing, within the margin of error, as something which may have been built in the lifetime of St Columba, is very exciting.

"This is as close as any archaeologist has come to excavating a structure built during the time of St Columba and it is a great vindication of the archaeological instincts of Thomas and his team."

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/07/11/wooden-hut-associated-st-columba-dates-lifetime-archaeologists/

I don't really understand why, if he stored the samples (as he knew of their significance), Thomas, who only died last year, had not sought carbon dating of the hazel much earlier himself.
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Hatty
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So what if Thomas had dated the hazel charcoal? Would it have 'proved' anything beyond the fact that people involved in maintaining one of the staging posts on a major seaway had something to eat?
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Mick Harper
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I'm not so sure.
1. Carbon dating is entirely routine
2. Iona is the most important archaeological site in Scotland
3. St Columba's monastery on Iona is one of the most important ingredients in the rise of medieval Europe
4. The rise of medieval Europe is the foundation of modern history.

Anyone who thinks the omission is an unfortunate oversight must have a pretty poor view of historians and archaeologists.
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aurelius



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Many professionals, even after they have retired, tend to maintain an interest in their subject. According to this:

https://www.quora.com/How-has-the-accuracy-of-radiocarbon-dating-improved-over-the-last-50-years

whereas the technology was not accurate enough in 1957 to date material to someone's lifetime you would have thought it would have occurred to him to submit the samples for testing, say, by the 1980s. Curiosity would have got the better of me, for sure. Odd.
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