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Dark Age Obscured (History)
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Mick Harper
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Hugh Williams
The Anglo Saxon nave, porch and porticus are still in situ at St Mary's Deerhurst, what on earth are you talking about? I have photographed them myself, along with the A/S carvings of animals and dragons. We were lucky enough to bump into a trustee of the church who very kindly showed us around and pointed this and other features out. Oddas Chapel - again, I have no idea what point you are making. It is one of the finest examples of an Anglo Saxon building in the country. I'd also add that you have cancelled out your own arguments as yes, it was not in the Domesday book, but its authenticity is without doubt. So why should St Mary's Avenbury be any different?

Harriet Vered
In the first place, any competent architect and stonemason can produce naves, porches, animals in any style at any time. It’s an absolute fact that every church ever built contains ‘traditional features’. But the real problem is that we simply have no Anglo-Saxon ecclesiastical material to use as a benchmark. That would require archaeology in dated strata, not above ground churches, or ruins of churches, that can only be judged subjectively. If you know of any relevant Anglo-Saxon archaeology, even carved animals, let me know and I will compare them to your photographs and give you my verdict. Thank you.

This was unwise and Hugh decided it was time to put the insolent puppy back into her basket.

Hugh Williams
You are now actually saying that every expert that has examined and worked at both Odda's Chapel and the main church at Deerhurst were all wrong? And you are right? They all lied? I have no interest in playing games to be given your "verdict" thank you very much.

Every post I make is researched beforehand but crucially, I actually visit the places, I spend time there and where possible get extra information from talking to people there. You are now suggesting conspiracy theories about extremely well researched buildings with seemingly no professional qualifications of your own to suggest you have any weight behind your quite childish, and incorrect, nit picking.

At this point I urged Hatty to try to work a mention of one of our books into proceedings by getting him to ask

Harriet Vered
Well, I have published extensively on the subject generally and researched quite thoroughly these particular buildings, though I agree that carries no weight in itself. I have no idea what conspiracy theories you are referring to, I do not subscribe to any myself and have certainly not suggested anybody doing anything other than playing follow-my-leader here. I have put forward various technical objections which you have chosen not to respond to, so perhaps you are right and we should leave it there.

Which he did by pulling the whole exchange and banning Hatty from the site -- Hugh is one of the administrators. It was fascinating how completely uninterested everyone else was in any of this (one commented that it was refreshingly polite) while piling in with stories about ghouls and England's heritage. Nobody, not even historians, are really interested in history. Remember, the truth is always boring.
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Mick Harper
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A good illustration of the ‘truth is always boring’ principle in today’s exchange between Hatty and The Evil Ones

Dr Dan Spencer@GunpowderDan
Final stop Richard's Castle in Shropshire. It is quite hard to find and the ruins may not be that spectacular but the castle is of great significance because it is one of only a few castles built in England prior to the Norman Conquest, during the reign of Edward the Confessor

There is nothing more routine than a Norman motte-and-bailey but a pre-1066 one is of great significance because it means that the Normans were out and about long before the Conquest. This is definitely news. Hatty is yet to be convinced

Harriet Vered
It's a clearly motte-and-bailey castle. How is that "pre-Norman"?

Prompting an elegant put down from the Doctor

Dr Dan Spencer
It is pre-Norman Conquest not pre-Norman. Built by Norman settlers encouraged to settle in England during the reign of Edward the Confessor

Some bish-bosh

Harriet Vered: A nice distinction. Do you know of other pre-Norman Conquest motte and bailey castles?
Dan Spencer: Ewyas Harold in Herefordshire
Harriet Vered: Are you sure? Archaeologists say 'further work needed' on interpreting the site. Domesday entry merely records ownership in 1086 by Alfred de Marlborough.

Before Dan the Man can, Phil the Northerner does

Phil@_Northerner__
I don't see how the ownership in 1086 tells us much about events 30 or 40 years earlier. Everything I have read about it suggests that a castle was built there circa 1048, and destroyed or dismantled circa 1052, either by the Welsh or by Godwin. Then rebuilt after 1066.

How is our Hats going to fend off two assailants armed only with her trusty sword, 'show me your sources'? ...
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Mick Harper
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Harriet Vered
If you give your sources I can comment on them. Unless any other examples are known, I think we can dispense with the idea of pre-Norman Normans putting up motte-and-baileys, tearing them down and putting them up again. Such claims are usually a sign of someone making stuff up.

You tell ‘em, dear. Phil, being from the north, is slightly off message

Phil the Northerner
Well, no, we can't dispense with the idea, because it happened. Did you think England had no Norman influence before 1066 ? Edward the Confessor was half-Norman. His mother, Emma of Normandy, had been pulling strings since 1002, through her marriages to King Ethelred & King Cnut.

Hatty is a southerner

Harriet Vered
What a peculiar response to a request for source(s). Next time someone asks which was the earliest motte-and-bailey in England, I shall say Cherchez la femme.

I'm always telling her a) not to attempt humour and b) not to provoke, so now she gets a positive hornet's nest thrown at her...
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Mick Harper
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They think they can stride off triumphantly into the sunset but Hatty actually perused the sources (as did I) and it was just the usual

Harriet Vered
It's the same old story. A bunch of people citing one another on the basis of what might have been. I wouldn't mind if someone said it was 'informed speculation' but no, 'it's a fact'. For you but not for me.

As they walk off, a job well done, Dan and Phil are chatting away

Phil the Northerner
Cheers. I had actually meant to list some earlier than I did, but just didn't have chance at the time. It's an interesting era, between the return of the Danes, and the Conquest. Some people would prefer it if the whole era between 410 and 1066 hadn't happened at all.

Hatty calls after them

Harriet Vered
Some people would prefer to rely on historical sources and archaeology in dated strata to know what happened between 410 and 1066, but most just play follow-my-leader.

But I don’t think they were listening.
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Mick Harper
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Northern Phil has unexpectedly returned to the table

But you did make that claim, you wrote "I think we can dispense with the idea of pre-Norman Normans putting up motte-and-baileys, tearing them down and putting them up again. Such claims are usually a sign of someone making stuff up".

Actually that was quite impressive. But even so, since Phil has drawn it so tightly, Hatty can wriggle away

And I stand by that specific claim unless I am shown evidence to the contrary. Be my guest.

This has turned into a typical Facebook/Twitter/Other forums debate. The original question has long been forgotten and the disputants are just one-upping one another. AE-ists will know the true answer to the original question because it is open to either Dan or Phil to simply -- in one sentence -- state the evidence for a pre-Conquest motte'n'bailey and blow Hatty out of the water. This is the one thing they dare not do.

Always remember AEL Rule 79: when someone cites a source for the evidence rather than the evidence itself, they are slimy worm-like creatures that you will pay nine thousand pounds a year to so they can continue to interfere with your children.
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Mick Harper
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It is fascinating, and I hope instructive, to watch as someone who thinks they are laying down the law about A has to gradually move to laying down the law about B. The important part is the 'careful ignoral' because that somebody must never become aware that it is in reality himself that is being read the riot act.

Northern Phil: You were given multiple sources contradicting your "specific claim", and dismissed them all. Now you want more sources from me, but you have provided no sources to back up your claim. Are you the only person disputing this ?

Hatty goes all Applied Epistemological

Harriet Vered: Nope. I have been given a large number of references. We have a saying, “When people keep quoting authorities instead of citing sources, there are no sources.” Remember: one document, one dig, that’s all it takes.

Phil makes one last attempt to escape the net in a spectacular display of projective identification

Northern Phil: So you will not cite any sources, or acknowledge who or where you get this idea from ?

Hatty patiently reminds him which one of them is in what bag

Harriet Vered: I cannot produce evidence for something I am saying doesn't exist. If you want to say there were pre-Conquest motte-and-baileys then say what the evidence is. You have to point to an actual contemporary document or an actual archaeological dig that points to them existing. But you just won't do this. You think they existed, Dan Spencer thinks they existed, maybe the entire British medievalist community thinks they existed. As soon as you show me the evidence I will think they existed. It's very, very simple.

We'll see.
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Mick Harper
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Phil tries one more time then does as he's told

Northern Phil: You can't point to any experts in this field, that deny they existed ? The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records at least one castle built by Normans, in Herefordshire, in 1051, and mentions at least two castles that Edward's French court fled to, during the crisis of 1051/1052.

So Hatty gives him a biscuit then tells him to go fetch once more

Harriet Vered: Well done! I knew you could do it. Now all you have do is show these are motte-and-baileys.

Phil returns but is his tail wagging?

Northern Phil: ? It was touched on in the links. Anyway.. 'A great mound of earth, topped with a large wooden tower, surrounded by an enclosure...the monk didn’t even have a word of his own to describe it...he had to settle for the word the foreigners themselves used, and called it a castle'

Hatty thinks so and closes it out (she thinks)

Harriet Vered: That will do. I won’t go into why I have come to the conclusion that the ASC is not a secure source. You’ve shown willing and that’s more than most people manage!
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Mick Harper
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One of the objects of the exercise is to try to find out what they think we are up to. (Phil is taking up cudgels against Hatty elsewhere on Twitter.) It's some sort of conspiracy theory but they won't -- ones hopes because they can't -- ever say what it is.

Northern Phil: I knew you would say that. But I don't think that is all that this idea is based on, and you have shown no sources to dispute it, at all. What sort of accommodation do you imagine Edward's French friends/knights/barons living in, in a foreign country/in the Welsh Marches ?

Hatty ignores the request for her sources. This is what prompts most of the opposition we run into. Our opponents cannot grasp that a new idea cannot be 'sourced' because they think of sources and authorities as the same thing.

Harriet Vered: I think 'knights and barons' a tad anachronous but no doubt had some sort of guarded emplacement. They have been around since the dawn of warfare. It's only motte and baileys that interests us here. Not that I've got any rooted objection to them either.

Phil now realises he has won and moves in for the kill

Northern Phil: I don't think it is anachronous. But anyway, as they had been building motte and baileys in Normandy since the late 10th century, and then built lots of them in England after 1066, do you think it likely that they built a different type in England in the 15-20 years before 1066 ?

Hatty is happy to concede the victory. But on her terms.

Harriet Vered: Seems reasonable to me, if all these assumptions are correct. But pre-Conquest Normans in England seem unlikely to me on general grounds, the whole Confessor period more likely to be a back-projection to justify William's legitimacy. They had control of all the sources, remember

And there it has been laid to rest. What has been achieved? While I think it fair to say that they 'won' -- and easily at that -- it has been at the cost of their consciousness being raised. At the outset both Dr Dan and Northern Phil (and the watching multitudes) believed that pre-Conquest motte and baileys were an established fact, supported by a plethora of sources and authorities. It turns out to have been an iffy monk.
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Wile E. Coyote


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I have always found the Gatehouse Gazetteer an excellent source.

They quote all the the different sources, and date them, then add some comments.

The claim of the Gatehouse based on the other sources was this was a square castle or saxon Manor that was turned into a later motte and crescent.

The round tower at the base of the curtain wall and access point to motte contains a series of holes. This is suggested as a later inserted dovecote. There is nothing to actually suggest this is an insertion and Gatehouse considers it was built as a ground level dovecote in c. 1220 with residential chambers over it.

Not believing in 'Saxon Manors', Wiley will hazard a guess that this was a Roman settlement, as they liked tidy squared designs.
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Wile E. Coyote


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It is quite interesting that the sources claim there seems little doubt that Richard's castle was called Auretone in the Domesday Survey (1086), when it was held by Osbern Fitz Richard. Domesday records just 48 castle in all, of which 45 in Great Domesday.

Modern archaeologists have located 5-600 hundred "castles" built during the conquest.
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Hatty
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Richard's castle is thought to have been built by Osbern, the son of Richard le Scrob, but then again it could have been constructed by Richard père. No particular reason given, perhaps he just wanted to show off, though perhaps somewhat inadvisable in the circs

Domesday rather fudges the issue of who built what and when

From ‘Domesday’ we find that in the time of King Edward Richard FitzScrob held the manors of Burford in Shropshire, together with four manors in Worcestershire and lands in Herefordshire. He is said to have erected the building known as Richard's Castle in Herefordshire, which was the first regular castle erected on English land.

The Herefordshire ‘Domesday’ mentions no such castle, but connects a castle, called Auretone, with Osbern, son of Richard, and one Richard (no doubt Richard FitzScrob) with an adjacent manor.
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Mick Harper
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In the interests of closure I attach some later exchanges without comment

Phil the Northerner: I don't think the earliest one in France dated to 979, and what was built in England after 1066, is based on assumptions. Why would William's 'legitimacy' need to be justified ? It was a conquest not a succession.

Harriet Vered: So the (Norman) chronicles say, and so the Battle of Hastings says. Only we can't find the Battle of Hastings, can we?

Phil the Northerner: If sources were controlled, why was Vitalis allowed to say what he did about William & the Harrying of the North ? The worst stain on his life, like nothing an English king had ever done before, wouldn't that have been exponged, especially if anyone cared about his 'legitimacy' ?

Harriet Vered: Does anybody still take Vitalis seriously? But in any case this sounds like standard Angevin propaganda when, for instance, most of the monasteries were claiming to be pre-Norman (i.e. Anglo-Saxon) foundations. Or so their charters said.

Phil the Northerner: Whether he is taken seriously now or not, the point stands, or are you are saying the Harrying was Angevin propaganda too? It makes sense that sites were re-used, especially strategic locations or religious places. Evidence of several time periods is often found at the same site

Harriet Vered: I take no position about the Harrying. However I disagree about strategic locations. Places may continue in existence for economic reasons but it is quite rare for one regime to have the same strategic desiderata as the previous one or the following one.
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Mick Harper
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I have been reflecting on this apparently unimportant exchange. This is the ideal situation as I understand it

1. Somebody with thousands of Twitter followers posts up a routine picture of a Norman motte-and-bailey
2. He reports the apparently well-known fact that it is pre-1066, built by Normans for the Anglo-Norman regime of Edward the Confessor
3. Hatty had never heard of these so politely requests the sources
4. She is snowed under with them
5. Hatty, her nails needing re-touching, outsources the sources to M J Harper
6. Who reports they're the usual tripe
7. After the usual demands with menaces from Hatty, 'they' find the sources are tripe too.
8. Though not tripey enough to reconsider the question of pre-Norman Normans
9. Everyone goes their own way

10. The universe has been tilted by a millibit.
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Mick Harper
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We haven't had a Hattibanning lately, not since Tuesday, so I bring you a modest example of the genre though not without its interest. It is about something we both know far too much about for our own good, or anybody else's.

Arthur Westwell
Yes, I went long out of my way to see Germany's oldest bell. In one of Bavaria's oldest church foundations, St Georg in Murnau am Staffelsee. The bell is 8th century and likely of [....] manufacture

Did you think you could just sit confortably riding on giants' shoulders? No. You have three guesses where Germany's oldest bell was manufactured. Think, second world war bombing, think the iron ore fields of Eskilstuna, think Die Meisterminen von Glockenammerau. No conferring.
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Mick Harper
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The bell is 8th century and likely of Irish manufacture, so was brought by one of Bavaria's evangelists to this lovely quiet place.

All right, that might have tripped some of you up but you can redeem yourself by knowing where the heart of the Irish metalbashing industry was beating in the eighth century.

The common suggestion is it was made in Iona by comparison to other metalwork but it's very hard to know for sure.

What we call off-Ireland. Hatty who knows as much about heavy metal as her son who I had to give a quiet lecture to about the seminal influence of Jethro Tull, lead guitarist with Iron Buttercup, approached the question from a different direction

Harriet Vered
Not very likely since archaeologists say Kirche St Georg didn't exist before the 14th century. The earliest written record of the church is dated 1332. Bavaria has a long industrial history of ironworking and mining for iron ore in the Bavarian Alps in contrast to, say, Iona.

I may have my Harriet but Arthur has his Anna

Anna Dorofeeva
Irish missionaries travelled with such bells. This one was brought to Bavaria in this way & preserved in a series of churches. It's been examined by archaeologists who dated & located it to Iona. Arthur's not just speculating; he's a historian who knows what he's talking about.
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