April 29, 2008

Travel Notes

We stayed at the Gold Hill Hotel this weekend, which is the oldest hotel in Nevada. Highly recommend it if you're in the Virginia City area. On Tuesday nights, they have historical lectures w/barbecue for $15 a person.

Will have photos later.

Posted by Ith at 11:27 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 14, 2007

New 'Skara Brae'

Experts uncover Orkney's new Skara Brae and the great wall that separated living from dead.

Like I needed a reason to take another trip there!

Posted by Ith at 4:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 19, 2007

Viking Voyage

This is so cool!

Follow the reconstructed Viking ship, 'Sea Stallion', on one of the most perilous archaeology experiments ever attempted.

Posted by Ith at 7:04 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 12, 2007

Experience Ancient Rome, Virtually

Computer experts on Monday unveiled a digital reproduction of ancient Rome as it appeared at the peak of its power in A.D. 320 — what they called the largest and most complete simulation of a historic city ever created.

Visitors to virtual Rome will be able to do even more than ancient Romans did: They can crawl through the bowels of the Colosseum, filled with lion cages and primitive elevators, and fly up for a detailed look at bas-reliefs and inscriptions atop triumphal arches.

"This is the first step in the creation of a virtual time machine, which our children and grandchildren will use to study the history of Rome and many other great cities around the world," said Bernard Frischer of the University of Virginia, who led the project.

The rest here.

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March 19, 2007

Orion and Orkney

I have a real love of Orkney and actually got to visit there once. One of the best websites for the islands is Orkneyjar. I hadn't been to the website in a while, so was browsing what's new, and came across this article: On earth as it is in heaven - was Orion linked to Orkney's Neolithic heartland?

Fascinating stuff -- and Orion is my favourite constellation!

Posted by Ith at 12:35 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 16, 2007

'True Thermopylaes '

Haven't seen '300' yet, but this was a really good preview/reveiw.

The story behind Frank Miller's '300.'

I will be seeing it this weekend though.

Posted by Ith at 9:38 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 31, 2006

Utterly Cool

The Black Book of Carmarthen (Llyfr Du Caerfyrddin) & The Red Book of Hergest are available online.

Currently housed at the National Library in Wales, the Black Book of Carmarthen (Peniarth MS 1) is a manuscript dating to the middle of the thirteenth century. It is believed to have been the work of a single scribe at the Priory of St. John in Carmarthen.

Posted by Ith at 3:50 PM | Comments (1)

June 4, 2006

A Bit Of Family Stuff

The next Red Ensign Standard will have a genealogy theme, so I thought I'd post a link to a magazine article that mentions my great grandmaother, Annie Anderson Heal: Pioneer Women in the Valley.

And here's her father's M.P.P. portrait from the B.C. archives:

george anderson.jpg
George William Anderson
Posted by Ith at 12:28 PM | Comments (5)

June 1, 2006

Really Old Book

ATHENS, Greece - A collection of charred scraps kept in a Greek museum's storerooms are all that remains of what archaeologists say is Europe's oldest surviving book which may hold a key to understanding early monotheistic beliefs.

More than four decades after the Derveni papyrus was found in a 2,400-year-old nobleman's grave in northern Greece, researchers said Thursday they are close to uncovering new text through high-tech digital analysis from the blackened fragments left after the manuscript was burnt on its owner's funeral pyre.


The scroll, originally several yards of papyrus rolled around two wooden runners, was found half burnt in 1962. It dates to around 340 B.C., during the reign of Philip II of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great.

"It is the oldest surviving book, if you can use that word for a scroll, in western tradition," Veleni said. "This was a unique find, of exceptional importance."

Greek philosophy expert Apostolos Pierris said the text may be a century older.

"It was probably written by somebody from the circle of the philosopher Anaxagoras, in the second half of the 5th century B.C.," he said.

Anaxagoras, who lived in ancient Athens, is thought to have been the teacher of Socrates and was accused by his contemporaries of atheism.

Posted by Ith at 12:54 PM | Comments (1)

May 17, 2006

Endeavour Found?

Capt. Cook's Endeavour may be found off Rhode Island

Four ships from a British fleet used during the Revolutionary War have been found off Rhode Island, and one may be the vessel 18th century explorer Captain James Cook sailed on his epic voyage to Australia, archaeologists said on Tuesday.
Posted by Ith at 8:37 AM | Comments (1)

May 12, 2006


Decline and fall of the Roman myth by Terry Jones

We were barbarians, but early British civilisation outshone the Roman version, says ex-Python Terry Jones. We just lost the propaganda war Nobody ever called themselves barbarians. Its not that sort of word. Its a word used about other people. It was used by the ancient Greeks to describe non-Greek people whose language they could not understand and who therefore seemed to babble unintelligibly: ba ba ba. The Romans adopted the Greek word and used it to label (and usually libel) the peoples who surrounded their own world.

The Roman interpretation became the only one that counted, and the peoples whom they called Barbarians became for ever branded be they Spaniards, Britons, Gauls, Germans, Scythians, Persians or Syrians. And, of course, barbarian has become a byword for the very opposite of everything that we consider civilised.

The Romans kept the Barbarians at bay for as long as they could, but finally they were engulfed and the savage hordes overran the empire, destroying the cultural achievements of centuries. The light of reason and civilisation was almost snuffed out by the Barbarians, who annihilated everything that the Romans had put in place, sacking Rome itself and consigning Europe to the Dark Ages. The Barbarians brought only chaos and ignorance, until the renaissance rekindled the fires of Roman learning and art.

It is a familiar story, and its codswallop.

Read the rest.

Posted by Ith at 9:40 AM | Comments (3)

February 15, 2006

Ancient Cave Art Full of Teenage Graffiti

I find this amusing. Yet another example of historically significant graffiti. I've seen the Viking graffiti here at Maeshowe -- something the site is famous for, in addition to the Neolithic cairn itself (I have this rune as a pair of earrings). And then there's the 19th century graffiti in Sedona at their petroglyph site.

Posted by Ith at 9:44 AM

February 4, 2006

Greek Shipwreck from 350 BC Revealed

The remains of an ancient Greek cargo ship that sank more than 2,300 years ago have been uncovered with a deep-sea robot, archaeologists announced today.

The article can be found here.

Posted by Ith at 2:12 PM

December 23, 2005

Christmas Poll

Curious about what time you have your Christmas dinner. I was surprised at talking with people over the last week to discover many people eat at 1-2pm. We always eat around 6-7pm. And I want to know what you eat when you eat it! Me: turkey, stuffing, garlic mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts (yeck!), some sort of sweet potato thing (double yeck!), corn, and plum pudding for dessert, plus the left over baked goods from our Christmas Eve celebration (when we open our gifts). And last, toss in your favourite Xmas carol for good measure.

A bit later: should add the above is what we used to do. Now it's just me and April and she's working on Christmas 3-12am. So I'll be all alone eating a grilled cheese sandwich or something.

More Later: I polled my coworkers and they are somewhere between 4-6pm for Xmas dinner.

The usual drill: leave info in comments, or trackback form your own blog.

Posted by Ith at 9:13 AM | Comments (9)

December 2, 2005

Has the Palace of King David Been Discovered?

Quite possibly, according to this archaeologist.

Posted by Ith at 8:45 AM

December 1, 2005


We're expecting a doozy of a storm today. We're under a severe weather alert for high winds and barrels of rain (that's a technical term) Keep your fingers crossed we don't lose power!


Posted by Ith at 9:41 AM | Comments (3)

November 30, 2005

Happy St. Andrew's Day


Posted by Ith at 8:12 AM | Comments (3)

November 29, 2005

"Must See" for Xmas

Inspired by Deb's post here, what movie or TV show is a must see over the holidays?

If I could recommend just one Xmas themed movie, it would be Bernard and the Genie. I've adored this movie since I saw in on PBS about ten years ago.

Posted by Ith at 3:26 PM | Comments (5)

November 24, 2005

Hitchens Interview

Just finished watching a very good interview on FNC with Christopher Hitchens about his new book, Thomas Jefferson : Author of America, and the state of the world in general. I admit, I just love listening to him talk. One of the questions was what would Jefferson be amazed and appalled at today. His answer was he'd be amazed by American womanhood, and appalled that we hadn't taken over Canada yet [snicker]

(the interview was on Brit Hume's show, so you should be able to catch it when it repeats tonight)

Posted by Ith at 3:48 PM | Comments (1)

November 8, 2005

The Libertine


I'd despaired of this movie ever being released here, and figured I'd have to look for it in the Foreign Movie DVD bin at some future date. But, yay! It opens Dec. 25!

A Little Later: here's a website for the movie I found a few years back. Quite a few set photos. And I found a TRAILER!

Posted by Ith at 1:01 PM | Comments (7)

November 1, 2005

Joanna Southcott's Box

I'd never heard of it till this morning when it was mentioned by John Derbyshire on The Corner.

Posted by Ith at 9:14 AM

October 31, 2005

All Souls Night


Words by music by Loreena McKennitt

Bonfires dot the rolling hills
Figures dance around and around
To drums that pulse out echoes of darkness
Moving to the pagan sound.

Somewhere in a hidden memory
Images float before my eyes
Of fragrant nights of straw and of bonfires
And dancing till the next sunrise.

I can see lights in the distance
Trembling in the dark cloak of night
Candles and lanterns are dancing, dancing
A waltz on All Souls Night.

Figures of cornstalks bend in the shadows
Held up tall as the flames leap high
The green knight holds the holly bush
To mark where the old year passes by.


Bonfires dot the rolling hillsides
Figures dance around and around
To drums that pulse out echoes of darkness
And moving to the pagan sound.
Standing on the bridge that crosses
The river that goes out to the sea
The wind is full of a thousand voices
They pass by the bridge and me

Audio here.

And from this weekend, audio for Annachie Gordon.

Posted by Ith at 3:53 PM | Comments (5)

October 29, 2005

Annachie Gordon

I'm not just blogging and cleaning, I'm listening to some of my favourite tunes:

Annachie Gordon by Loreena McKennitt album: Parallel Dreams (1989)

Harking is bonny and there lives my love
My heart lies on him and cannot remove
It cannot remove for all that I have done
And I never will forget my love Annachie
For Annachie Gordon he's bonny and he's bright
He'd entice any woman that e'er he saw
He'd entice any woman and so he has done me
And I never will forget my love Annachie.

Down came her father and he's standing at the door
Saying Jeannie you are trying the tricks of a whore
You care nothing for a man who cares so much for thee
You must marry Lord Sultan and leave Annachie
For Annachie Gordon is barely but a man
Although he may be pretty but where are his lands
The Sultan's lands are broad and his towers they run high
You must marry Lord Sultan and leave Annachie.

With Annachie Gordon I beg for my bread
And before I marry Sultan his gold to my head
With gold to my head and straight down to my knees
And I'll die if I don't get my love Annachie
And you who are my parents to church you may me bring
But unto Lord Sultan I'll never bear a son
To a son or a daughter I'll never bow my knee
And I'll die if I don't get my love Annachie.

Jeannie was married and from church was brought home
When she and her maidens so merry should have been
When she and her maidens so merry should have been
She goes into her chamber and cries all alone.

Come to my bed my Jeannie my honey and my sweet
To stile you my mistress it would be so sweet
Be it mistress or Jeanne it's all the same to me
But in your bed Lord Sultan I never will lie
And down came her father and he's spoken with reknown
Saying you who are her maidens
Go loosen up her gowns
And she fell down to the floor
And straight down to her knee saying
Father look I'm dying for my love Annachie.

The day that Jeanne married was the day that Jeannie died
And the day that young Annachie came home on the tide
And down came her maidens all wringing of their hands
Saying oh it's been so long, you've been so long on the sands
So long on the sands, so long on the flood
They have married your Jeannie and now she lies dead.

You who are her maidens come take me by the hand
And lead me to the chamber where my love she lies in
And he kissed her cold lips till his heart it turned to stone
And he died in the chamber where his love she lies in..

I do love traditional Scottish music If you follow this link, and scroll down, you'll find a translation of the original.

Posted by Ith at 3:28 PM | Comments (4)

August 21, 2005


If you like gothic/Victorian/fantasy style clotihng, check out this website. I'm still working my way through the site, but I'm quite fond of this & this.

Posted by Ith at 1:15 PM

August 16, 2005

Pipefest 2005

Massing to make a record

Marching on in Edinburgh in tune with changing times

And many more piping and Pipefest related articles here.

And the official site, of course, here.

Posted by Ith at 4:23 PM

August 15, 2005

"K" or "S"?

The Bad Celtic Page & the Celtic FAQ

Posted by Ith at 11:22 AM

August 14, 2005

Iona of the East

This website is wonderful. It belongs to a gentleman who just joined my Celts email list. The section of the website I'm really enjoying is the one about Incholm, the "Iona of the East".

Posted by Ith at 11:29 AM

August 11, 2005

1 in 25

Surprise! 1-in-25 Dads Not the Real Father

And in other science news, can I get a hearty YEAH! on this one?

Posted by Ith at 12:58 PM | Comments (2)

August 9, 2005

CSI: 18th Century

A grave discovery as joiner digs up 300-year-old bones

A 300-YEAR-OLD murder mystery has been unearthed after an amateur archaeologist stumbled across human bones on a construction site.

The remains were discovered on the site of the new Queen Margaret University campus in Craighall, Musselburgh.

And it is now believed the bones are the remains of a female murder victim, as one of them appears to have been severed by a knife or another sharp instrument.

But although police were informed of the find, they are not launching an investigation because the remains have lain in the ground for almost 300 years.

The bones were sent to top forensic pathologist Anthony Busuttil, who has worked on high-profile cases including the Jodi Jones murder, for examination.

Archaeologists have now been called in to try to solve the mystery of the bones.

The chilling discovery was made by 32-year-old joiner Larney Cavanagh.

He said he found a variety of bones and knew immediately they were human.

He said: "I have always been into archaeology - it's my hobby. I was walking past the site early on Friday when I decided to have a little look.

"There is excavation work going on at the site just now. I rummaged around in the earth and scraped some soil away and that's when I came across the bones.

"I found part of a skull, an ankle bone, ribs and finger bones. I recognised them to be human remains - they were too long to be animal bones. One of them looked as though it had been cut with something."

Professor Busuttil said the remains of a "mature woman" consisted of part of her ribs, elbow, cranium and thumbs, and said the condition of one of the bones led him to suspect she may have been the victim of murder.

Although mystery surrounds the identity of the woman and how she met her death, the 18th century was a turbulent time for the Lothians.

Bridget Simpson, archaeologist for East Lothian Council, said there could be more remains buried at the site.

The large numbers of archaeological remains in this area, particularly prehistoric and Roman remains, suggest that other archaeological remains may be identified.

Posted by Ith at 12:03 PM | Comments (1)

August 3, 2005

Mother Nature Knows Best

Another study that shows the benefits of the normal food chain being reinstated with the return of the wolf. Not that it's a surprise to me, but it's nice to see.

A hearty AVAST! to My Own Thoughts for the link.

Posted by Ith at 8:11 PM | Comments (2)

August 1, 2005

I Love This Sort Of Stuff

British Have Changed Little Since Ice Age, Gene Study Says

Despite invasions by Saxons, Romans, Vikings, Normans, and others, the genetic makeup of today's white Britons is much the same as it was 12,000 ago, a new book claims.

In The Tribes of Britain, archaeologist David Miles says around 80 percent of the genetic characteristics of most white Britons have been passed down from a few thousand Ice Age hunters.

Miles, research fellow at the Institute of Archaeology in Oxford, England, says recent genetic and archaeological evidence puts a new perspective on the history of the British people.

"There's been a lot of arguing over the last ten years, but it's now more or less agreed that about 80 percent of Britons' genes come from hunter-gatherers who came in immediately after the Ice Age," Miles said.


.... Population estimates based on the size and density of settlements put Britain's population at about 3.5 million by the time Romans invaded in A.D. 43.

Many historians now believe subsequent invaders from mainland Europe had little genetic impact on the British.

The notion that large-scale migrations caused drastic change in early Britain has been widely discredited, according to Simon James, an archaeologist at Leicester University, England.

"The gene pool of the island has changed, but more slowly and far less completely than implied by the old invasion model," James writes in an article for the website BBC History.

For the English, their defining period was the arrival of Germanic tribes known collectively as the Anglo-Saxons. Some researchers suggest this invasion consisted of as few as 10,000 to 25,000 peoplenot enough to displace existing inhabitants.


.... "It is actually quite common to observe important cultural change, including adoption of wholly new identities, with little or no biological change to a population," Simon James, the Leicester University archaeologist, writes.

One such change is the emergence of a Celtic identity in Britain. There are no historical references to Celts in ancient Britain.

Miles explained that "Celts" was a name applied to tribes in Gaulmodern-day Francethough their language shared the same root as those spoken by British tribes.

"In the 18th and 19th centuries, as Ireland, Wales, and Scotland started to assert national identity, they began to talk about themselves as Celts," Miles added.

Posted by Ith at 9:47 AM | Comments (2)

July 27, 2005

What's In A Name?

Falling in with the general name theme here and here, I got sucked into name websites. I love names!! I really do. So, this is for Fugitive Jen: At Least 175 Ways to Spell Jennifer.

And the whole website is pretty kewl if you are interested in Celtic names.

One of my favourite Scottish Celtic names? Lioslaith. Though I'd always thought if I'd ever had kids I'd name a girl Catriona or Trevyn.

Posted by Ith at 5:38 PM | Comments (1)

July 12, 2005


Ancient Canals Found at Arizona Construction Site

Archaeologists working at a proposed development site in Mesa say they have unearthed one of the largest integrated canal systems the Hohokam Indians ever built in the Phoenix area.

Twenty Hohokam canals, uncovered during an ongoing archaeological survey of the 240-acre site, have been found since October. The largest measures 45 feet wide and 16 feet deep.

"They are the size of canals in Phoenix today, but these were done with digging sticks and baskets,'' said Tom Wilson, an archaeologist and director of the Mesa Southwest Museum. "There are some extraordinary things there.''

Other archaeological remains were also found, including a half-dozen pit houses and hundreds of pottery fragments and artifacts.

Historians believe the Hohokam lived in central and southern Arizona for about 1,500 years, sometime between 300 B.C. and A.D. 1400. They were a largely agricultural community known for their sophisticated canal systems.

Posted by Ith at 4:05 PM | Comments (1)

June 22, 2005

Not A Methodist

When I took Peter's test last week, I came out heavily Methodist. A new test, (via the Llamas) has me 100% in my own actual church this time. Interestingly, I scored second, and at a fairly high percentage, in Eastern Orthodox. That's interesting to me because I've been interested in that faith the last few years.

Rank Item Percent
1: Anglican/Episcopal/Church of England (100%)
2: Eastern Orthodox (97%)
3: Lutheran (79%)
4: Methodist/Wesleyan/Nazarene (68%)
5: Roman Catholic (68%)
6: Presbyterian/Reformed (65%)
7: Congregational/United Church of Christ (61%)
8: Church of Christ/Campbellite (56%)
9: Baptist (Reformed/Particular/Calvinistic) (52%)
10: Pentecostal/Charismatic/Assemblies of God (50%)
11: Baptist (non-Calvinistic)/Plymouth Brethren/Fundamentalist (40%)
12: Anabaptist (Mennonite/Quaker etc.) (25%)
13: Seventh-Day Adventist (25%)

Posted by Ith at 4:37 PM | Comments (14)

June 18, 2005

Something Different

I'm always seeing ads for CDs of modern "wosrhip" music (and the ads drive me nuts!). I really do dislike that sort of music, probably in large part due to childhood memories of the church my mum used to be mixed up in. So I was glad to see an ad today for classic old hymns. Hymns I actually sing in church no less. It would be a perfect gift for my mum's upcoming birthday too.

This all reminds me that I need to see if I can rescue a cassette I bought at York Minster of the boy's choir there. I love it, but it's getting warped. With the internet these days, I can probably find it somewhere. I hope. And speaking of 'church music', has anyone else ever listened to the CD An English Ladymass by Anonymous 4? It's one of my favourite recordings.

Posted by Ith at 1:44 PM | Comments (7)

June 14, 2005

Move Over Greece?

Europe's Eastern German Cradle?

While Greece and Italy have so far laid claim to Europe's oldest civilizations, Germany's struggling eastern regions seem set to challenge this.

That's because one of the most complex centers of what's likely Europe's oldest civilization has been discovered in Dresden as archeologists have unearthed traced of the ancient culture across the continent, The Independent newspaper said Saturday.

More than 150 large temples, constructed between 4,800 BC and 4,600 BC, have been unearthed in fields and cities in Germany, Austria and Slovakia, predating the pyramids in Egypt by some 2,000 years, the newspaper revealed.

The German temples weren't quite as sturdy as those in Greece
The network of temples, made of earth and wood, were constructed by a religious people whose economy appears to have been based on livestock farming, the paper reported.

Excavations have taken place over the past three years but the discovery is so new that the civilization has not yet been named.

Monumental vision

The most complex center discovered so far, beneath the city of Dresden in Saxony, eastern Germany, comprises a temple surrounded by four ditches, three earthen banks and two palisades.

"Our excavations have revealed the degree of monumental vision and sophistication used by these early farming communities to create Europe's first truly large scale earthwork complexes," said Harald Stuble from the heritage department of the state of Saxony, where Dresden in located.

The temples, up to 150 meters (164 yards) in diameter, were made by a people who lived in long houses and villages, the newspaper said. Stone, bone, and wooden tools have been unearthed, along with ceramic figures of people and animals.

A village at Aythra, near Leipzig in eastern Germany, was home to some 300 people living in up to 20 large buildings around the temple.

Posted by Ith at 8:51 PM | Comments (1)

June 13, 2005

Gaelic Language Gets Official EU Status

The European Union is saying "Failte!" Welcome! to Gaelic, Ireland's little-used native tongue. But while official status is a boost to those campaigning to save the language from extinction, the move comes with a price: It will require the hiring of an estimated 30 Gaelic speakers at a cost to EU taxpayers of about $4.15 million annually.

Translation costs for the EU's 20 official languages had already been spiraling out of control. In January, officials said the amount was set to pass $1 billion following the entry in 2004 of 10 new EU members chiefly from Eastern Europe.

Critics also say the EU bureaucracy in Brussels, Belgium, has become a Tower of Babel that bogs down decision-making, leading to calls for a drastic reduction in the number of languages used officially.

Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern said the Irish language's new EU status would require legislation to be translated into Gaelic, while live translations in Gaelic would be provided at EU meetings if the Irish speaker requested it in advance.

Ahern said the move would go into effect Jan. 1, 2007, after which any Irish representative could be free to speak Gaelic, rather than Ireland's universally spoken English, at EU ministerial meetings or in the European Parliament.

"It's a real psychological boost for the Irish language," Ahern said in a telephone interview from an EU meeting in Luxembourg.

Ireland had been campaigning for official EU recognition of Gaelic since the first half of 2004, when the Irish held the rotating presidency of the bloc as it expanded from 15 to 25 members and introduced new official languages ranging from Polish to Maltese.

The promotion of Gaelic is widely viewed as a political sacred cow in Ireland, even though elected representatives and officials like the population at large almost exclusively use English. In Ireland's own parliament, less than 2 percent of business is conducted in Gaelic.

The entire article here.

Posted by Ith at 12:22 PM | Comments (2)

June 9, 2005

King Arthur & Then Some!

Awesome post at the Confessing Reader on the movie King Arthur, Pelagius (which, as you recall, was one of the things I found most interesting about the movie), and diocesan boundary crossing. Along the way, he points to an great website called "Early British Kingdoms". I'm in British history geek heaven :)

This is one of my favourite new (to me) blog finds, so check out other posts while you're there.

Posted by Ith at 4:04 PM | Comments (2)

June 5, 2005

The Fall of Constantinople

Good post on the subject here

Posted by Ith at 12:46 PM | Comments (1)

June 3, 2005

Haunted Hotels

Watching tonight's episode on the Travel Channel. I've worked in two haunted hotels myself, and find the subject fascinating. Yes, I had a haunted encounter at one of those hotels. Not to mention a few encounters that weren't work related. I seem to be attuned to the spirit world [shrug] Hey, everyone needs to be good at something!

Posted by Ith at 8:48 PM | Comments (5)

April 8, 2005

The Softer Side

This sort of thing fascinates me. In fact, at our Townhall Meetup earlier in the week, we talked about how DNA is being used this way.

A snippet:

FAR from their marauding, pillaging stereotypes, Viking warriors were homemakers who couldn't wait to ship their wives over to settle the lands they had conquered, new research reveals.

Scientists studying Scots of Viking ancestry in Shetland and Orkney have discovered that there must have been far more Viking women in the Dark Ages settlements than originally thought.

However, it appears that Viking wives refused to go deeper into Scotland, with little evidence they made it as far as the Western Isles.

Researchers from Oxford University took DNA samples from 500 residents of Shetland using a toothbrush to extract some of their saliva. The scientists were able to identify genetic traits in the Scots which they share with modern day Scandinavian populations.

Posted by Ith at 6:17 PM | Comments (2)

April 6, 2005

Welcome To Tartan Day 2005!

(this post will remain at the top most of the day -- scroll down for newer stuff)

Scots, wha hae wi' Wallace bled, Scots, wham Bruce has aften led, Welcome to your gory bed, Or to victorie.

Now's the day, and now's the hour;
See the front o' battle lour;
See approach proud Edward's power,
Chains and slaverie.

Wha would be a traitor-knave?
Wha can fill a coward's grave?
Wha sae base as be a Slave?
Let him turn and flie:

Gathering of the Blogs 2005 the links below will lead you to a wide variety of Scottish themed posts for Tartan Day

Wha for Scotland's king and law, Freedom's sword will strongly draw, Free-man stand, or free-man fa', Let him follow me.

By Oppression's woes and pains!
By your Sons in servile chains!
We will drain our dearest veins,
But they shall be free!

Lay the proud Usurpers low!
Tyrants fall in every foe!
Liberty's in every blow!
Let us Do - or Die!!!

Posted by Ith at 8:01 PM | Comments (2)

A Tartan Day Photo

Posted by Ith at 4:43 PM

For All Things Scottish

You might want to check out my email list, "Celts in Space".

Posted by Ith at 1:29 PM

A Recipe for Freedom

From the start America may have been wrapped in the cloth of red, white and blue, but its inner lining was tartan.

I really liked this particular article, and am sharing the entire thing here.

America and Scotland: peoples linked from the start


ITS TIME for Scotland to swagger like its American cousins. Many of us look up to the United States as the icon of democracy and everything cool and creative. But were it not for Scotland and the hundreds of thousands of its people who planted their feet on its soil, America would have been a much different place a country craving character.

Scotland was more than a pinch of salt when America was being kneaded into a nation many of the main ingredients were derived from the Saltire State. Young and old, man and woman, Scots came to the New World in search of greater freedom and opportunity. They brought with them not only hope and desire, but brains and leadership.

They were a philanthropist and a naturalist. They were leaders in military and political arenas. They put their name to the Declaration of Independence, they pursued religious freedoms, they shared cultural traditions and brought ideas and innovation to bear.

Woodrow Wilson, Americas 28th president and son of a Scottish Presbyterian minister, said it best of his native people: "Every line of strength in American history is a line coloured with Scottish blood." An exaggeration? Perhaps, but not by much.

Wilson is one of 23 US presidents with Scottish extraction. Nearly half of the signers of the Declaration of Independence including Princeton University founder John Witherspoon and Supreme Court associate justice James Wilson - were of Scottish descent. The governors in nine of the original 13 colonies were of Scottish ancestry.

From the start America may have been wrapped in the cloth of red, white and blue, but its inner lining was tartan.

The first Scottish president in America was James Monroe, the great-grandson of a Scots Covenanter who had arrived in the US in chains. Monroe threw the Spanish out of Florida and established the Monroe Doctrine that excluded European powers from the Americas.

In 1927, the head of the American consulate to Scotland addressed members of the Rotary Club in Edinburgh. In his speech, Wilbert Bonney paid tribute to the untold number of Scots immigrants who made contributions to Americas development. Bonneys list of heros and heroines went on and on.

Flora MacDonald, best known for protecting Bonnie Prince Charlie from bounty-hunters after the failed Jacobite Rising, lived in North Carolina for ten years with husband Alexander. She, like many of her fellow Scots, saw the opportunity to begin the world again, anew, in a new corner of it.

Among the many others to make significant contributions in the States were John Muir, creator of the National Parks Service; John Paul Jones, founder of the US Navy; and Alexander Hamilton, a trusted friend of George Washington and Treasury secretary.

The person with Scottish heritage who arguably made the greatest contribution to America was Andrew Carnegie. Making his fortune in steel, the Fife-born Carnegie retired as the worlds richest man before proceeding to become the worlds greatest philanthropist. Adopting the motto "the man who dies rich dies disgraced", he left an indelible mark on a young nation through his generous contributions to foundations, trusts and charities.

In his 1889 book The Gospel of Wealth, Carnegie wrote of his belief in philanthropy and asserted that that all personal wealth beyond that required to supply the needs of one's family should be regarded as a trust fund to be administered for the benefit of the community. He enthusiastically set about his philanthropic endeavours, providing money for over 2,500 libraries throughout the English-speaking world and more than 7,600 pipe organs for churches. He established a variety of trust funds and foundations that still operate to this day. By the time of his death in 1919 he had given away $350 million to good causes.

And these are only some of the names and some of their accomplishments. It would require thousands of words more to convey the impact made by others of Scots descent, whose theories and theorems, decisions and designs helped mould America into what it is today.

Posted by Ith at 1:16 PM

Making It Official

Seems to me that April 6 in Scotland could be like July 4 here.

Drive to put Tartan holiday on calendar

SCOTTISH Nationalists want MSPs to debate calls for Tartan Day to be made a national holiday.

See the rest in the extended entry....

SNP frontbencher Christine Grahame has tabled a motion in the Scottish Parliament proposing that April 6 - the focus of Tartan Week celebrations in the United States to mark the contribution of Scots-Americans- should be formally established as Scotland Day to mark the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath.

She said it was ironic so much effort went into promoting the occasion in the US while it was largely neglected in Scotland.

"We dont make enough of April 6," she said. "The Declaration of Arbroath was a very radical document. It meant the end of the divine right of kings - the monarch could only remain with the consent of the people - and the American Declaration of Independence borrowed much of its thought."

There are events in Scotland next week to mark Tartan Day, centred on Arbroath, including a pipe band procession, a re-enactment of the signing of the Declaration and a gala dinner.

But most of the attention is focused on the other side of the Atlantic, where three ministers from the Scottish Executive will be involved in a series of events, starting today with the Tartan Day parade through New York.

SNP leader Alex Salmond said:

"Sometimes it takes the interest shown elsewhere to remind people how important that document was not just in terms of Scottish history, but its international impact has been very substantial.

"It contained two revolutionary concepts - one was the concept of nationhood, expressed in the phrase community of the realm which made its first appearance in the Arbroath Declaration.

"It was also revolutionary in the context of the right of people, of popular sovereignty, to replace unpopular governments, an argument which resounded through history and was used in the American Declaration of Independence by Thomas Jefferson. I would like to see April 6 as a public holiday in Scotland. I would like to see it as a national day, along with St Andrews Day and, hopefully in time, Scotlands Independence Day."

Independent MSP Dennis Canavan, who is working on a Bill to make St Andrews Day a national holiday, agreed the Declaration of Arbroath was a "defining moment" in Scotlands history and "worth celebrating". But he said St Andrews Day was more internationally recognised.

The STUC has supported calls for St Andrews Day to be made a holiday, but general secretary Bill Speirs said the unions had not taken a view on Tartan Day.

He said: "St Andrews Day has been raised across Scottish civic society and properly discussed. Im not arguing against Tartan Day or Tartan Week in the US, but it has not emerged naturally in Scotland. I would say it was better to focus on St Andrews Day."

An Executive spokesman said there were no plans to declare April 6 a public holiday. "Tartan Day is about promoting Scotland in the US. That is the whole rationale behind Tartan Day and Tartan Week."

Posted by Ith at 11:44 AM


So busy have I been putting together all the Tartan Day stuff, I never got around to writing a post of my own. Here's my Tartan Day post from last year instead. I was rather fond of it at the time, so here's a repeat :)

A Memory I Never Had

I'm probably more English than I am Scottish, but I've always identified strongly with my Scots heritage. Maybe it's because of my maternal grandmother, Amy Marie. She was born in Scotland, and she and her parents left Aberdeen when she was a teenager, first settling in Diamondville Wyoming, before moving to Smithers, B.C. where my great-grandmother had family. According to my mum's older sister, I look enough like her to be her twin -- right down to the green eyes that no one else in the family has. Amy loved to dance, music, cats, & horses. Or so I'm told. You see, I only know my grandmother through vague descriptions and stories because she died when my mum was two, after a long illness, probably tuberculoses. I've now been alive more years than my grandmother was given, and still, I wonder what she was really like. I've never even seen a picture of her, but I think I can see her in my imagination sometimes. And when I think of Scotland, I remember my grandmother, Amy Marie Smith Heal.

Posted by Ith at 10:56 AM

Plaid It Again, Uncle Sam

This is the end of a much longer article.

.... Before home-based Scots leap in to tick off over-zealous American Scots, we need to ask ourselves whether we could actually learn something from their transparent devotion to all things Scottish.

See the extended entry for the rest....

It was a question I asked myself at the end of November last year when I was invited to speak at a St Andrews Night Dinner in Chicago which had been organised by the Illinois St Andrews Society. Every man there was dressed in a kilt, itself not without risk in the Windy City, and we all enjoyed a traditional Scottish meal followed by speeches. Then, without warning, two pipers appeared and led in a tea trolley, pushed by four burly men. On the back of the tea-trolley was a large tartan teacosy. When the trolley appeared at the front of the stage, the teacosy stirred and a tiny girl emerged. She was wearing a tartan pinafore, had plaid ribbons in her hair and waved at the applauding crowd with the aplomb of a movie star. "Shes this years Haggis Lassie," one of the ladies at my table explained. "Its traditional."

The Haggis Lassie and the mobile Scottish castle are just two of the ways in which Americans are joyfully recreating Scottish traditions. But if the ways in which American Scots celebrate Scotland can seem a little unusual to Scottish eyes, the sincerity with which they do it isnt in doubt. "Ive seen hardened Vietnam veterans cry when they receive their clan tartan for the first time," says social anthropologist Celeste Ray who has studied American Scottish culture. And at Harvard University, sociologist Mary Waters has accumulated evidence which proves how popular Scottish identity has become in the US. Since the publication of Alex Haileys Roots in 1976, the hunger which Americans feel to find out about their backgrounds has grown and grown. At the end of the 1980s, a question was added to the American census which for the first time sought information about ethnic background.

When she first conducted her research 20 years ago, Waters found that Scottish identity was the least popular white ethnic identity in America. "Scots were thought to be mean, bad tempered and unfriendly," she says. "Now Scots are the most popular white ethnic identity of all." If one man is responsible for this turn-around in Scottish popularity, it is Randall Wallace, creator of Braveheart, the man who was announced this year as Grand Marshall of the Tartan Day parade in New York.

In the world of the American Scots, Randall Wallace is a demi-god and William Wallace a full-blown deity. Wallace recounts how everywhere he goes he is told how the film has boosted membership of Scottish American societies ten-fold.

To Randall Wallace, his illustrious ancestor is a fully fledged Scottish hero and, thanks to Wallaces film, the blue-and-white-painted freedom fighter has become a hero to Tamil Nationalists and oppressed Peruvian peasants.

When I watched Wallace speak at a dinner for American Scots, it became all too clear how much Bravehearts story meant to him. He told a story about taking his father to Stirling and listening to a piper play the bagpipes from the ramparts of Stirling Castle. In the middle of the story, Wallace began to cry. For a full two minutes, he struggled to regain his composure, as the American Scots sat on the edge of their seats. At my table a native-born Scot who had recently relocated to Chicago rolled his eyes: "You wouldnt get away with this in Glasgow."

He was absolutely right. Its hard to imagine a greater contrast than that between the colourful, innocent patriotism of Scottish Americans and the glum attitudes of modern, civic, devolutionary Scotland. But, as Tartan day rolls around again, and we all take a grim pleasure in sending up the attitudes of our North American cousins, its time to ask whether we could all be a bit more relaxed about our cultural traditions, and whether we should all put in a little homework in our garages. After all, there are plenty of castles out there crying out to be taken on the road.

Posted by Ith at 9:37 AM

I Found This Interesting

The majority of new immigrants to Scotland are from here in the States. Sort of reverse migrations or something!

American influx can't stem Scotland's population slide

MORE immigrants come to Scotland from the United States than any other overseas country, a new study revealed today.

Americans accounted for ten per cent of the overseas immigrants identified north of the Border.

About one-third of people who move to Scotland settle in Edinburgh and the Lothians, according to census figures.

Posted by Ith at 9:23 AM

In The Movies

SCOTLAND'S natural surroundings attract many thousands of tourists each year. Mountains, valleys and lochs abound. What gave popularity to many of these destinations is their place in film. From Rob Roy to Harry Potter, the Saltire State has played a leading role in many motion pictures. Here's a look at our top five movie locations in Scotland.
Posted by Ith at 9:19 AM

Tartan Day Question

So who's decked out in plaid today? I'm wearing a green plaid silk shirt and some of my Celtic jewelery. And anyone else going out tonight? I had a meeting scheduled, but it was scheduled in a pub, so guess what we're doing?!

Posted by Ith at 8:37 AM | Comments (1)

April 5, 2005

Last Call!

If you want to be included in the "Tartan Day - Gathering of the Blogs" blogroll, please tell me so in the comments of this post. I need an email address and URL so I can add you to the mailing list. That way, when I email out the final blogroll, you will receive a copy for your blog. I'll be adding people tonight, and I may add any real-late comers in the morning -- if I have time before work.

You can leave your email address and link here, mail it to me directly -- edithna AT yahoo DOT com, or add yourself to the mailing list here, following the directions.

It's going to be fun!

Posted by Ith at 6:47 PM | Comments (1)

Scots Stereotype

Found this excellent piece while searching for lyrics: The Scots: Stereotype and Reality

The whole website is full of interesting things, so go explore while you're at it!

A Gathering 2005 post

Posted by Ith at 5:40 PM

The Miracles of St. Columba

I've always had a fondness for St. Columba, and hope one day to be able to visit Iona. You can find many stories of the miracles and prophecies of Columba here, but this has long been one of my favourites.

How an Aquatic Monster was driven off by virtue of the blessed man's prayer.

ON another occasion also, when the blessed man was living for some days in the province of the Picts, he was obliged to cross the river Nesa (the Ness); and when he reached the bank of the river, he saw some of the inhabitants burying an unfortunate man, who, according to the account of those who were burying him, was a short time before seized, as he was swimming, and bitten most severely by a monster that lived in the water; his wretched body was, though too late, taken out with a hook, by those who came to his assistance in a boat. The blessed man, on hearing this, was so far from being dismayed, that he directed one of his companions to swim over and row across the coble that was moored at the farther bank. And Lugne Mocumin hearing the command of the excellent man, obeyed without the least delay, taking off all his clothes, except his tunic, and leaping into the water. But the monster, which, so far from being satiated, was only roused for more prey, was lying at the bottom of the stream, and when it felt the water disturbed above by the man swimming, suddenly rushed out, and, giving an awful roar, darted after him, with its mouth wide open, as the man swam in the middle of the stream. Then the blessed man observing this, raised his holy hand, while all the rest, brethren as well as strangers, were stupefied with terror, and, invoking the name of God, formed the saving sign of the cross in the air, and commanded the ferocious monster, saying, "Thou shalt go no further, nor touch the man; go back with all speed." Then at the voice of the saint, the monster was terrified, and fled more quickly than if it had been pulled back with ropes, though it had just got so near to Lugne, as he swam, that there was not more than the length of a spear-staff between the man and the beast. Then the brethren seeing that the monster had gone back, and that their comrade Lugne returned to them in the boat safe and sound, were struck with admiration, and gave glory to God in the blessed man. And even the barbarous heathens, who were present, were forced by the greatness of this miracle, which they themselves had seen, to magnify the God of the Christians.

A Gathering 2005 post

Posted by Ith at 11:54 AM

St Cuthbert the Wonder-worker

The Life of St Cuthbert

Cuthbert was born in 635 near Melrose in Scotland of humble parentage. As a boy, he tended sheep on the hills in that area. In the year 651, while watching his sheep, he saw a vision. St Bede in his Life and Miracles of St Cuthbert, Bishop of Lindisfarne describes what Cuthbert observed thus:

"On a sudden he saw a long stream of light break through the darkness of the night, and in the midst of it a company of the heavenly host descended to the earth, and having received among them a spirit of surpassing brightness, returned without delay to their heavenly home."

Next morning, he found that St Aidan - founder of the Priory of Lindisfarne and a man of great holiness - had died at the very moment of his vision. At this point, so St Bede claims, Cuthbert gave up being a shepherd and decided to enter the Celtic monastery of Melrose in order to train as a monk. There he soon became known for his piety and learning. In due course, he went to Ripon to help found the monastery there. Expelled when he refused to accept the Roman monastic traditions urged upon him, Cuthbert returned to Melrose where he was appointed Prior in 661.

In 664, the Synod of Whitby decided in favour of the Roman monastic traditions. Cuthbert accepted that decision. He was then appointed Prior of the great monastery of Lindisfarne, in order that he might introduce the monastic changes to that house. The fact that he himself had been trained in the Celtic tradition and was now conforming to the new order helped him to persuade the monks at Lindisfarne to accept the change themselves. Cuthbert remained Prior a Lindisfarne until 676, when he retired to the nearby island of Inner Farne in order to live the life of a hermit.

Here Cuthbert spent his time in prayer and contemplation having only the seals and sea birds for company. However, he reluctantly agreed to accept appointment as Bishop of Lindisfarne in 685. Despite this reluctance, he threw himself energetically into his new role travelling widely and converting people to the Christian faith. Two years later, though, he retired from the post of Bishop and returned to his island hermitage where he died in 687. Cuthbert's body was carried back to Lindisfarne and buried there, in accordance with his wishes.

A Gathering 2005 post

Posted by Ith at 10:45 AM

A Myth?

Historian throws down gauntlet on 'Clearances myth'

THE AUTHOR of a controversial new book that promises to expose the Highland Clearances as a myth last night challenged his critics to a public debate to expose "lazy and emotional versions of Scottish history" that always blamed the landlords.

Michael Fry, author of Wild Scots, Four Hundred Years of Highland History, has angered politicians and historians by saying that claims of mass evictions from the Highlands in the 18th and 19th centuries were greatly exaggerated and ignored the desire of people to leave their poverty-stricken homeland to improve themselves.

Critics included the Labour MP Brian Wilson, who described Mr Fry as a buffoon the "David Irving of the Clearances", a reference to the historian who has played down the number of people killed by the Nazis in the Holocaust.

Professor Tom Devine, of Aberdeen University and author of The Scottish Nation, said Mr Frys comments could provoke a war of words that could make discussions on sectarianism seem tame.

Excerpts from Mr Frys book, due to be published in July, focus on the most notorious episodes of the era. These include Mr Frys assertion that the Duke of Sutherland moved tenants from their inland homes to the coast to give them new livelihoods in new industries on a par with the post-war Labour government moving people to East Kilbride.

He argues that since the population of Sutherland rose between 1801 and 1831, the Clearances could "not have been all that ruthless".


James Hunter, professor of history at the University of the Highlands and Islands Millennium Institute, whose new book, Scottish Exodus, examines the Highland diaspora, said Mr Fry was "playing with words" and ignoring the responsibility of historians to honour those who had endured trauma and suffering.

Prof Hunter said: "The truth lies somewhere in between the two extremes that horrible, brutal landlords evicted the Highland population and Mr Frys views that no-one was evicted.

"The situation was complicated and people left or were put off the land for different reasons at various times."

A Gathering 2005 post

Posted by Ith at 9:45 AM

Ghost Fest

Now this would be nifty to attend! I've been on many ghost walks in the U.K., and one of them was in Edinburgh. Really creepy stuff! Especially the bit mentioned at the end of the article where they blocked up an area with plague victims. I think it's safe to assume Nin would be all over the whisky tasting!

A snippet:

A NEW ghoulish coach tour of the Capital is to be one of the highlights of the UKs first ghost festival.

Organisers are promising a trip around "the killing fields" of the city during the Ghost Bus Tour of some of the Capitals supernatural hotspots.

The Royal Mile, New Town, Princes Street, Lothian Road, Tollcross, the Grassmarket, Abbeyhill and the Canongate will all feature.

The Mercat Tour Company will be joining forces with coach firm Rabbies for the 90-minute tours, part of an extensive programme of events organised by the Real Mary Kings Close visitor attraction.

An overnight vigil in Edinburghs underground vaults, parapsychology experiments, film screenings and a psychic fair are all being planned for Ghost Fest.

Other events in the festival include a spooky procession down the Royal Mile, nights of whisky tastings from Scotlands haunted distilleries, a horror film quiz and tarot readings.

A Gathering 2005 post

Posted by Ith at 8:28 AM

April 4, 2005

The Kick Off

.... The launch of the Scottish village on Saturday was followed by the annual parade up Sixth Avenue, where marchers were led by "grand marshal" Randall Wallace, an American of Scots descent who wrote the screenplay for the blockbuster film Braveheart.

Mr Wallace said he was exhilarated to be "walking through one of the greatest cities in the world" and paid tribute to Scots in North America. "Through their intelligence, innovation, passion and enthusiasm they have helped make America what it is today," he said.

Speaking at Saturday's launch, VisitScotland chairman Peter Lederer said: "Scotland is small, but it has a global reach and a global brand.

"It has cultural icons most countries can only dream of, wonderful food and drink and modern dynamic cities. It has one of the best education systems in the world and is a great place to do business."

The entire article here.

Posted by Ith at 1:16 PM | Comments (2)

Two Days

The Gathering 2005 is fast approaching and there's still time for you to join us! We have 24 blogs participating so far. I'd love to make it at least as many as last year. Now, last year, people said there wasn't enough notice given. That can't be said this year! So come on, what are you waiting for?

Posted by Ith at 10:37 AM

April 1, 2005

The "Toast of Tartan Week"

Scotland's village people aim to be the toast of Tartan Week

A NEW 1million weapon in the fight to boost Scotland's tourism income was due to be unveiled by ministers today at the start of the annual Tartan Week celebrations in New York.

The Scottish Village - a purpose-built travelling pavilion featuring exhibitions and displays on holiday ideas and visitor attractions - will make its debut in Grand Central Station in a bid to persuade some of the half a million commuters who pass through the concourse every week that Scotland is "the best small country in the world".

The "village", to be launched by tourism minister Patricia Ferguson ahead of today's annual Tartan Week parade up the city's Sixth Avenue, will also be taken to events such as the G8 summit in Gleneagles.

It includes live Scottish cooking demonstrations, fashion shows and an onsite genealogist, accompanied by music from ceilidh bands the Peatbog Faeries and Shooglenifty.

This week's celebrations in New York are set to be more muted than last year, when Jack McConnell attracted curiosity in the United States and ridicule at home when he attended the Dressed to Kilt fashion show in a modern pin-striped kilt.

Neither the First Minister nor any of the main party leaders are attending, blaming the proximity of a general election. Ms Ferguson is instead accompanied by finance minister Tom McCabe and health minister Andy Kerr who will take part in a Central Park fun run tomorrow morning to promote Scotland as a healthy, smoke-free visitor destination.

Tuesday's Icons of Scotland dinner is rarely attended by celebrity award winners, but designers such as cashmere queen Belinda Robertson and kilt promoter Howie Nicholsby are among likely guests at Wednesday's Dressed to Kilt event at the Copacabana Club.

The event will also be attended by rugby legend Scott Hastings, actor Brian Cox, singer Darius and chef Nick Nairn and will feature pieces by a range of Scottish designers including Edinburgh milliner Yvette Jelfs. Sir Sean Connery is expected at the celebrations, but his attendance had still to be confirmed last night.

Peter Lederer, chairman of VisitScotland, said: "The Scottish village is a fantastic showcase, the first of its kind in the world. It will give New Yorkers a taste of Scottish life and culture, and encourage them to see Scotland for themselves."

Ms Ferguson said: "This year's Tartan Week programme is our most ambitious ever."

For the blog side of Tartan Day, there's Gathering of the Blogs 2005.

Posted by Ith at 6:47 PM

January 25, 2005

Raise Your Glass

A little late getting to this post, but better late than never!

Today is Robert Burns' birthday. As I believe I've mentioned before, one of my favourites of his works is "Ae Fond Kiss".

Ae Fond Kiss

Ae fond kiss, and then we sever
Ae fareweel, and then for ever!
Deep in heart-wrung tears I'll pledge thee
Warring sighs and groans I'll wage thee
Who shall say that Fortune grieves him
While the star of hope she leaves him?
Me, nae cheerful twinkle lights me
Dark despair around benights me

I'll ne'er blame my partial fancy
Naething could resist my Nancy
But to see her was to love her
Love but her, and love for ever
Had we never lov'd sae kindly
Had we never lov'd sae blindly
Never met or never parted
We had ne'er been broken-hearted

Fare-thee-weel, thou first and fairest!
Fare-thee-weel, thou best and dearest!
Thine be ilka, joy and treasure
Peace, Enjoyment, Love, and Pleasure!
Ae fond kiss, and then we sever!
Ae fareweel, alas, for ever!
Deep in heart-wrung tears I'll pledge thee
Warring sighs and groans I'll wage thee

It suits my personality, I'm guessing :)

And for an actual good post on the day (as opposed to my paltry offering), I direct you here.

Posted by Ith at 12:59 PM | Comments (2)

October 25, 2004

Looking For Ideas

Hi folks, CrankyBeach here, sneaking aboard in Ith's absence. I don't dare post this on my own blog 'cause the victim --er, birthday boy-- reads mine. (At least, he BETTER be reading it!)

Anybody has any ideas, you can post them in the comments here, OR feel free to e-mail me privately at crankybeach-blogmail at mailblocks dot com.

Okay, here's the deal. There's this guy. (How many stories have you ever heard that started that way?) He badly needs to be tortured (hee hee hee) but that's another story. His 50th birthday is coming up, as is my forty-harumph. Our birthdays are only 2 weeks apart, and we agreed to celebrate them together. I told him I was planning something "diabolical" for his birthday, and hoped he was planning something equally diabolical for mine.

Now I just have to come up with something, well, diabolical!

Put on your thinking caps, friends and neighbors, and help me out here. The celebration will probably involve something like dinner and a movie (in public) so the diabolical part will have to happen not so publicly. (Hey, this guy has some standing in the community, and I don't want to completely blow his reputation, or what's left of mine!)

Any and all suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

Posted by CrankyBeach at 3:13 PM | Comments (5)

September 10, 2004

Anyone Else...

thinking about the "Hitler Diaries" forgery back in the 80's?

Posted by Ith at 12:06 PM

August 31, 2004

I Sit Beside The Fire...

I received an email this morning on the qoute over on the sidebar. Since I'm tickled somone liked it enough to email me (thanks, Patrick!) I thought I'd post the entire poem here today. I've always loved the sentiment in thse words of Tolkien's. There are dozens of quotes from the books that speak to me, but this one has always had a special place in my heart.


I sit beside the fire and think Of all that I have seen, Of meadow-flowers and butterflies In summers that have been;

Of yellow leaves and gossamer
In autumns that there were,
With morning mist and silver sun
And wind upon my hair.

I sit beside the fire and think
Of how the world will be
When winter comes without a spring
That I shall ever see.

For still there are so many things
That I have never seen:
In every wood in every spring
There is a different green.

I sit beside the fire and think
Of people long ago,
And people who will see a world
That I shall never know.

And while I think
Of times that have come before,
I listen for returning feet
And voices at the door.

J.R.R. Tolkien

Posted by Ith at 8:30 AM | Comments (3)

August 23, 2004

And Now For Some Fun

In the ongoing effort not to disappoint Ith's regular readers... some utter silliness for y'all. This one is courtesy of Strange Cosmos.

Ten Suggestions for a Sensitive War on Terror

10. Stop calling it a "war." Rename it to the "Protest Against Terror." Protests always get people's attention and let them know that what you're protesting against is wrong.

9. Use softer bullets. Metal bullets hurt the terrorists, and that makes them hate us more.

8. Perhaps President Kerry can invite Osama bin Laden to the White House for a "cuddling party" with Kerry/Edwards. Nothing makes friends faster than a good cuddle.

7. Only go to war if the French and the UN say it's okay. Everyone knows how skillful the French are at dealing with other nations, and the UN has proven time and again its efficacy in dealing with terrorists.

6. Pull the troops out of Iraq within six months, but stay the course and even send more troops. If you have to ask, it's too nuanced for you.

5. Gently but firmly remind the terrorists that he was in Vietnam for four months thirty-five years ago. They won't dare pull anything then.

4. Ensure government owned and operated health care for all Americans, paid for with higher taxes. Terrorists won't bother to attack if they know all Americans have health care; it won't do any good then.

3. Stop eating pork and cover the women. Don't let them read or vote. That will show the terrorists that we understand them and appreciate their culture.

2. Don't call them "terrorists." They feel bad enough about our bullying, abusive foreign policy as it is. Call them "armed peace demonstrators." They'll feel more... peaceful.

1. Don't send soldiers; send social workers. All they really need is love and understanding.
Posted by CrankyBeach at 3:16 PM | Comments (2)

August 9, 2004

Skeleton Discovered At Minehowe

There will be an article on it here later today or tomorrow, but the upshot is...

Archaeologists returned to Minehowe for a fourth season last week. Returning to the site of an Iron Age metalworking structure outside the ditch surrounding the underground chamber itself, they have begun to unearth the remains of a complete skeleton.

The burial took place well after the building was constructed and saw a
grave being dug in the floor of the "workshop" and the body interred. After
the grave was covered over the work continued in the structure as normal.

It's early days yet. Only the pelvis, lower backbone, legs and segments of
the arms were visible today, so the sex and age of the deceased is not yet
known. However, given the scarcity of Iron Age burials in Scotland, let
alone Orkney, the archeologists are very exciting.

Very kewl!

Posted by Ith at 5:16 PM

July 28, 2004

Traprain Law

Iron Age 'nerve centre' uncovered on hill

EXCAVATIONS at a large hill fort in East Lothian have uncovered what archaeologists believe to be one of the nerve centres of Iron Age Scotland.

The new findings at Traprain Law, near Haddington, include the first coal jewellery workshop unearthed in Scotland as well as hundreds of artefacts giving new insight into life in the 700BC-AD43 era.

Experts who have been working on the site for several weeks are now able to paint a picture of a densely populated hilltop town which was home to leaders of local tribes, following the discovery of multiple ramparts, Roman pottery, gaming pieces, tools and beads.

At the centre of the archaeological site, which is one of the most important in Scotland, a medieval building, first uncovered by a fire in 1996, has now been fully excavated by the 20-strong team of archaeologists, also showing the area was occupied hundreds of years later.

The ten metre-long building is understood to have been built during the 14th century to supply pilgrims visiting the hill because of its traditional connections with St Mungo, whose mother was thought to have been banished from the hill by her father, the mythical King Loth, when she became pregnant.

St Mungo brought Christianity to the west of Scotland.

The whole article here.

Posted by Ith at 5:09 PM

July 12, 2004

The Cutting Edge

Interesting article about the history of samurai swords and the stories behind some being displayed at a museum exhibit.

And related to the museum is the "Taste of Japan Summer Splash". You'll find a section on Charles Wirgman, and on the old Tokaido highway.

Posted by Ith at 5:36 PM

June 30, 2004

An American Skara Brae?

Rancher sells archaelogical site to government

An excerpt:

For more than 50 years, rancher Waldo Wilcox kept most outsiders off his land and the secret under wraps: a string of ancient settlements thousands of years old in near perfect condition.

Hidden deep inside eastern Utah's nearly inaccessible Book Cliffs region, 130 miles southeast of Salt Lake City, the prehistoric villages run for 12 miles along Range Creek, where Wilcox guarded hundreds of rock art panels, cliffside granaries, pit houses and rock shelters, some exposing mummified remains of long-ago inhabitants.

The sites were occupied for at least 3,000 years until they were abandoned more than 1,000 years ago, when the Fremont people mysteriously vanished. The Fremont, a collection of hunter-gatherers and farmers, preceded more modern American Indian tribes on the Colorado Plateau.

What sets this ancient site apart from other, better-known ones in Utah, Arizona or Colorado is that it's been left virtually untouched, with arrowheads and pottery shards still covering the ground in places.

"I didn't let people go in there to destroy it," said Wilcox, 74, whose parents bought the ranch in 1951 and threw up a gate to the rugged canyon. "The less people know about this, the better."

But the secret is out after federal and state governments paid Wilcox $2.5 million for the 4,200-acre ranch, which is surrounded by wilderness study lands. The state took ownership earlier this year but hasn't decided yet how to control public access, said Kevin Conway, director of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.

State archaeologist Kevin Jones said the site escaped looters to showcase a glimpse of ancient life only now being catalogued by the Utah Museum of Natural History.

"It's a national treasure. There may not be another place like it in the continental 48 states," Museum curator Duncan Metcalfe said Thursday by satellite phone from the site.

Posted by Ith at 5:18 PM

June 24, 2004

Rebels and Redcoats

Has anyone else been watching "Rebels and Redcoats: How Britain Lost America" on PBS? I saw the first part last night and found it quite interesting. It's done by a British military historian and presents a Brit POV of the Revolution. Check it out if it airs in your area.

Posted by Ith at 10:31 AM | Comments (3)

June 21, 2004

The Battle For Arthur

Clans touch swords in battle to crown Arthur as their own

HIS STORY has inspired everyone from the knights of medieval times to Hollywood film directors, but the true identity of King Arthur has remained stubbornly lost in the mists of time.

But, as Arthur fever rears its head with a major new film starring Clive Owen and Keira Knightley, out next month, two Scottish clans have emerged as challengers to those in Wales and Cornwall who claim the model of chivalry as their own.

While the knights of the round table, the lady in the lake, sword in the stone and the search for the Holy Grail have passed into British national identity, no-one truly knows who Arthur was.

However, historians at Clan Arthur believe they are the descendants of a chieftain who fits the bill better than anyone else and are now claiming him to be "Oor Arthur".

But the McArthurs face competition from Clan Campbell, which has traditionally claimed to be descended from Artur Mac Aeden, the son of a Scottish king and a Welsh-speaking Briton from the ancient kingdom of Strathclyde.

Clan historian Hugh McArthur said it would be a good time to publicise the Scottish Arthur story.

"The Duchy of Cornwall makes a lot of money out of the Arthurian legend with very little evidence," he said.

Posted by Ith at 5:07 PM | Comments (2)

June 16, 2004

Brodgar Neolithic Village

Exploratory dig confirms existence of Brodgar Neolithic village

Centuries-old conceptions about the Ness of Brodgar - the thin strip of land between the Harray and Stenness lochs - look set to be turned on their heads following a series of exploratory excavations on the south-west of the ness.

Last year's discovery of a structure half-way between the Ring of Brodgar and the Standing Stones of Stenness gave the first hint that ideas were going to have to change.

A domestic settlement in an area thought to be solely the domain of ritualistic and funerary monuments was a clear sign that certain long-held notions about the Brodgar peninsula needed to be looked at again.

The structure's discovery, together with a series of extensive geophysics scans of the World Heritage Site area, was beginning to indicate the sheer extent of prehistoric human activity on the Ness of Brodgar - and perhaps, most intriguingly, that this activity wasn't entirely based around the ceremonial rings.

But even the geophysics results couldn't prepare the archaeologists for what they found after digging a number of small exploratory trenches around the site of the "Brodgar New Hoose" - in particular that the area around Lochview could be still house an extremely well-preserved Neolithic village.

Absolutely fascinating stuff here, so go read it all!

(have I mentioned lately how much I want to back to Orkney?)

Posted by Ith at 3:02 PM | Comments (3)

May 30, 2004


The Old Faithful Inn turns 100 this June.

It has survived fire, earthquake, and visits by thousands of tourists. But a century after the Old Faithful Inn first opened, this Yellowstone landmark remains as much of an awe-inducing spectacle as the namesake geyser that erupts reliably just outside its windows.

I'm a big fan of old hotels, and this one is tops in my book. If you ever have the opportunity to stay at the Old Faithful, take it. You won't regret it.

Posted by Ith at 11:29 PM | Comments (1)

May 18, 2004

Unearthing T. rex

An interactive T. rex dig.

Posted by Ith at 6:04 PM

The Mind In The Cave

There was a review for this book in my latest Megalitihic Portal e-letter. It came highly reccomended and I think I'm going to have to add it to my wish list! I love petroglyphs, cave art, etc. and this book looks like it would be quite interesting.

Posted by Ith at 4:32 PM

May 17, 2004

Genes To Kilts

Now this is absolutely fascinating and one of those things that I'd wondered about happening eventually.

FOR years, kiltmakers have sold tartan to tourists with uncertain Scottish connections after making questionable decisions about the clan to which they belong.

But now scientists are mapping the genetic profiles of the different Scottish clans to allow those trying to trace their ancestry to discover whether their heart is Highland or actually belongs to Paisley.

A new company, called Crucial Genetics, which was set up by scientists from Glasgow University, has started building up a database of clan genes and is working with several clan societies.

Posted by Ith at 6:59 PM | Comments (3)

April 15, 2004

A Little Bit Of Beauty

New pics up at Orkneyjar:

The Moon and the Standing Stones o' Stenness

Sunset at the Standing Stones o' Stenness

Posted by Ith at 2:22 PM

April 8, 2004

Let's Hear It For The Locals

Yep, another Scottish post. (Hey, I read "The Scotsman" every morning)

One of my favourite things to do in Scotland is finding music I can't get here at home. Scottish music these days is so varied, there's something for every mood. There was a wonderful music center in Inverness, which I've heard has closed down, that had a shop and a cafe as part of the center. That's where I discovered the sublime Connie Dover. (Though it turns out she's actually from MO) When we were on Lewis, I let the clerk in the local record shop pick out a half dozen CDs for me after telling him what groups I liked. I ended up with some great music!

So, this article is good news for me. One, I think it's cool they're promoting local music in Scotland, and two it lists a few bands I've never heard of, so I have somthing new to check out!

.... A campaign was being launched today to persuade licensed premises to either play more CDs by home-grown acts or bring in performers to play live.

Tourism chiefs, brewers, licensed trade leaders and record companies are behind the drive, aimed at boosting foreign visitors experience and promoting up-and-coming acts.

Free CDs are being offered to licensed premises in the hope that they will play music by the likes of Capercaillie, Shooglenifty, Martyn Bennett and Salsa Celtica, instead of Scottish-themed "lift music", or karaoke favourites by the likes of Frank Sinatra and Abba. The campaign, which Edinburgh and Lothians Tourist Board has thrown its weight behind, will also see specially- programmed live music sessions staged across the country over the summer, the creation of a dedicated website, and co-ordinated promotion of Scotlands numerous traditional music festivals.

Posted by Ith at 8:42 AM

April 6, 2004

Listing In The Gloaming

As I sit here with my cup of tea -- Scottish Breakfast Blend -- I'm pndering what sort of post to do for Tartan Day. I've been doing Scots themed post for several days, so I need something fresh. So I'm going to do a list. A list of things Scottish that I'm fond of. I'll add to it through the day. As always, you're welcome to add your own fond things in the comments.

The awesome food I had at the Flodigarry Hotel on Skye (and you must stay there if you ever visit!) (I can't wait to go back some day)
Baked goods

Tain Silver
Ola Gorie
Leather Goods

Local Hero

Isle of Skye
Isle of Lewis
Galson Farm, Isle of Lewis (This is where my brother and I stayed. Wonderful!!)
Western Isles

Silly Wizard
Connie Dover
Natalie MacMaster
Alex Beaton
Karen Matheson
Alisdair Fraser

Scottish Country Dances
Reel of the Royal Scots
Flowers of Edinburgh
FizzBin (waves to Carolyn)
Black Mountain Reel
The New Rigged Ship

Posted by Ith at 9:00 AM | Comments (5)

April 5, 2004

Not For Glory, Nor Riches

Tartan Day is on April 6 because it is the date the Declaration of Arbroath was drawn up in 1320. This was the Scottish Declaration of Independence.

Although the English armies under Edward II were routed at Bannockburn in 1314 and by 1319, with the recapture of Berwick, effectively expelled from Scottish soil, they continued to mount attacks into Robert the Bruce's Scotland over the succeeding years.

The Pope had not accepted Scottish independence, perhaps partially because Robert the Bruce had been excommunicated for killing John Comyn in a church in Dumfries in 1306 (Comyn had formed an alliance with Edward, but perhaps had more of a right to be King than Bruce).

Thus the Declaration of Arbroath was prepared as a formal Declaration of Independence. It was drawn up in Arbroath Abbey on the 6th April 1320, most likely by the Abbot, Bernard de Linton, who was also the Chancellor of Scotland.

Here's a small excerpt:

Yet if he should give up what he has begun, and agree to make us or our kingdom subject to the King of England or the English, we should exert ourselves at once to drive him out as our enemy and a subverter of his own rights and ours, and make some other man who was well able to defend us our King; for, as long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be brought under English rule. It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom -- for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself.
(emphasis mine)
Posted by Ith at 5:45 PM | Comments (2)

18 & Counting

We're up to 18 bonnie bloggers taking part in "Gathering of the Blogs"


There's still plenty of time to join in the revelry. (whether it's drunken or not remains to be seen)

Posted by Ith at 1:38 PM

Cruel Is The Snow

Another favourite song in the depressing vein, The Massacre of Glencoe

Oh, cruel is the snow that sweeps Glencoe
And covers the grave o' Donald;
Oh, cruel was the foe that raped Glencoe
And murdered the house of MacDonald.

And this song comes with a current news story.

"On a cold, dark morning in February 1692, the snow-covered valley of Glencoe was stained with blood as the small Clan MacDonald of Glencoe was butchered by the Campbells under the order of the sovereign.

Now more than 300 years after the Massacre of Glencoe, two houses that are intrinsically connected with the event have come onto the market.

Invercoe House, originally the main house of the Glencoe estate and within the boundaries of which the massacre of Glencoe took place, is being offered by FPDSavills for offers over 250,000."

They came in the blizzard, we offered them heat, A roof for their heads, dry shoes for their feet; We wined them and dined them, they ate of our meat, And they slept in the house of MacDonald

They came from Fort William wi murder in mind;
The Campbell had orders King William had signed;
"Put all to the sword," these words underlined,
"And leave none alive called MacDonald."

They came in the night when the men were asleep,
This band of Argyles, through snow soft and deep;
Like murdering foxes amongst helpless sheep,
They slaughtered the house of MacDonald.

Some died in their beds at the hand o the foe;
Some fled in the night and were lost in the snow;
Some lived to accuse him wha struck the first blow,
But gone was the house of MacDonald.

(if you'd like to participate in Tartan Day 2004, Gathering of the Blogs, you can find out how here.)

Posted by Ith at 9:28 AM

April 4, 2004

Loch Tay Boat Song

To keep with the Scottish theme of the last few days....

I love sad Scottish songs, and this is one of my favourites:

Loch Tay Boat Song

When I've done my work of day,
And I row my boat away
Doon the waters of Loch Tay
As the evening light is fading
And I look upon Ben Lawers
Where the after glory glows
And I think on two bright eyes
And the melting mouth below.

She's my beauteous nighean ruadh,
She's my joy and sorrow too
And although she is untrue,
Well I cannot live without her
For my heart's a boat in tow
And I'd give the world to know
Why she means to let me go
As I sing horee horo.

Nighean ruadh, your lovely hair
Has more glamour I declare
Than all the tresses rare
'tween Killin and Aberfeldy
Be they lint white, brown or gold,
Be they blacker than the sloe
They are worth no more to me
Than the melting flake of snow.

Her eyes are like the gleam
O' the sunlight on the stream
And the songs the fairies sing
Seem like songs she sings at milking
But my heart is full of woe,
For last night she bade me go
And the tears begin to flow,
As I sing horee, horo.

She's my beauteous nighean ruadh,
She's my joy and sorrow too
And although she is untrue,
Well I cannot live without her
For my heart's a boat in tow
And I'd give the world to know
Why she means to let me go
As I sing horee horo.

One of my favourite versions is by Silly Wizard (one of the best Scots bands to ever play) (you can't go wrong with any of their albums)

Posted by Ith at 7:38 PM | Comments (2)

March 25, 2004


This is nifty:

A NEW report has supported setting up a dedicated Gaelic television channel and making Gaelic medium education available where the language is spoken.

It has also backed efforts to protect and promote the use of Scots in everyday life.

I heard Gaelic spoken when I was on the Isle of Lewis, and listened to Gaelic radio several times on my last trip. I would love to leanr how to speak it.

Posted by Ith at 10:22 AM | Comments (2)

March 11, 2004

A Little More Eye Opening History

A million Europeans were enslaved between 1530 and 1780, according to a new book, Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters : White Slavery in the Mediterranean, the Barbary Coast and Italy, 1500-1800 by historian Robert Davis.

"One of the things that both the public and many scholars have tended to take as given is that slavery was always racial in nature that only blacks have been slaves. But that is not true," said Mr. Davis, an Ohio State University professor.

"Enslavement was a very real possibility for anyone who traveled in the Mediterranean, or who lived along the shores in places like Italy, France, Spain and Portugal, and even as far north as England and Iceland."

And let's remember that slavery is alive and well still in many parts of the world.

Posted by Ith at 5:45 PM | Comments (2)

January 5, 2004

Still A Mystery

When I was a little girl, I read a book about Oak Island and its great mystery, and it's still a subject I try to look in on every once in awhile. Here at work, we get Rolling Stone, and normally, I'd just toss it to the guys, but not today. This issue has an article on Oak Island with its history, and what's happening now. Very interesting stuff! And still no resolution to the mystery! A couple of theories I hadn't heard before are Templar treasure, and the proof that Francis Bacon wrote the plays of Shakespeare. Supposedly someone's doing a documentary as well. Lot's to look forward to for Oak Island buffs.

It's not up on their website yet -- they're still featuring last month's issue -- but it might be at some point. Or you could take a look at your local newstand. It's the Jan. 22, 2004 issue, BTW.

Posted by Ith at 5:26 PM

November 27, 2003

For The Solstice

They've set up a live webcam at Maeshowe that will be in place till the end of January. go take a look -- when it's daylight that is!

Posted by Ith at 1:12 PM

October 22, 2003

A Bigger Boom

Scientists are revisiting the theory that the eruption of Thera doomed Minoan civilization.

An interesting read.

Posted by Ith at 6:11 PM

September 18, 2003

Bits Of History

My historical interest this week is the French & Indian Wars, and while surfing, I came across this site. I think it's going to be one of those websites I'm going to take a lot of time up exploring. This was the part that related to my search. It's a collection of newspaper articles from the time. You can see in the words of the people of era what they thought of the war. Fascinating stuff!

And here at Megalithic Portal are two items of interest (at least to me):

Mysterious figure found buried in Ooze anything but a bog standard relic

Could gold be gift from Caesar?

Posted by Ith at 5:37 PM | Comments (2)