Thursday, September 22, 2011

Celtic Writings for the start of Autumn

"A good season for staying is autumn; there is work then for everyone before the very short days. Dappled fawns from among the hinds, the red clumps of the bracken shelter them; stags run from the knolls at the belling of the deer-herd. Sweet acorns in the wide woods, corn-stalks around cornfields over the expanse of brown earth. There are thorn-bushes and prickly brambles by the midst of the ruined court; the hard ground is covered with heavy fruit. Hazel-nuts of good crop fall from the huge old trees on dykes"

This was taken from a work called 'The Four Seasons' by a unknown Irish writer of the 11th century.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Shut up the Bee (for St Matthew's Day)

St Mathee, shut up the Bee;
St Mattho, take thy hopper and sow;
St Mathy, all the year goes by
St Matthie, sends sap into the tree
St Matthew
Brings the cold, rain and Dew

NB I am unable to put a date on this poem. Can you help?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Bede's Death Song

"Before the unavoidable journey there, no one becomes
wiser in thought than him who, by need,
ponders, before his going hence,
what good and evil within his soul,
after his day of death, will be judged."

                        * ~*~*

"Fore there neidfaerae naenig uuiurthit
thoncsnotturra than him tharf sie
to ymbhycggannae aer his hiniongae
huaet his gastae godaes aeththa yflaes
aefter deothdaege doemid uueorthae."

Hear in Nothumbrian English

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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Columba's Nettle Broth ~ 11th Century Irish

"Once when he was going round the graveyard in Iona, he saw an old woman cutting nettles for broth for herself. What is the cause of this, poor woman?" Said Colum Cille. "Dear Father" said she, "I have one cow, and it has not yet borne a calf; I am waiting for it, and this is what has served me for a long time." Colum Cille made up his mind then that nettle broth should be what should serve him mostly from then on for ever; saying,"Since they suffer this great hunger in expectation of the one uncertain cow, it would be right for us that the hunger which we suffer should be great, waiting for God; because what we are expecting, the everlasting Kingdom, is better, and is certain." And he said to his servant "Give me nettle broth every night," said he, "without butter or milk with it." "It shall be done", said the cook.

 He hollowed the stick for stirring the broth and made it into a tube, so that he used to pour the milk into that tube and stir it into the broth. Then the people of the church noticed that the priest looked well, and talked of it among themselves. This was told to Colum Cille, and then he said,"May your successors grumble for ever! Now!" said he to the servant, "what do you give me in the broth every day?" "You yourself are witness," said the menial, "unless it comes out of the stick with which the broth is mixed, I know of nothing in it except broth alone." Then, the explanation was revealed to the priest, and he said. "Prosperity and good deeds to your successor for ever!" And this has come true."

 -Irish 11th Century

Nettle soup recipe that uses ingredients available in the 11th century

Monday, September 5, 2011

Borgund Stave Church

Stave Church: Borgund, Norway 

 Borgund Stave Church in Norway, built in the late 1100's. When the Vikings became Christians, they built Churches like this one, over 1,000 of them.The majority of existing stave churches are found in Norway, but related church types were once common all over northwestern Europe.

Borgund stave church (Borgund stavkyrkje) is a stave church located inBorgund, Laerdal, Sogn, Norway. It is classified as a triple nave stave church of the so-called Sogn-type. This is the best preserved of Norway's28 extant stave churches. It was probably built in the end of the 12th century, and has not changed structure or had a major reconstruction since that date.

Most striking and odd to modern Christian eyes are the four dragon's heads, like those used on the prows of the old Viking ships (these were placed on the highest roof-peaks to serve the same function as the gargoyles on medieval Cathedrals) to ward off evil spirits. It should be noted that many more Christian crosses than dragon's heads adorn the peaks of the church roof.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Britain's First Christians ~ Michael Wilson

Historical evidence is not always available or reliable when available. The earliest positive evidence of Christianity in Britain is Roman. Following the exploratory raid by Julius Caesar in 55BC Britain was invaded by the Roman legions in 43 AD under the command of the Emperor Claudius. It was he who personally entered the Celtic settlement now known as London and later the much larger Celtic capital Camelodunum now known as Colchester. Over the following years more legions, merchants and land speculators arrived together with their servants, slaves and followers. Despite the brief set back caused by the Boudicca led revolt, the romanisation process continued. However it should not be thought that the Claudian legions waded ashore bearing Christian symbols, far from it. Paganism, with its plethora of gods and observances was very much the norm, Mithras being one of the main Roman deities, particularly popular with the army. Evidence shows that in the beginning Christianity was very much the religion of the poor, the servant, and the slave or lowly artisan. I would suggest that amongst these groups women would be very much in the majority. The Chi Rho, Alpha and Omega symbols have been found scratched on the remains of early Romano-British everyday earthenware articles, the possessions of the poor and on the walls of excavated Romano-British sites.

The spread of Christianity can be traced by the change in funerary rites. During the 1st and 2nd centuries AD cremation and internment of the ashes in urns was very much the norm. By the 3rd and 4th century AD burials of the person intact became increasingly common; what could be seen as "Orthodox burials". At Poundbury in Dorset a large Romano-British Christian community existed according to the evidence from the burials discovered there and similar evidence has been found at York. Also in Dorset remains of Roman villas have been unearthed at Frampton and Hinton-St Mary with the Chi Rho symbol in floor mosaics. At Lullingstone in Kent there are the remains of a private chapel in a villa. In the North West during the late 1970's much construction work was carried out in Manchester in the Castlefield area which is the site of Roman Mancunium. It was here that an earthenware tablet was unearthed inscribed with a seemingly incoherent jumble. This would have been displayed in a Roman Christian home. To an unbeliever just a tablet with letters, but any Christian entering the house would immediately be able to decipher the letters into the "pater nostra" or "Our Father." They would then know that they were safe to discuss their beliefs which was very important during that brutal period of persecution which took place before 313 AD. The significance of this find is clear when it is realised that this is only the second "pater nostra" acrostic to be found; a similar tablet having been unearthed in Turkey some years previously.

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