Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Co Fermanagh: Archaeological Objects at The British Museum

The British Museum holds 28 items identified as coming from Co Fermanagh, along with one each located to Fermanagh/Galway and Fermanagh/Tyrone. The majority of these (9) are assigned to the Early Bronze Age period (9). The most common object type represented are axes (7), followed by flat axes and spear-heads (5 each). Three material types are represented in this assemblage: Metal (21), Stone (8) and Pottery (1).


Neolithic: Stone item
Enniskillen
lozenge arrow-head
0.913
Flint lozenge arrow-head.


Neolithic/Bronze Age: Stone items
Fermanagh
axe
St.128.b
Polished stone axe; damaged butt.

Fermanagh
hammer
19890301.143
Perforated stone hammerhead, chipped on blade, one end shaped like hammer, oval shape, brown in colour.

Enniskillen
axe
20050501.304
Polished stone axe with; butt broken.

Enniskillen
axe
20050501.305
Polished stone axe with slightly damaged butt and chipped blade; damage to butt end of one face.


Neolithic (?)/Bronze Age (?)/Iron Age (?): Stone item
Lisbellaw
whetstone; hammer (?)
18431226.28.b
Stone whetstone; triangular; flat end might have had secondary use as hammer?; dark grey slate; undamaged but scratches on visible surface (much of one face covered with collector's label).


Bronze Age: Metal item
Fermanagh
spear-head
OA.123
Copper alloy socketed spearhead, blade only.

Fermanagh
spear-head
OA.121
Copper alloy socketed spear-head, perforated blade.

Fermanagh
spear-head
OA.142
Copper alloy socketed spear-head, pegged.

Fermanagh
spear-head
18580504.100
Copper alloy socketed spear-head, side-looped.

Enniskillen
axe
18431226.700
Copper alloy short-flanged axe; cast.

Florence Court
spear-head
18470401.600
Copper alloy socketed spearhead, pegged. Damaged.


Early Bronze Age: Metal items
Fermanagh
axe
18630122.190
Copper alloy flanged axe with thin, rounded butt; decorated.

Enniskillen
flat axe
19641201.810
Copper-alloy flat axe; with a thin, straight butt. Sides splay gently from butt to create a semi-circular cutting-edge. Entire object surface is covered with mounds and pits of green and brown copper-alloy corrosion.

Enniskillen
flat axe
19641201.800
Copper-alloy flat axe; with a thin, rounded butt. Sub-triangular in form. Sides splay gently from butt to form a slightly rounded cutting-edge. Entire object is covered with green and brown patina; there is a mound of corrosion on one face with blue corrosion despoits.

Florence Court
axe
18470401.400
Copper alloy flanged axe with thin, rounded butt. Undecorated.

Florence Court
flat axe
18470401.500
Copper-alloy flat axe; with thin, narrow, rounded butt. Sides are roughly parallel to each other in upper half, then splay gradually in lower half to from a slightly rounded cutting-edge.

Ballynamallard
dagger
18640503.200
Copper alloy dagger with an aysemmetrical blade. Three rivet holes visible with one rivet in situ.

Enniskillen
halberd
18831018.100
Copper alloy halberd, asymmetrical blade with rounded hafting plate and straight, rounded midrib. Three rivet holes.

Enniskillen
flat axe
19641201.820
Copper-alloy flat axe; with a thin, slightly rounded butt. Sides are almost parallel in the upper half, before splaying gradually to form a semi-circular cutting-edge.


Late Bronze Age: Metal items
Florence Court
socketed axe
18470630.300
Copper alloy socketed axe; cast. Oval mouth with bevelled rim. Neck is concave and ridge is set at top of loop. Sides are straight and cutting edge is slightly expanded. Casting seams were trimmed. Cross-section of body is sub-rectangular.

Ballynamallard
socketed axe
18680805.110
Copper alloy socketed axe, cast. Mouth is flared and neck concave. Loop very strong and broad. Remains of a casting jet are visible on rim and mould join also occurs inside the mouth.

Ederny
sword
18431226.100
Copper alloy sword, with modern repair. The terminal end of tang is missing. There is one rivet-hole and the remains of another at the broken end.

Ballynamallard
sword
18640503.100
Copper alloy sword.

Newton Butler (near)
penannular ring
18601123.100
Gold small penannular ring with external longitudinal striations on the body. The terminals are decorated with four-five light incised horizontal lines and finish in uneven blunt ends.
1000BC-750BC (circa)


Medieval: Metal item
Florence Court
cauldron
18470401.100
Cauldron; bronze; three feet of differing sizes and two angular handles with hanging attachment; rib rises from centre of each leg.
13thC


Unknown: Pottery item
Fermanagh, crannog
crucible
18850712.150
Crucible, of oval section; grey ware, with traces of accidental vitrification on one side.


Unknown: Stone item
White Island (said to be)
sculpture
20138017.290
Carved black basalt sculpture in the form of a head with a separate plinth.
1stC-20thC (?)


The following item is listed in the museum catalogue as coming from either Fermanagh or Galway:
Neolithic/Bronze Age: Stone item
Fermanagh/Aran Islands
axe
19080208.100
Large polished stone axe; blade missing; damaged butt.

The following item is listed in the museum catalogue as coming from either Fermanagh or Tyrone:
Early Bronze Age: Metal item
Ederny (?)/Fivemiletown (?)
flat axe
18431226.300
Copper alloy flat axe; with a thin, narrow, rounded butt. Sides are roughly parallel to each other in upper half, then swing out gently in lower half to form a rounded cutting-edge, which has a notch missing.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

An Open Letter to the Students of University College London

Image by RyanMinkoff - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=74889821

I would like to take this opportunity to address the students of University College London (UCL) – especially those newly enrolled in classes and courses. Congratulations! You’re now members of the student body of an institution that bills itself as ‘London's Global University’.

I’m sure you’ve had an exciting time since coming to University. So much to see and do – and all in the heart of London too! I’m sure there have been freshers events, clubs & societies days, tours of the campus, and all that barely-managed mayhem of beginning an exciting and potentially life-changing period of your life. In amongst all this excitement, I am sure there have been orientation events that have concentrated on class expectations and the basics of how the assessment systems work. You will, I can guarantee it, have been introduced to the world of Turnitin – the portal through which your essays and assignments will be submitted for grading by your lecturers. You will also be aware that part of the function of Turnitin is to automatically scan your work for evidence of plagiarism. Plagiarism is a filthy habit and must be suppressed at all costs!

Thankfully, your university has provided a handy web page for your education and reference [here]. I’m sure you’re already familiar with it, but allow me to provide a summary – it gives a definition of what plagiarism is, it notes that you can even unintentionally plagiarise yourself! (sounds painful). In the final section ‘What you can and can't do at UCL’ it helpfully lays out some basic ground rules. These include cutting & pasting text from other sources, recycling essays (including your own), employing ghostwriters, or even to go so far as to “produce a piece of work based on someone else's ideas without citing them”. The webpage makes it clear that a range of penalties await the unwary or unscrupulous student: “ranging from failure of classes to expulsion from academic institutions.”

There you have it! Be warned! These are the rules you must live by in your academic career – attempt to contravene them at your peril! While them may, at first, seem difficult and onerous, you can rest easy in the knowledge that everyone is on the same, level playing field! Everyone’s singing off the same anti-plagiarism hymn sheet! Of course they are! It really wouldn’t make sense to subject one group to these high and lofty principles and at the same time allow another group a complete pass on them.

UCL wouldn’t do that to you! You’re fine!

But …

… well …

… here’s the thing …

What if your academic superiors were actually held to a different standard? Perhaps they’re held to a higher standard? It would make sense, wouldn’t it? They’re professors and eminent folks with PhDs – you’re just a student starting out, but they’re professional academics. It would stand to reason that they’re being held to a higher, loftier, more noble standard than you.

But …

… well …

… here’s the thing …

What if they weren’t?
What if they were actually being held to a much lower standard than is expected of their students?
How would you feel about that?
Probably a bit peeved, right?
But, of course, that’s not the case, so no need to worry! Right?

But …

… well …

… here’s the thing …

Let me tell you a very short story, or at least a story as short as I can make it. Some of my work was used in a paper by some of your lecturers. They were as follows: Andrew Bevan, Sue Colledge, Dorian Fuller, Stephen Shennan, and Chris Stevens, all from UCL. There was one further co-author on that paper - Ralph Fyfe who teaches at Plymouth University. It turns out that although the work I (and others) did was instrumental to their paper, they felt that they didn’t need to give any real credit for it. If you wanted to find out who’d provided background data you’d have had to have downloaded a .zip file of additional material, navigate into one of many sub-folders and there discovered a .md file that gave a brief list of the authors and works they’d built their research on. In my case it was even more galling as they gotten both my name and the name of my work wrong. As Bevan couldn’t be made to understand that he’d done anything wrong, I felt that I had no recourse open to me other than to submit a complaint to your university. Surely UCL would do the right thing! They’d see how their lecturers hadn’t played fair, issue an apology, give the authors a rap on the knuckles and tell them not to be so silly in future. In my reading around plagiarism and how to make an official complaint, I encountered the webpage mentioned above. Its contents gave me great hope that I would be taken seriously and the transgressors would be dealt with appropriately. You can read the detail of what actually happened in my post ‘Three Billboards Outside University College London: A case of approved plagiarism by Prof Andrew Bevan et al.’, though the title does kinda give the ending away (sorry). After waiting months to even get a response beyond an acknowledgment of my original email, the enquiry found that as there had been no intent to deceive, there was no plagiarism and hiding away all reference to my work where it would struggle to be seen was perfectly acceptable.

Imagine if you were up in front of an academic review board, or being on the receiving end of some sharp words from an tenured supervisor for something picked up by the Turnitin system. How would you feel knowing that the people sitting in judgment on you were not going to be held to the same standard? Even if you were scrupulous in every essay, project, report, and thesis you ever did and there was never even the slightest hint that you might have plagiarised the work of another you could still be a victim of your own professors. So long as they didn’t mean it, they’re free to take your work and pass it off as their own. And there’s nothing you can do about it!

So … anyway … welcome to UCL! I’m sure you’ll have a great time and not be plagiarised by your own lecturers! It’ll be fine!

Robert M Chapple

Note
Lest anyone think that this is directed at UCL alone, allow me to add that the separate investigation carried out by Plymouth University into the culpability of Ralph Fyfe found exactly the same thing.

I’ve not carried out a thorough survey, but I’d be surprised to learn that UCL and Plymouth University were the outliers here. I suspect that many more universities have rules of conduct for their staff that are markedly different from those they apply to their own students in terms of plagiarism. Perhaps it is time that some of these universities moved proactively to balance the situation and ensure that the same rules apply to all?