Showing posts from July, 2017

Enigmatic Artefacts of the Irish Bronze Age

As regular readers of this blog may be aware, I’ve been publishing a series of small posts based around some photos I took on two trips to the National Museum of Ireland, in 2016 and 2017. My usual approach is to manipulate the image in Instagram and publish the result to social media – I’m hardly Man Ray ! Usually this goes fairly well/unremarked. That is until I posted one of a pair of gold-covered lead objects from Killyleagh, Co. Down. The Museum’s information card describes them as Bullae (Single: Bulla) and dates them to the period from 800-700 BC. Another archaeologist noted that the item more closely resembled ‘ring money’ and thus developed a rather interesting discussion, taking in contributions from several professional archaeologists and assorted non-specialists. The crux of the matter is that the term ‘Bulla’ is usually used to describe a more ‘bag-like’ object, such as the famous example from the Bog of Allen [ here | here ]. Like the Killyleagh examples, this

Swastikas from the Oseberg Ship Burial, Norway & Time Travelling Nazis ...

Fragment of Oseberg tapestry showing horse-drawn covered wagons ( source ) When I first thought about reviving the late Prof Rynne’s lecture on the swastika in Irish art and archaeology I didn’t have many concerns. I though I may (occasionally) have to explain that I’m not an actual Neo Nazi or in some way using the research topic as a vehicle for some form of anti-Semitism. As it turns out that’s never happened, though I do know of one instance where my lecture was boycotted because of the ‘controversial’ nature of the subject. What I hadn’t anticipated was the response of my friends and acquaintances on social media that now see a swastika and immediately post it to me. I genuinely can’t thank you all enough – your contribution to my research is so very much appreciated. Some of the examples sent are known to me, some are new, but all are accepted with gratitude.   Tapestry fragment possibly showing sacrificial victims hanging from trees ( source ) Recently my friend J

A gold lunula from Rossmore Park, Co. Monaghan

Continuing my series of images of artefacts from the National Museum of Ireland, I’d like to highlight the beautiful gold lunula from Rossmore Park,  Drumbanagher, Co. Monaghan.  Conventionally, these artefacts are divided into the groups know as ‘Classical’, ‘Unaccomplished’, and ‘Provincial’. The Classical variety show the greatest skill in their manufacture and the greatest symmetry in their decoration. The Rossmore Park is a particularly fine example of the Classical type and is thought to date to around 2000 BC. It is often thought that, given the probability that they’d be uncomfortable to wear, lunulae may have been worn infrequently – just on special occasions where the display of status and power was important. I would parallel this with many women’s approach to wearing high heels – rather uncomfortable and just for special occasions and/or when power and status displays are needed. I want to deliberately make that link between women and power because (despite the

Star spangled banners – Flags on display in Austin, TX

In a previous post on the wonderful exhibits to be seen at The Bullock Texas State History Museum , I looked at the fascinating display of the hull and artefacts from the 17th century wreck of La Belle . In this post, I want to touch on their display of American flags . While the modern American flag has a ubiquitous presence – even to Europeans – in our news coverage, movies, TV shows, and social media, I’ve never really given much thought to its history and development. Well, that changed once I stepped into the Museum’s vexillology display. In part, my fascination with this exhibition stems from having lived so long in Northern Ireland, where flags and emblems have been a contentious issue and the past continues to intrude on the present. I’m not going to attempt to give you a complete history of the American flag – you can read the rather good Wiki article on it yourself. Instead, I merely intend to share some of my pedestrian photos of these beautiful and historic flags. En