Showing posts from 2019

Thanks for Reading! | The Top 10 posts of 2019

As we come to the last days of the old year I’ve been having a look at what people enjoyed reading. Here’s my Top 10 most-read posts of 2019: 10: The Petrie Museum | Overview 9: Co Tyrone: Archaeological Objects at The British Museum 8: Co Kildare: Archaeological Objects at The British Museum 7: I have always imagined Paradise as a kind of library: some books of enduring importance (to me) 6: The Tauntaun of Fermanagh. 17th Century Cryptids in West Ulster 5: Co Louth: Archaeological Objects at The British Museum 4: Co Antrim: Archaeological Objects at The British Museum Part III 3: Don’t steal, don’t lift: Thoughts on the consequences of plagiarism 2: I got a letter on a lonesome day: The anatomy of a dispute with the Keeper of Irish Antiquities 1: Archaeological Archives for Sale! Buy it or bin it! To this list, I’d add three further posts for your consideration that I think are worth a read but didn’t make the top 10. John de

From the fireplace where my letters to you are burning: Waiting for an apology from the Keeper of Irish Antiquities

How many days has it been since the Keeper of Irish Antiquities claimed that I was trying to defraud the Irish State when I was merely looking to be paid for work they directed me to undertake? My count up Countup Backstory: In a letter dated February 17 2019  Maeve Sikora , Keeper of Irish Antiquities said that  “It is completely unacceptable for you to attempt to extract public monies for discharging duties to which you signed up under the terms of the excavation licence.” She appears to believe that I am held in perpetual indentured servitude to her on the basis of a licence application I signed almost two decades ago and that I must carry out her orders on my own time and at my own expense, without expectation of payment for my services. I have repeatedly asked for a retraction of her egregious and wounding words and to offer a full, unconditional apology. To date, this has not been forthcoming. On November 27 2019 I published my account of my dispute, along wi

As the curtain is drawn – Monsters & ghosts at a kabuki theatre

In the summer of 2019, I had one of the best weekends of my adult life. In fulfilment of a promise to my eldest, he and I spent a couple of days and nights exploring London. I wanted to take him to see parts of the city that had particular resonance for me as well as visiting places that were new to us both. Part of our plan was to visit the Manga exhibition at the British Museum. Before we went, I wasn’t a particular fan of the art style. To be fair, I’m still not, though I do have a much-increased appreciation and opinion of it. I can also vouch for the fact that the BM can put on a spectacular exhibition – claimed to be the largest and most comprehensive exhibition of the Manga art style ever mounted outside of Japan. Rather than provide a late review for the show, I wanted to pick out a couple of pieces that caught my eye and attention. The first piece I want to look at is the magnificent Shintomi theatre curtain from 1880. This 17m long masterpiece was created for the

I got a letter on a lonesome day: The anatomy of a dispute with the Keeper of Irish Antiquities

Regular readers of this blog may just have an inkling that I have a tendency towards the controversial and downright provocative. I realise that it’s hard to believe such notions from a blog that has published posts on both swastikas and cock rings (though not at the same time … yet). Still, it may come as a surprise that a little piece I published on February 6 2019 called ‘ Archaeological Archives for Sale! Buy it or bin it! ’ ruffled a few feathers. While I would urge you to go back and read this minor masterpiece, the TL;DR version is that under the guise of putting all the archaeological archives I still hold (but have never been funded to completion) up for sale, I wanted to highlight a real issue in Irish field archaeology. Simply put, this is the well-known fact that many excavation directors are forced to hold onto excavation archives in their own homes and at their own expense for many years, even past the point of any hope for their eventual publication. Some of wha

Give me a wooden cross – crosses in the void?

Some time ago I published a piece on this blog about the occurrences of swastikas in Early Medieval Irish Art ("Always remember to draw the swastika turning to the right": Some thoughts on swastika directionality in Early Medieval Irish Art ). For the most part, these examples are relative uncontroversial – while their exact meaning may be up for debate, they’re individually identifiable as swastikas. That is, until one comes to St Patrick’s Bell shrine. The external portion of the shrine was commissioned somewhere between 1091 and 1105 by King Domnall Ua Lochlainn. In among the writhing serpentine motif, showing the influence of the Scandinavian ‘Urnes style’ there are a number of swastikas, L-shapes, and Tau crosses. They are all formed through the interplay of a pierced silver grille against a sheet of gilded bronze. By my count there are some 37 clockwise-spinning swastikas. And that is where the problem lies … ‘by my count’ … one particular commentator on the piece ar