Showing posts from November, 2019

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

Careful with That Axe, Stanley … some random thoughts on displaying artefacts

From April to September 2019 The Design Museum in London hosted a retrospective of the life and career of Stanley Kubrick . It was a magnificent show that placed his movies in context, and displayed rarely-seen items from his archives. It was all timed to coincide with the 20th anniversary of Kubrick’s death and the release of his final movie – the tragically under regarded Eyes Wide Shut . I was lucky enough to get to see it twice (once in the presence of my eldest son, himself an emerging Kubrick acolyte). There was just so much on display that it was hard to take it all in. There were original costumes, scripts, clapperboards, even the remarkable cameras he used to film the breath-taking Barry Lyndon . While there is much to enthuse about, Kubrick is relatively recent for consideration by an archaeology blog (even this one!). Instead, I want to mention two items that caught my attention for how they were displayed. Axes. Original Props. The Stanley Kubrick Archive, Univ