Saturday, 23 November 2013

Pictish Stone Puzzle

Gamers and interested parties are being asked by Scotland’s national museum to utilise their technical skills to piece together over 3,000 fragments depicting the Cross on a Pictish slab.

The the first of its kind in the archaeological world, project sees participants using a 3D programme developed by a Scottish technology firm to try to solve the mystery of the Hilton of Cadboll Stone.  Experts believe people who play computer games are more adept at manipulating objects on screen.

The stone, which stood on a chapel site in Tain in Easter Ross was carved around 800AD, after the Picts converted to Christianity, in order to celebrate their new religion.  Over time the stone endured a number of accidents, until it was knocked over and broken, and the bottom portion was lost.   It is also believed to have been vandalised more than once during the time of the Reformation in the 16th century.

Excavations of the chapel site uncovered the upright base in the ground and more than 3,000 scattered fragments of the face of a cross. 

The hope is that gamers, and interested parties will be able to piece together the jigsaw to give experts a chance to interpret and decipher the stone’s elaborate symbols and carvings.

Maxwell said: “We need techy-savvy people who have the mindset and understanding of how to work with 3D objects which are a form of virtual reality in space. It’s that puzzle-solving mind we need.

She said there had been one previous attempt to piece all the fragments together but that it soon became obvious that such a task needed manpower and specialist skills – now possible due to new computer technology.

You can read more of the article at The Scotsman, and take part in solving the puzzle.

If you want to participate in finding the solution, you can do so at the Pictish Puzzle website.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Why the long silences?

Sorry folks, but a lot of my time these days is taken up either studying Gàidhlig (Scottish Gaelic), catching up on long overdue reading on topics of interest to my faith, or dealing with normal life issues.

I may get back to writing a few reviews, or updating here from time to time during vacation times, but it will be quiet for a while longer, I'm sure.  I'm reluctant, however, to let the page go and prefer to wait to see how things develop.

Be well.

Friday, 27 September 2013

BookLikes, Goodreads, and Social Network Censorship

I have decided to remove the Goodreads widget from the right hand column of this blog, because I am going to delete my Goodreads account, and move all my books, reviews, and data to BookLikes, a rival book/networking site.

The move will mean a lot of extra work, adding covers, adding data on self-published books and books not found on conventional book seller sites, etc., but it will be worth it to be able to freely express my opinions of books to friends, and shelve/tag my books as I see fit without interference (read: censorship) from the website owners.  I have been a member of Goodreads for many years, with over 900 books listed, (virtually) met lots of fellow pagan readers, and was a librarian: editing covers; inserting book summaries; inviting fellow authors I admired to join groups and enter into discussions about their work; and adding books from obscure publishers, many of which were pagan and/or occult related, to the ever-expanding database.  I am not the only librarian to leave under protest and, this appears to have resulted in a slower response time to requests from members of Goodreads to make amendments to books, as many super-librarians - those who have made thousands of edits or more to the Goodreads database - depart.

Normally, I detach myself from spats between authors, readers, fans, and member but when Goodreads decided to edit its policy on reviews and how their membership named bookshelves without informing their membership of the same, and then began deleting personalised shelves without rhyme, reason or informing infringing members first (to provide them with time to amend or save the content), I felt it was time I moved on – being a believer in self-censorship, but little beyond that. 

I was taken aback when I learned one member’s shelf, innocuously titled "Tain", relating to Táin Bó Cúailnge was deleted without warning.  Perhaps Goodreads staff felt they were able to read the mind of the member, and came to the conclusion that the name "Tain" was a comment on the behaviour of the authors – as this is the only reason for deleting shelves according to the scant comments from Goodreads staff on the unannounced policy change?[1]  Where is the logic in deleting a shelf entitled “bad authors” but leaving another shelf, belonging to the very same member account, called “cool authors”?  

It all seems hypocritical: instigating a policy supposedly to end the targeting of authors, only to bully their own members by saying that staff know what a member is really thinking when naming a shelf “authors I want to avoid”, i.e. it’s a comment on the author’s behaviour.[2] 

Oddly, the policy change, censoring of book shelf titles, ensuing furore, and mass exodus of members occurred during Banned Book Week.

For now, it seems BookLikes are keen to hear the suggestions of their new members, and have promised to provide lots of new goodies including a private messaging system, and groups function for socialising, and will be developing apps for those of us who read on the go, but like to update our progress.

I’m pretty hopeful my celtic myth shelves will be at BookLikes for a long time to come.

[1] Like Goodreads staff, I am also a mind reader ... actually, I’m not but I’m speculating based on the many reports I’ve read from other members.
[2] It would never refer to the poor writing style, unsavoury content of the author’s books, etc.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

A Repost

I kind of felt the need to reblog one of my own posts from 2011:  "9th Century Irish Myth and the Internet".   It came to mind after witness several (non-)discussions on internet groups.


I read this and thought it needed reblogging, because it is an inspired connection between the Irish myth and the internet of today.

From Mo Thearmann:

This always comes to mind when I see people acting like idiots online. It's from Tecosca Cormaic (The Instructions of King Cormac).

"O Cormac, grandson of Conn", said Carbery, "What is the worst pleading and arguing?"

"Not hard to tell", said Cormac.
"Contending against knowledge,
contending without proofs
taking refuge in bad language
a stiff delivery,
a muttering speech
uncertain proofs,
despising books
turning against custom
shifting one's pleading
inciting the mob
blowing one's own trumpet
shouting at the top of one's voice.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Kilmartin Captured

Kilmartin Glen is an area situated at about 25 miles south of Oban in Argyll, surrounding the village of Kilmartin and contains one of Scotland’s most significant concentrations of Neolithic and Bronze remains.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Witches' Reel by The Familiars

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Another Defensive Wall Found in Scotland; Thought to be Larger than Hadrian's Wall

The Daily Mail's headline reads "Hadrian's Wall had a bigger and older Scottish brother: Archaeologists's 10 year study uncovers 120 mile defence system built in AD 70s to keep out northern tribes".

  • Archaeologists reveal Roman defence system in Scotland
  • Structure is believed to be made up of forts, fortlets and watchtowers
  • Thought to have been built in AD 70s after Romans invaded Scotland
  • Deterred hostile northern Caledonian tribes from invading land
It is the largest monument from the ancient era in northern Europe, but Hadrian's Wall in fact has an older and more northern brother.

Archaeologists have been carrying out research into a huge late fist century AD defence system, which stretches 120 miles across Scotland.

A total of 14 forts and several fortlets, which formed part of a defensive network built in the AD 70s, have so far been investigated over the past decade by the team, led by Dr Birgitta Hoffmann and Dr David Wolliscroft, both of the University of Liverpool.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

"The Curse of Macha"

Big Chris Lennon of Belfast-based Digital Mist Productions will begin shooting his brainchild ‘The Curse of Macha’ this August, a feature-length production inspired by ancient Irish myths and legends including the ‘Táin Bó Cúailgne’. The film is currently in pre-production based on the screenplay Chris co-wrote with Paul Micheal.

In all seriousness though, the story is set during 4th Century Ireland and focuses on a woman named Emer who is forced to face the horror of her missing children when her village is set ablaze amid an invasion.
Source:  Bad Haven.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Gaelic Language, Song and Folklore in Canna

2013 sees the launch of a brand new and exciting opportunity to experience the secrets of the Isle of Canna in the Hebrides. Canna House is prepared to give up the secrets of its priceless Folklore Collections of Margaret and John Campbell for the very first time. Take the opportunity to be one of the first people to explore not only the Campbells’ legacy, but also what drew them to Canna and why it is such a special little island. Fiona will be running her 4th Annual course of both Gaelic Song and Gaelic Language on the island itself this October. 

An intrinsic part of this course will be the opportunity to also learn Gaelic, through the revolutionary, intensive, Ulpan method, delivered by well-known tutor Rhoda Meek.  Gaelic was at the heart of traditional Canna life until not that long ago and  learning the language in the shadow of the cliffs of Rum is an ideal way to feel part of that culture and increase understanding of that way of life.

View more details at Fiona Mackenzie.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Prehistoric rock art found in Scottish Highlands

The Archaeology News Network reports that:

"An archaeologist has uncovered the biggest collection of ancient rock art in the Highlands. Douglas Scott, 64, of Tain, Ross-shire, discovered a circle of 28 carved rocks which date back 5000 years while combing a 200-metre hillside farm in Evanton."
The full story can be read at the website here.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

The Search for Brigid Story Archaeology

Brigid: the much-loved, Irish saint and the revered, Celtic, tribal ancestress.  But is there a connection between the two?  Sift through the strata of her story in conversation with the Story Archaeologists.

Music: “Tam Lin” by Gian Castello

Don’t forget to subscribe to get the latest podcasts by The Story Archaeologists!

I cannot recommend this series of podcasts on the Irish stories, myths and poetry from The Story Archaeologists enough.  Though I received the recommendation last year, I have only begun listening this past week and have regretted not listening sooner, as I am entranced by what is discussed in these podcasts.  I'm not academic and these discussions seemed to be addressing the lay person, such as myself, so I am grasping the connections being made, and having lots of personal "A-ha!" moments of understanding as I listen.

I've linked to this particular podcast, exploring the stories surrounding Brigid, because we are approaching Là Fhèill Brìghde 2013.  However, this is Episode 5 of Series 1 in the podcasts and I should like to suggest that listeners start from the beginning and work their way through the series.  Something I neglected to do.

I hope my readers find the discussions of the Story Archaeologists as fascinating as I do.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Spirituality during a Crisis

My start to 2013 was poor having spent a considerable amount of time being ill, and confined to a hospital, and then home - I'm still unwell.   Despite this, for whatever reason, I never appealed to my gods, I didn't think to meditate or engage in my spirituality on any level.

Reflecting on this, I realise how odd my behaviour seemed.  If I had been in a similar situation in my younger days, I would have offered prayers and made appeals to a god I didn't really believe in, yet, here I am firmly entrenched in my chosen polytheist path, and while enduring this latest health crisis I made no attempt to connect with my gods, or use any of the methods I have learned over the years to improve my situation.   Why?

It could have been my brain was frazzled from the lack of sleep over an eight (8) day period, and fuzzy from high temperatures and infections, even so, shouldn't my faith has been my comfort?  A solution to the deep, dark place in which I found myself?

How could I have forgotten such a major part of my life?  Even when I noticed that my religion was not noted on my admission forms, I thought to amend them, but never did.  All was forgotten.

I feel this is something on which I should reflect/meditate.   Why did I feel so distant from my gods, the spirits of place, my core.   How do I get that connection back so I never forget during a crisis again?

I should never have felt so alone, knowing my gods, and the spirits of my land as I do.   It is obvious something in me needs to change, and this should be my focus for 2013.