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A book review

September 4, 2007

On occasion we’ll post reviews of books we’ve really enjoyed (or books we want to warn people off) – if only to use the words ‘rambunctious˚’ or ‘roistering˚’ – as is the case today with A.D. 500 by Simon Young. Not normally fans of historical fiction, unless it’s Flashman or Erast Fandorin, we’ve been mightily pleased with Simon Young’s offering. A rambunctious, roistering exploration of Early Historic Britain and Ireland (these Isles/Islands, the NW European archipelago, Islands of the North Atlantic (IONA), Anglo-Celtic Isles – or whatever you’re having yourself) it’s a hugely entertaining romp (YES, ‘romp˚’ – we’ll never get to use these words again so bear with us) set in a period of great change in this still Barbaric corner of Europe. The book describes a journey to Cornwall, through Wales, Ireland and Britain in the sixth century. Told through the eyes of Greek visitors, it’s written as a survival guide and educational glimpse of life in brutal times. The tradition of nipple-sucking to ensure safe passage under the ‘motherly’ guardianship of a local Tuath, and the ‘obscene’ act with a white mare as part of the coronation ritual (a little recounted ancient Irish ritual) are brilliantly evoked. We’re not calling for the reintroduction of these rites but Irish corporate culture would be greatly enriched by some of these so-called barbaric practices – at the very least meetings would be more entertaining (if a little less comfortable).

We also strongly recommend Pete Brown’s books (Man walks into a Pub and Three Sheets to the Wind – the latter of which features Billy and Dec at their most ebullient˚), and Julian Gough’s Jude Part 1, recently published, with the continuing story available online free.

˚We sincerely apologise for the use of these words and assure you that we will never, ever use them again – but we’ve been writing archaeological reports and ecological assessments and other scientific and technical things for years now and couldn’t resist it.

 

Here’s some pretty pictures of this years Crinniú na mBád by way of an apology.

Crinniú

Crinniú 2

And here’s the YouTube video posted by BigYes of the Great Beer Experiment

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Chris G permalink
    September 6, 2007 4:18 pm

    Nice film, you’ve convinced me. A few ideas occur is there evidence of grains in eccavated holes? I suppose it’s hard to tell if they were a brew or added to a stew like pearl barley is today. Can you not boil water with stones in jars? I can definitely see this sort of thing being done for a celebration/festival much like festival brews are done today.
    ps thanks for the link.
    Chris (living for pleasure alone)

  2. September 8, 2007 11:53 am

    Hi Chris,
    Regarding evidence of grain in the troughs, so far no evidence but we are waiting on some information which may confirm same! More on that at a later date. Although you could boil water in a pottery vessel, the volume that you can get in a wooden trough is much greater. As we demonstrated, up to 300 litres could have been produced. It’s our feeling that the pots would have been used for fermentation. The idea of the fulacht’s being used for the production of large volumes of ale for a celebration/festival brew is appealing. In one example, archaeologists found a set of pipes in the base of the trough. Perhaps, after ten years or so of festival brews, the brewers had one final party and ritually laid the pipes in the trough before moving on to their new site.

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