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Archive for October, 2010

On October 31st, we celebrate Halloween,thought to be the one night of the year when ghosts, witches, and fairies are especially active.

Most people think of Halloween today as simply a day when children dress up in costumes and go from home to home to “trick or treat” and collect enough candy to make any parent cringe. Halloween was much more significant in ancient times, however. October 31st was a very important day to the ancient Celts of Ireland, Scotland and Great Britain. No kidding around in costumes and trick or treat bags; Halloween was much more serious to the non-Christian Cults a thousand years ago.

Halloween remains a popular day in the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico, Ireland, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand. Children get to dress up in their favorite costumes and ring doorbells throughout their neighborhood to collect as much candy as possible. In the United States’ Halloween is the second most popular holiday (after Christmas) for decorating and reaps a huge financial bounty of retail selling of frightening costumes to children and adults alike, decorations and candy. But for eons, the history of Halloween encompased ancient beliefs about the world – both living and dead.

Understanding the history of Halloween can perhaps help you decide what to let your children take part in, and what to keep your children away from. Also, knowing the origin of Halloween and its history can also help Christians view the adult, youth, and child activities associated with Halloween celebrations in the light of Christ’s truth.

What Is The History of Halloween?
Halloween originated among the Irish Celts, Scots and Anglo-Saxons in Britain long before the Christian era. Originally called Samhain, it was a time when they believed the division between the worlds of the living and the dead became very thin and when ghosts and spirits were free to wander as they wished. The name “Halloween” is a shorter form for the Gaelic name All-hallow-evening. Pope Boniface IV instituted All Saints’ Day in the 7th century as a time to honor saints and martyrs, replacing the pagan festival of the dead. In 834, Gregory III moved All Saint’s Day to Nov. 1, thus making Oct. 31 All Hallows’ Eve (‘hallow’ means ‘saint’).

On the night of Samhain, it was believed spirits of the restless dead and mischievous spirits would freely roam about with humans and during this one night spirits were able to make contact with the physical world as their magic was at its height. The Celts believed that by allowing the dead to have access to the world on this one evening, they would be satisfied to return to the land of the dead. The Celtic people would put out food offerings to appease the spirits who might inflict suffering and violence on them and Celtic priests would offer sacrifices, animal and human, to the gods for the purpose of chasing away the evil, frightening spirits. They built fires where they gave sacrifices to the Celtic deities to ensure protection from the dead spirits. Samhain was also a time when it was customary for the pagans to use the occult practice of divination to determine the weather for the coming year, the crop expectations, and even who in the community would marry whom and in what order.

When Rome took over their land, the Samhain was integrated with two other Roman festivals: Feralia and a festival to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. By the time Christianity come on the scene, Halloween had already taken root from the pagan beliefs and was integrated into Christian practices. As the Europeans found their way to the New World, they brought with them their traditions which soon evolved to fit their new country.

Many customs still observed today come from these ancient beliefs. For example, the elaborately carved jack-o-lantern is said to have been named after the Irish story of a greedy, hard-drinking gambling man, Stingy Jack, who tricked the Devil into climbing a tree and trapped him there by carving a crude cross into the trunk of the tree. In revenge for being stuck in the tree, the Devil cursed Jack and made him walk the earth at night for eternity. The jack-o-lantern of today is carved with a scary face to keep Jack and other spirits from entering their homes.

A problem for the Celtic people was… if the souls of dead loved ones could return that night, so could anything else, human or not, nice or not-so-nice. So, to protect themselves on such an occasion, these superstitious people would masquerade as one of the demonic hoard, wearing masks and other disguises and blackening the face with soot to hopefully blend in unnoticed among them. This is the source of modern day Halloween costumes portraying devils, imps, ogres, and other demonic creatures.

 Should Christians Celebrate Halloween?
For Christians, the origins, history, and current practices of Halloween has its root in Satan, the author of deception.

He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. [John 8:44]

While some might say that Halloween is now only a fun children’s holiday, it should be noted how much the modern day American practices and modern day witchcraft have in common with the ancient beliefs of the Celtic people. Contrary to some beliefs, the historic Samhain was not a time for witches and the worship Satan. Samhain was the end of the crop season and the official beginning of autumn. The ancient Celts celebrated a successful crop season on Samhain, giving thanks for the bounty of the harvested crops. The satanic celebrations now observed on Halloween is a more recent invention of more contemporary Satanists who have focused more on this season as a time when the dead can easily communicate with the living therefore making divinations and sacrifices more attainable. Modern day Halloween has thus become a mixture of ancient beliefs, occult practices and a highly commercialized children’s holiday.

While some people consider celebrating Halloween to be a sin, others simply feel that Halloween quite simply shouldn’t be a holiday at all! A few Southern states have been known to ban trick-or-treating on Halloween, especially when it happens to fall on a Sunday. Halloween parties are renamed “fall festivals” and children replaced scary costumes with costumes of Bible figures, historical figures, or no costume at all.

Considering that Satan is the father of lies, it can be understood how many are confused and deceived about this holiday. Like Christmas and Easter, both Christian celebrations, the true origins of Halloween, a non-Christian celebration, are eons old and some of the true meanings of the traditions of these celebrations have been distorted over time. In recent times, Christmas appears to be more about presents, parades and feasts than about celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. Traditions surrounding Halloween have followed the same fate. All too often we think of Halloween merely as a time of dressing up in costumes in going trick or treating around the neighborhood. In antiquity, the traditions of Halloween were of enormous significance throughout Scotland, Ireland and Britain.

Have a spooky one!  I will be at Avebury Stone Circle for the Samhain gathering.

Stonehenge Tour Guide
HisTOURies UK – The Best Tours in Wessex

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When one thinks of Wiltshire the images which spring most readily to mind are the spacious rolling downland of Salisbury Plain and associations with pre-history which are at their most stunning at Avebury and Stonehenge. Whilst Wiltshire is more complex than this a journey northwards to the Marlborough Downs will reinforce this picture of sweeping chalk downland and ancient times. Here, there is also the handiwork of more recent history, in the famous Wiltshire White Horses. There are now eight of them and they have their own newly opened long distance path, ‘The White Horse Trail’.

The Vale of Pewsey and Savenake Forest, part of the Kennet District, offer a complimentary landscape which also has many enjoyable walking opportunities; and the Kennet and Avon canal, joining the two rivers, provides delightful waterside rambling through peaceful rural countryside.

South of Salisbury Plain the Wylye and Nadder river valleys offer lovely walks, once again through a quiet rural landscape a million miles away from the hustle of industrial Swindon in the north of the county.

Guide Books:

  Guide Books: [For further information]
100 Walks in Wiltshire by: Various contributors. An omnibus of local walks covering the whole of Wiltshire. The book is ideal for family outings and as a valuable reference book for residents and visitors to the region. There is a wide choice of routes with perhaps two thirds spread over the northern part of the county. Salisbury Plain is not well represented, but this is largely due to Ministry of Defense activities, which do not co-exist well with peaceful country walking. However all the best parts of Wiltshire are covered. The walks vary in length from 2 to 12 miles, the majority being in the 4/6 mile range. Sketch maps and route descriptions are on facing pages.
Walks in Mysterious Wiltshire by: Laurence Main. Discover Wiltshire’s secret places. Wiltshire has long been associated with both historic and prehistoric sites, most notably Avebury and Stonehenge. See and experience these for yourself and contemplate their significance as temples, secular monuments or ancient observatories. Many more mysteries await walkers in this historic area; white horses carved on Wiltshire’s hillsides, sites of ancient battles, neolithic burial sites and a network of ley lines, those ancient trackways often associated with spirit pathways. There are stories of Wiltshire’s witches, folklore traditions, Arthurian legends and even UFO’s! These are just some of the prospects offered in 27 well planned routes of interest to all the family.
Waterside walks in Wiltshire by: Nick Channer. The 20 circular routes in this book are all between 2 and 9 miles in length. Each walk instruction also includes details on how to get to the start by car, where to park, and what food and drink are available locally. For greater clarity, the route descriptions are divided into numbered paragraphs, which correspond with the numbers on the accompanying sketch maps. There are also seperate sections about places of interest to visit nearby. From walks near Heytesbury, once the home of war poet Siegfried Sassoon, the Vale of Pewsey and the National Trust village of Laycock to Salisbury’s watermeadows and Devizes’ flight of 29 canal locks, this book provides the walker with many interesting and exhilarating hours in the open air.
50 Walks in Wiltshire by: David Hancock. 50 themed walks of between 2 and 10 miles, each with fascinating background reading, clear, easy-to-follow route descriptions and detailed sketch maps. Locations include: Chute Standen; Great Bedwyn; Savernake’s Royal Forest; Wootton Rivers; Ramsbury; Clarendon; Amesbury; Avon Valley from Downton; Pepperbox Hill; Vale of Pewsey and Oare Hill; Salisbury; Lydiard Park; Great Wishford; Till and Wylye Valleys; Fyfield Down; Old Sarum; Avebury; Barbury Castle; Cricklade; Dinton and the Nadder Valley; Ansty; Wardour Castle; Ebble Valley; Bowood Park; Bremhill; Heytesbury; Devizes; East Knoyle; Fonthill; Tollard Royal; Roundway Hill; Holt; Castle Combe; Lacock; Bowden Park; Malmsbury; Sherston; Box Hill; Stourhead; White Sheet Hill; Westbury White Horse; Corsham; Longleat Estate; Bradford-on-Avon; Frome Valley; Bath.
Ten Walks in West Wiltshire by: RA West Wilts Group. All are circular and they vary in length from 4 to 11 miles. Locations are as follows: Bradford on Avon – Little Ashley (6km); South Wraxall – Stonar School – Little Chalfield (8km); Warminster – Arn Hill – Upton Scudamore (9km); Holt – Staverton – Whaddon – Broughton Gifford – Great Chalford (10km); Brown’s Folly – Farleigh Wick – Monkton Farleigh (10km); Westbury – Upton Scudamore – Old Dilton (11km); Steeple Ashton – West Ashton – Yarnbrook (13km); Bradford on Avon – Westwood – Freshford – Farleigh Hungerford – Avoncliff (13km); Bratton – Bratton Castle – Edington (14km); Nockatt Coppice – Bidcombe Wood – Cold Kitchen Hill – Brimsdown Hill ( 18km).
Walking in West Wiltshire Book 2 by: RA West Wilts Group. The ten walks in this booklet have been devised and written by ten members of the group. Accordingly the descriptive narratives show a variety of different styles. For ease of use a detailed sketch map is shown opposite each walk description with the route clearly highlighted. Paragraph numbers in the description are shown on the maps at relevant points. This guide allows you to share in the discoveries of experienced ramblers with good local knowledge. The walk starting locations are as follows: North Bradley (8.5km); Semington (8km); Trowbridge (9km); Bradford on Avon (9km); Steeple Ashton (6.5km); Thoulstone (9km); Kingston Deverill (11.5km); Shearwater (10km); Melksham (10.5km); Heytesbury (7km).
Walking in West Wiltshire Book 3 by: RA West Wilts Group. In this book members of the RA West Wilts Group have devised a further ten interesting and enjoyable walks using their local knowledge and experience. For ease of use a detailed sketch map is shown opposite each walk description. Also highlighted are paths providing links with adjacent walks described in the book. The walk starting locations are: Edington (8.5km); Heytesbury (11km); Melksham (10.5km); Horningsham (10.5km); Bradford on Avon (11.5km); Codford (15km); Warminster (12km); Westbury (8km); Broughton Gifford (9.5km); Sutton Veny (15.5km).
Somerset, Wiltshire and the Mendips Walks by: Brian Conduit. 28 routes colour coded for difficulty, varying from extended strolls to exhilarating hikes.The guide introduces you to the area and highlights the most scenic walks. OS Explorer mapping is included. Locations include: Nunney Combe; Nettlebridge and Harridge Wood; Devizes and Caen Hill Locks; Ilminster and Herne Hill; Langport and Muchelney Abbey; Salisbury and Old Sarum; Lacock and Bowden Park; Fovant Down; Old and New Wardour Castles; Avebury; West Kennett and Silbury Hill; Glastonbury; Lambourne Downs; Uffington Monuments and Vale of the White Horse; Ham Hill, Montacute and Norton Sub Hamdon; Cadbury Castle and the Corton Ridge; Hinton Charterhouse and Wellow; Bradford-on-Avon, Pewsey Downs; Stonehenge; Barbury Castle and Ogbourne St Andrew; Wells, Ebbor Gorge and Wookey Hole; Savernake Forest.
Literary Strolls in Wiltshire ans Somerset by: Gordon Ottewell. 40 attractive strolls throughout Wiltshire and Somerset, each with a strong literary association. In Wiltshire, you follow in the footsteps of such remarkable people as multi-talented William Morris, architectural commentator Nikolaus Pevsner, war poet Siegfried Sassoon and Celia Fiennes, the pioneer travel writer. The walk locations include: Swindon and South Cotswold Area – Inglesham; Marston Meysey; Oaksey; Broad Town; Hodson; Barbury Castle; Bishopstone. Chippenham and Devizes Area – Kington St Michael; Kington Langley; Bremhill; Bromham; Broughton Gifford; Poulshot; Bishops Cannings. Salisbury and Warminster Area – Heytesbury; Steeple Langford; Hindon; Tisbury; Mere; Newton Tony; Pitton.
Ten Walks Around Devizes by: Graham Hillier and Ron Wiltshire. 10 circular walks created with the intention of starting and finishing at the focal point of Devizes Town – The Market Place. There is much of interest to see on these walks including a visit to the site of the Civil War battle of Roundway Down; a stroll along Quakers Walk, once an elm lined avenue from Roundway Park to Devizes; the remains of Devizes Castle and a medieval deer park enclosure; several stretches along the Devizes canal and the sites of several macabre events desribed in the text. Other locations visited on the walks are Gypsy Patch, Roundway Hill, Hartmoor, Potterne Village, Potterne Woods, Drew’s Pond, Hillworth Park, Sleight and Stert, Consciences Lane, Rowde, Lower Foxhanger’s, and Rangebourne Mill.
11 Half Day Walks in North East Wiltshire by: North East Wiltshire Group – Ramblers’ Association. All the walks are around five miles in length so that only a morning or afternoon is needed to complete them. The walks are well described and sketch maps are included. The walks have been chosen to show the variety of countryside in the area. The walk locations are: Avebury and the Sanctuary; Berwick Bassett Common and Windmill Hill; Love’s Copse and Love’s Lane; Poulton Downs and the Railway Path; Wexcombe and Grafton Downs; Castle Hill and Stanton Fitzwarren; Hare, Aughton and Inham Downs; Hippenscombe Bottom; The Kennet Valley; The Ridgeway and Hinton Downs; Rivers Key, Ray and Thames.
20 Walks Around Swindon by: North East Wilts Group – Ramblers’ Association. This booklet describes 20 circular routes from 2 to 7 miles. Locations are: Cotswold Water Park; Highworth, Red Down and Hannington; Cricklade and Cotswold Water Park; Blunsdon, Stanton Fitzwarren and Kingsdown; Lechlade, Buscot and Kelmscot; Bishopstone, The Ridgeway and Ashbury; Liddington Hill and Downs; Chiseldon and The Ridgeway; Upper Upham; Chilton Foliat and Hungerford; Downs and Og Valley; Barbury Castle, Smeathes Ridge and Burderop Down; Manton and Fyfield Downs; Wootton Bassett, Little Park Farm and Wilts and Berks Canal; Clouts Wood and Elcombe; Peatmoor, Shaw and River Ray Parkway; Lydiard Park and Purton; Coate, Day House Lane and Greenhill; Coate Water and Broome Manor; Old Town Railway and West Leaze.
12 Walks Around Marlborough by: Bert Toomer. The walks in this booklet were devised to take you to the best vantage points in the area and to bring you back to your starting point. Locations are: Circular from Ramsbury; Aldbourne, Ewin’s Hill and Ramsbury; Baydon, Hodd’s Hill and Membury; Great Bedwyn, Wilton and Kennet and Avon Canal; East Croft Coppice; Ramsbury and Littlecote; Piggledene, Stony Valley and Devil’s Den; Marlborough and Mildenhall; Martinsell Hill, Draycot and Gopher Wood; Martinsell Hill, Kennet and Avon Canal and Wootton Rivers; West Woods, Gopher Wood, Knap Hill and Wansdyke; Milk Hill, Wansdyke, Tan Hill and Kennet and Avon Canal; Milk Hill, Wansdyke, Stanton St Bernard and Kennet and Avon Canal.
Nine Downland Walks by: BertToomer. The collection of walks in this booklet will help you make the most of the fine countryside that lies between Swindon and Marlborough. Clear route instructions and sketch maps are provided. The walk locations are: Barbury Castle, The Ridgeway and Burderop Down; Upper Upham and Snap; Smeathe’s Ridge, the Ogbournes and Four Mile Clump; Chiseldon and Hodson; Rockley, Totterdown and Fyfield Down; Ridgeway Path, Shipley Bottom and Sugar Hill; Burderop Down and Smeathe’s Ridge; Hackpen Hill, Rockley, Totterdown and the Ridgeway; Ogbourne St. George, Whiteshard Bottom and Chase Woods.
8 Easy Walks Around Salisbury by: South Wilts Ramblers’ Association. This is a set of eight walk cards contained in a plastic wallet. Each card has a brief description of the walk, the starting point and a sketch map on the front and the route directions on the reverse. The walks are between 2 and 5 miles long. The walk locations are: Charlton All Saints and the River Avon; Godshill Enclosure and Millersford Circular; Breamore House and The Mizmaze; Bowerchalke and over Marleycombe Hill; Fovant Badges and Chiselbury Camp; Old and New Wardour Castles; Great Wishford, Grovely Wood and River Wylye; Battlesbury, Middle and Scratchbury Hills.
10 Short Walks Around Salisbury by: South Wilts Ramblers’ Association This is a set of ten walk cards contained in a plastic wallet. Each card has a brief description of the walk, the starting point and a sketch map on the front and the route directions on the reverse. The walks are between 4 and six miles long. The walk locations are: Salisbury to Old Sarum; Figsbury Ring and Winterbourne; East Grimstead, Bentley Wood, Blackmoor Copse, Farley; Pepperbox Hill and Barford Down; Charlton, Downton and Trafalgar House; Breamore and Whitsbury; Nunton and Odstock; Broad Chalke and The Ox Drove; Dinton, Compton Chamberlayne and Fovant; Great Wishford and Grovely Wood.
10 Longer Walks Around Salisbury by: South Wilts Ramblers’ Association. This is a set of ten walk cards contained in a plastic wallet. Each card has a brief description of the walk, the starting point and a sketch map on the front and the route directions on the reverse. The walks are between 8 and 13 miles long. The walk locations are: Old Sarum to Stonehenge and Amesbury; Around Downton; Woodfalls; Martin Down, Pentridge and Vernditch Chase; Downlands and Valleys; Swallowcliffe, Ansty and Alvediston; The Inner Chase; Old Wardour, Tisbury and Castle Ditches; Sherrington, Great Ridge Wood and Knook; Salisbury Plain and the Till Valley.

 Needless to say we feel its better to join a local guide to explore the area but if you are visiting the area then the books I have listed above may be of great use, enjoy!

Stonehenge Tour Guide
HisTOURies UK – The Best Tours in Wiltshire

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A project to find the 100 events and places that played the most significant role in shaping the English language has been launched.

King Alfred of Wessex, the first person to call the language 'English'
King Alfred of Wessex, the first person to call the language ‘English’

 

From the Anglo-Saxon invasion of the fifth century to modern-day waves of immigration, the English language has been shaped by countless episodes in history.

Now The English Project, a charity dedicated to promoting the language, is compiling a list of the 100 most important events and locations which have made English what it is today

The journey starts in Lakenheath in Suffolk, where the Undley Bracteate medallion was found, dated to 475 and bearing the first evidence of written English.

Then in 731 the Venerable Bede completed his Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum in Jarrow, Tyne and Wear – the first text to speak of the English language and the English people.

And by 871 King Alfred of Wessex, the first person to call the language “English”, was ordering translations from Latin into West Saxon, a dialect of Old English.

In recent times the language has adapted again and again, on its way to becoming the common tongue of 1.8 billion people worldwide.

The charity has already compiled a list of 20 of the most important events in the history of the language, and wants the public to help produce the final list of 100 crucial events
Bill Lucas, a trustee of the English Project and professor of learning at the University of Winchester, said: “This is a wonderful way of engaging people in a wider conversation about the English Language.

“We want to get the nation really thinking about the stories behind our evolving language.

“How, for example, do you rate the relative significance of Shakespeare’s Stratford-upon-Avon, versus London’s part in the birth of the world wide web?

“English has now become the lingua franca of the world. It is the most exciting and exotic language partly because of its capacity to incorporate so many elements of other languages, and somehow to make these dynamic, descriptive and always exciting.

“The history of Britain and the history of the English language are also very closely intertwined.

“We’re excited about hearing people’s ideas about the places and events they think have shaped the language.”

Submit your suggestions on the charity’s website, www.englishproject.org

The 20 events and places nominated so far:

Date: 475

Lakenheath, Suffolk

The Undley Bracteate medallion, found at Lakenheath, has been dated to 475 and provides the first evidence of written English

Date: 731

Jarrow, Tyne and Wear

The Venerable Bede completed his Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum. Although writing in Latin, he was the first person to speak of the English language and the English people.

Date: 871

Winchester, Hampshire

Translations from Latin into the West Saxon dialect of Old English were commissioned by King Alfred of Wessex between 871 and 899. He is the first person known to have called the language “English”.

Date: 1066

Hastings, Sussex

William the Conqueror and his Norman army defeated King Harold at the Battle of Hastings, bringing with them a language that transformed English over the next 300 years.

Date: 1171

Waterford, Ireland

King Henry II of England landed in Waterford, beginning the worldwide exportation of English beyond the island of Great Britain – even though he himself mainly spoke French.

Date: 1362

Westminster, London

On October 13 the Chancellor of England opened Parliament with a speech in English rather than French for the first time.

Date: 1400

Westminster Abbey, London

Geoffrey Chaucer was buried in the Abbey. In 1556 he was moved into a more splendid tomb, beginning the tradition of burying great writers in Poets’ Corner.

Date: 1476

Westminster, London

William Caxton introduced printing to England, which became a huge force in the spread of English language literature.

Date: 1564

Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire

William Shakespeare, regarded by many as the greatest writer in the English language, is born.

Date: 1604

Hampton Court, Surrey

King James’s Hampton Court Conference set a translation team working on what came to be known as the King James Bible, published in 1611.

Date: 1665

Oxford

The first newspaper in English was the London Gazette, first published in Oxford in 1665 as the Oxford Gazette.

Date: 1709

Lichfield, Staffordshire

The birthplace of Samuel Johnson, creator of A Dictionary of the English Language. Published in 1755, it set new standards for the writing of English prose.

Date: 1847

South Charlotte Street, Edinburgh

The birthplace of Alexander Graham Bell who invented the telephone in 1876, initiating a major stage in worldwide communication.

Date: 1901

Poldhu, Cornwall

In 1901, Guglielmo Marconi sent the first radio transmission to St John’s, Newfoundland. North American and British English began to converge again after 300 years of separation.

Date: 1922

Portland Place, London

The British Broadcasting Company (BBC) begins transmission, influencing dramatically the way English language is used and spoken.

Date: 1945

Menlove Avenue, Liverpool

John Lennon lived here from the age of five. With his fellow Beatles, he revolutionised popular song.

Date: 1955

London

Tim Berners-Lee, who invented the World Wide Web, is born. English is the dominant language of the internet, and the net is a major factor in the globalisation of English.

Date: 1988

Plumstead, London

Patrick Chukwuem Okogwu, also known as rap artist Tinie Tempah, is born. Rap music shows the English language at its flexible best.

Date: 1997

Nicolson Street, Edinburgh

JK Rowling wrote much of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in Nicolson’s Café. Published in June 1997, the series of books started a worldwide reading phenomenon.

Date: 2003

UK

On Valentine’s Day, mobile phone usage was so widespread that for the first time, more people said “I luv u” by text than said “I love you” by post. Text English is a new and thriving form of the language.

British Tour Guide
HisTOURies UK – The Besy Tours in British History

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HISTORIANS in Penmaenmawr believe their ancient landscapes can rival some of the UK’s top tourist attractions.

Druids Circle

Druids Circle

Dennis Roberts and David Bathers of the Stori Pen Historical Society hope to have historical sites such as the Graiglwyd axe factory and the Druid’s Circle in the Snowdonia National Park into a UNESCO World Heritage site.

“To have a World Heritage Site would be immense for Penmaenmawr and the whole of Conwy,” said David.

The Graiglwyd axe factory is a Neolithic site where it is thought funerary tools were forged for use at the nearby Druid’s Circle, a collection of 30 stones 80ft in diameter.

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Excavations at this site have unearthed various relics, including the cremated remains of a child.

“There’s an Iron Age hill fort and there are also Bronze Age sites up there, where people came and settled,” said David.

“There’s a lot of stone areas where Neolithic man used to work.

“The area used to be immensely popular in the 19th century.

“With the right conditions put forward I’m confident it would be recognised.”

David added that it would be years until the site could be put forward for the UNESCO award.

Dennis Roberts is chairman of Penmaenmawr Historical Society.

“We are trying to make people aware of what is available in Penmaenmawr,” he said.

“There’s so much behind Penmaenmawr and Llanfairfechan, the area behind the mountains is extremely rich in prehistory. It would rival some of the Bronze Age sites in Britain.”

The historians plan to organise a trail in the mountains that will highlight the sites, before proposals are put to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation. They also plan to put a leaflet together.

Lesley Griffiths of the Penmaenmawr Tourist Association welcomed the proposals: “It’s brilliant news, if it comes to fruition.

“It would be extremely beneficial in that it would bring tourists to the sites. It would put Penmaenmawr back on the map.”

Cllr Ken Stevens added: “Areas of Penmaenmawr have some of the oldest industrial sites in Wales. Not a lot of people know what Penmaenmawr has. I wish them all the luck with it, I think we deserve it.”

Other British UNESCO World Heritage Sites include Stonehenge, the Giant’s Causeway, the Tower of London and Canterbury Cathedral

Stonehenge Tour Guide
HisTOURies UK – The Best Tours in Ancient History

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David Crisp said the valuation was "fair"

David Crisp said the valuation was "fair"

A hoard of more than 52,500 Roman coins found in a field in Somerset has been valued at £320,250.

The coins were discovered in April by Dave Crisp, from Wiltshire, who will share the sum with the landowner.

Mr Crisp said: “I’m very, very happy with that. I think it’s a fair valuation.”

Somerset County Council hopes to buy the hoard, one of the largest finds of Roman coins in Britain, for display at the Museum of Somerset.

The Treasury Valuation Committee was responsible for determining a value for the find.

The council’s heritage service has received £40,250 from the Art Fund towards the appeal.

‘Important’ discovery

The charity will also match every pound donated by the public up to the value of £10,000.

Steve Minnitt, head of museums for Somerset County Council, said the Frome hoard was one of the most important discoveries made in Somerset in recent years.

He said: “As such, we feel that it’s a find that really needs saving for the people of Somerset, so we’re launching the campaign now.”

The Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society has also donated £10,000 to the fund.

Under the Treasure Act, the local authority has four months to raise the money, although this deadline can be extended if necessary.

Mr Crisp, a hospital chef, intends to buy a new car with part of his reward money but intends to continue working until his retirement in August 2011.

Stonehenge Guide
HisTOURies UK – The Best Tours in History

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Tickets to watch the 2012 Olympic Games will be among the most expensive in British sporting history, it’s been revealed.

Sports fans will pay as much as £2,012 for the best seats at the opening ceremony, while the same seats at the closing ceremony will cost £1,500.

The most expensive sport will be the athletics, to be held at the new 80,000-seat Olympic Stadium.

A coveted ticket to the men’s 100m final will cost as much as £725 – the equivalent of £76 a second based on Usain Bolt’s world record.

Beach volleyball, gymnastics, diving and swimming will also be among the most expensive finals to watch, at £450 for the best seats, with the basketball finals close behind at £425.
The prices – which exclude corporate tickets – easily exceed those charged for the finals of the FA Cup, Wimbledon tennis and Premier League football matches.

LONDON 2012 TICKETS – THE FACTS

WHAT CAN I WATCH?
There are 26 Olympic sports but 39 disciplines in total. There will be 302 medal events and 649 sessions of sport to watch.

HOW MANY TICKETS WILL BE SOLD?
A higher-than-expected 8.8million.

HOW MUCH WILL THEY COST?
The price will vary according to the event. Each event will have different ticket prices, ranging from £20 to £725.

Organisers say 90 per cent will cost £100 or less, two-thirds will be £50 or less and 30 per cent £20 or less.

There will also be 11 free ticket sessions for sports such as triathlon, the marathon, race walking, road cycling and sailing.

ARE THERE SPECIAL OFFERS?
Yes, for around 220 sessions and 1.3 million tickets.
Children 16 and under on July 27 2012 will pay their age.

Those 60 and older on the same date will play a flat £16.

This offer will not include tickets for any final but will cover every sport.

Wheelchair prices include a companion seat.

Children will also be able to go along thanks to a ticket share scheme. 50,000 tickets have gone to the London Mayor, 50,000 to the Government and 25,000 to sporting bodies.

The Mayor’s tickets will go to children in London, the Government’s to secondary schools around the UK.

WHEN DO TICKETS GO ON SALE?
March 2011.

WHERE DO I FIND OUT MORE?
Register online at http://www.tickets.london2012.com

However, games organiser Locog insisted taxpayers had not been priced out of the event they had funded and said 90 per cent of tickets would cost £100 or less.

A third of tickets will cost £20 or under, with Olympic chiefs unable to keep their promise that they would sell half of tickets at this price.

Some 1.3million tickets will be reserved at special prices for children and people over 60.

Under the ‘pay your age’ scheme, 10-year-olds will pay £10, 11-year-olds £11 and so on.

Those over 60 will pay a flat £16.

Event bosses face pressure to make £400million from ticket sales, while ensuring that the 26 sports remain affordable and that the stadiums are full – avoiding a repeat of the near-empty stadiums at some of the Commonwealth Games events in India this month.

London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe described it as ‘the daddy of all ticket strategies’, adding: ‘We have three clear principles for our ticketing strategy: tickets need to be affordable and accessible to as many people as possible, tickets are an important revenue stream for us to fund the Games, and our ticketing plans have the clear aim of filling our venues to the rafters.’

Events such as the marathon, cycling road race and time trial and triathlon will be free because they are on public roads, although grandstands at the finish area will be ticketed.

The cheapest events include the shooting finals with a top price of £40, sailing at £55 and the modern pentathlon at £75.

There are 8.8million tickets available, with 6.6million of these available to the public from March 2011.

The rest will go to broadcasters, sponsors and the 204 overseas Olympic committees.

Some 1.7million people have registered on the london2012.com website, which will guide them in applying for tickets for the 26 sports, split into 649 sessions.

The Government wants each school in Britain to receive six free tickets, but London Mayor Boris Johnson is trying to find sponsorship for a further 75,000 to be given to London pupils so one in eight can attend the Games.

Lord Coe said: ‘We made a promise to inspire young people to choose sport and our ticket prices will get as many young people as possible to the Games.’

Olympics Minister Hugh Robertson added: ‘I am confident we will have packed stadiums and venues.’

Make your tour plans well in advance.  Escape the city for a day and join a private guided sightseeing tour.  Contact us in advance for any travel arrangements you may need. 

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Oscar Wilde: Google doodle features The Picture of Dorian Gray

Oscar Wilde, writer, poet, playwright, wit and gay icon. His 156th birthday is celebrated with a Google doodle

“Illusion is the first of all pleasures”, Oscar Wilde once said.

So it is fitting then that the Google doodle has changed again, this time to celebrate what would have been the 156th birthday of one of the greatest writers, poets and playwrights who ever lived.

The design pays tribute to the Irishman by featuring a portrait from The Picture of Dorian Gray – the first and only novel published by Wilde.

The work was published in Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine in 1890. It was revised and published as a novel a year later.

“An artist should create beautiful things, but should put nothing of his own life into them,” Wilde wrote in the first chapter.

In a review of the 2009 film, starring Colin Firth and Ben Barnes, Darragh McManus said in the Guardian, “For me, Dorian Gray is special – not necessarily Wilde’s best work but unique in his canon – because it’s so sincere: ineffably, inescapably, absolutely. It’s a very good novel anyway: moving, exciting, full of dread, angst, horror, lucidity … and a great love, I think, for mankind and for the artist’s own self.”

Besides films, there have been plays, readings, exhibitions, walks and other events to mark Dorian Gray.

But Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde, who came into the world in 1854 (“genius is born – not paid”, he once said), was most well known for his stage masterpiece, The Importance of Being Earnest. It opened in 1895 in London.

His other short stories and poems include The Happy Prince and Other Tales. For the stage he wrote Lady Windermere’s Fan, A Woman of No Importance and An Ideal Husband.

In addition to his literary fame, Wilde remains a gay icon.

Although he married and had two sons, in 1891 the writer started an affair with Lord Alfred Douglas, dubbed ‘Bosie’.

In 1895, Wilde sued Bosie’s father for libel as the Marquis of Queensberry had accused him of homosexuality.

He was arrested and tried for gross indecency, sentenced to two years hard labour for sodomy.

During his time in prison he penned De Profundis, a monologue and autobiography addressed to Bosie.

He also took up the issue of inhuman prison conditions in The Ballad of Reading Gaol, which he wrote on his release in 1897.

Wilde died broke in a hotel in Paris, aged 45, on November 30 1900.

One of many misconceptions about Wilde is that he died of syphilis, but recent research claims a rare ear infection took his life.

Writing about his “hero” in the Guardian last year, writer Michael Holroyd said, “What I came to value was the charming way he arrived at deeply unpopular opinions … He was an extraordinarily brave writer. ”

Wilde’s work touched many people. Even the Vatican’s official newspaper last year praised a book written about the playwright.

In 2000 Wilde fans marked the 100th anniversary of his death with a service in Westminster Abbey.

My personl favourite:

“It only tkes me one drin to get drunk, I just cant remember if its the 14th or 14th”

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First Time Visitors Itinerary

First time visitor to London? Make sure you see the best of London with our three-day itinerary.

See the London Eye, the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, Shakespeare’s Globe, the British Museum and lots more. You’re sure to want to return again and again!

Day One

Morning

Board a 30-minute flight on the London Eye and admire London from a height of 135 metres in one of 32 capsules.

Original London Sightseeing Tour and Big Bus Company run hop-on, hop-off open-top bus tours of the city centre passing all the major landmarks, and lasting approximately two hours. Catch either tour outside County Hall by Westminster Bridge and see what the city has to offer.  These could be booked at http://www.BestValueTours.co.uk

Lunch

Alight from the bus at Tower Bridge and take the stairs down to Shad Thames and Butler’s Wharf. The riverside Butler’s Wharf Chop House offers excellent value set menus during the week.

Afternoon

See London’s most notorious prison and the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London. A Yeoman Warder gives a tour of the Tower every half an hour.

Walk back to Tower Bridge and visit the Tower Bridge Exhibition. You’ll see some of the most spectacular views up and down the River Thames and learn about the history of one of London’s most famous landmarks.

Evening

Experience London theatre, from musicals such as Billy Elliot and Mamma Mia, to opera and ballet at the Royal Opera House and modern dance at Sadler’s Wells. There really is something for everyone.

After the show enjoy a post-theatre meal at Joe Allen, a favourite with actors and people that work in London’s theatre industry.

Day Two

Morning

Wander around Covent Garden, Neal Street and Seven Dials for a bit of shopping. Watch the street entertainers and explore the covered market. If the weather is good, you can sit outside and people-watch in the piazza.

Lunch

Board the Bateaux London lunch river cruise, and enjoy a three-course meal as you cruise along the River Thames.

Afternoon

Head to Shakespeare’s Globe, where a tour offers a fascinating insight into Shakespearean London and today’s working theatre.

Next door is Tate Modern, where you can browse the permanent collection or view one of the world-class exhibitions. Don’t miss coffee in Café 7, Tate Modern’s seventh floor café looking out over the Millennium Bridge and St Paul’s Cathedral.

Evening

Try Britain’s favourite dish for dinner – a curry in Brick Lane. A market by day, Brick Lane is lined with curry houses and trendy bars. Preem and Bengal Village offer good, value for money meals. Have a few drinks after your meal in the Vibe Bar, the Big Chill Bar or 93 Feet East, which has a great line-up of live music and DJs.

Day Three

Morning

Head to the British Museum, London’s single most visited museum, featuring exhibits such as the 2,000 year old Lindow Man, Egyptian pharaohs and treasures from all over the world.

Afternoon

Take the Tube to Camden Town and explore Camden Lock Market, where you’ll find clothing, jewellery, arts and crafts and some of London’s more interesting characters. The market is a great place for lunch, with stalls and shops cooking food from all over the world.

Walk from Camden to Primrose Hill, for one of the best views of London. This is a great spot for a picnic or a few pints in one of the nearby pubs.

Evening

You can’t come to London without visiting a traditional London pub. Many of London’s pubs offer delicious food, with menus ranging from typical British cuisine such as fish and chips to Thai. The Fire Station in Waterloo and The Anchor & Hope on The Cut (also Waterloo) both offer a traditional pub environment plus a fantastic menu.

Enjoy London!

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Daredevil happenings at cathedral…
SHOPPERS in Salisbury may have spotted some strange shenanigans going on at Salisbury Cathedral on Thursday.

Blue Peter presenter Helen Skelton was joined by a steeplejack and an abseiling camerman to change the four red light bulbs on the spire.

The group climbed up inside the spire to the weather door, which is 12 metres below the summit and is the point at which they had to continue the climb to the top on the outside.

About the Cathedral:

The Cathedral Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Salisbury

Salisbury is unique amongst medieval English cathedrals, built within one century with no substantial later additions. The building itself is remarkable, a testimony to the faith and practical skills of those who erected it.

But it is much more than an historical monument. It is the Cathedral Church of the Salisbury diocese and so the Mother Church of several hundred parishes in Wiltshire and Dorset. It is a centre of pilgrimage for hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. Every day, week in week out, for century after century, God is worshipped here. Above all it is a place of prayer.
Salisbury and Stonehenge Tour Guide
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I have just been teaching my 5 year old boy archery – an essential part of our history in Britain.  This was compulsary 700 years ago………….
I frequently talk about the ‘longbow’ history on my guided tours and wanted to share some more in-depth information.

In writing this work, I have tried to create an accurate account of the Longbow’s development and use from its 12th century Welsh beginnings to its eventual military demise in the 16th century. The source material used is by no means a complete list, and as such, I encourage all to perform their own research into this field. Suffice it to say, I present this work as an outline of major events to spark the imagination and to feed the soul.

Origin of the English Longbow

Early 12th Century: The Longbow was developed from a Welsh bow that had been used against the English. During the numerous skirmishes with the Welsh, the English had witnessed the power of this weapon.

1252: Longbow was accepted as a formal military weapon.

C.1280: Longbow adopted by Edward I during the Welsh campaigns after seeing how effectively the Welsh used the bow.

1331-1333: Longbow used by Edward III during the Scottish Campaign.

1337-1453b: The hundred years war with France:During this time, the English and Welsh longbowmen were the most prominent part of the English army, sometimes outnumbering the Men-at-Arms by as much as 10:1. The average was a ratio of about 3:1.

1346: The Battle of Crecy: The English army of Edward III won the first major battle of the 100 Years War. The English numbered between 12,000 and 19,000 men, of which 7,000 to 10,000 were archers. The French Army, under Philip IV was made up of 12,000 mounted Men-at-Arms, 6,000 Genoese Crossbowmen, and up to 60,000 Foot Soldiers. The English were aided by a shower that morning, making a charge up a muddy hill, with the sun in their eyes and arrows raining down on them — most difficult for the French. The opening shots were loosed by the Genoese Crossbowmen, which fell short. The English answered with five times as many arrows, which did not fall short. The Crossbowmen broke ranks and tried to flee the field. The French commander, however, was displeased with the apparent lack of courage and ordered that the Crossbowmen be ridden down by the Heavy Cavalry on their way to the English line. After 16 charges and 90 minutes, the French had lost 4000 knights, including 2 Kings, 2 Dukes, and 3 Counts. English losses were estimated at only 50 men.

1356: The Battle of Poiters: Edward III, The Black Prince of Wales, with 6,000-8,000 men defeated a French host 3 times as large. This time the French fought largely on foot, and this time, much hand to hand fighting took place, with the archers attacking the rear and flanks of the French charge. In the end, the results were much the same as at Crecy. Two thousand French Knights and Nobles, including the Constable of France, 2 Marshals, The Bearer of the Oriflamme, along with thousands of common foot soldiers were killed. One Arch-Bishop, 13 Counts, 5 Viscounts, and 21 Barons and Bannerets were killed or captured.

1415: The Battle of Agincourt: In what was perhaps the greatest victory of the Hundred Years War, a small, sick and exhausted English army under King Henry V, won an astounding victory over a seasoned French host at least three times as large. The composition of the English forces was 1,000 Men-at-Arms and 5,000 Archers divided into the traditional three “battles” with the archers in a wedge pattern flanking each “Battle”. When the battle was over, between 7,000 and 10,000 French had been killed. Among those killed or captured were the Constable of France, a Marshal, 5 Dukes, 5 Counts, and 90 Barons. Fewer that 500 English had been lost during the fighting.

Arms and Armor of the Well-Equipped Longbowman

Equipment of the 14th Century:
The more well equipped archers, the house archer, wore an Open-faced Bascinet or a simple conical helmet, sometimes with a maille Aventail, a “fall” covering the neck and/or cheeks. For body protection, the Padded Gambeson or Aketon was most commonly worn. This was a thick quilted knee length coat with long sleeves that tapered to a tight fit at the forearms, so as not to hinder the archer. Sometimes a Chain-maille shirt was worn over the Gambeson. These shirts were hip-, thigh-, or knee length, with half, three-quarter, or full length sleeves. Obviously the lighter type was more common. Leg plates, shoulder plates (Spaulders or Pauldrons) and similar plate augmentation was uncommon at this stage of history.

Equipment of the 15th Century:
During this period, the well equipped archer wore a simple open faced Salade or Sallet. Occasionally, these were visored, but one wonders as to the hindrance of such a device. The Jack, a thigh length, diamond quilted version of the Aketon, by this time had become the standard body covering. By the mid 15th Century, Brigandine had started to be used. This was a sleeveless, poncho like jack with integral overlapping plates fastened between layers of stout fabric by a series of rivets. Plate augmentation for the legs, arms, and shoulders seem to have been more prevalent during this period, but it was still uncommon.

The weaponry of the well-equipped archer remained fairly constant during this whole period. Besides the archer’s longbow, and a sheaf of 24 war arrows, the archer also carried a dagger, a sword of some type (generally a short sword) and a small shield know as a “Buckler “. The English were renowned “Sword and Buckler” fighters until the 17th Century.

Through both centuries, the archer wore the badge and colours of his employer, whether lord, gentry, or city. The Livery Coat or Jacket was common. These garments were made of wool or linen broadcloth, hip or thigh length, with or without collars, and half or full length sleeves, or sleeveless. The badge was sewn or embroidered on the front and sometimes the back of the garment. A white Livery Jacket with the red cross of St. George was very common in the 15th century.

The English Longbow

The English Longbow is a “self-bow”. This is a single piece of wood that is shaped and seasoned for the purpose. The wood of choice was Yew, but availability problems often required the use of Wych Elm, Elm, and Ash as substitutes. The medieval craftsmen selected the staves with great care. A master Bowyer could craft a bow in under 2 hours!

The length of the finished product was from 67 inches to 78 inches in length and up to 2 inches thick at the riser. This length was more or less fitted to the individual user. Draw weights ranged from 80 to 120 pounds. Draw length was between 29 and 32 inches, as the draw was “to the ear” or “to the breast”. The limb had horn knocks inserted to protect the limb tips and to ease stringing of the bow. There was no arrow rest on the handle, it being common to ride the arrow on the index finger.

A Short History of the English Longbow

By: Captain Anton

In writing this work, I have tried to create an accurate account of the Longbow’s development and use from its 12th century Welsh beginnings to its eventual military demise in the 16th century. The source material used is by no means a complete list, and as such, I encourage all to perform their own research into this field. Suffice it to say, I present this work as an outline of major events to spark the imagination and to feed the soul.

Introduction

The English Longbow, more than any other weapon of its time, was responsible for vast changes in the nature of medieval warfare. In doing so, it made England the foremost power in Europe during the 14th and 15th centuries. England’s armies became the most feared units in Europe, and with good cause. Almost every battle fought was won by an intelligent utilization of massed archers and men-at-arms. Upon many occasions, English troops were sorely outnumbered, only to win the day.

Such was the power of the Longbow, that contemporary accounts claim that at short range, an arrow fired from it could penetrate 4 inches of seasoned oak. The armored knight, considered at one time to be the leviathan of the battlefield, could now be felled at ranges up to 200 yards by a single arrow. One account recalls a knight being pinned to his horse by an arrow that passed through both armored thighs, with the horse and saddle between!

Modern tests have verified that this was indeed possible. A 700-800 grain arrow can pierce 9 cm of oak at close range, and 2.5 cm at 200 yards. No armor up to plate was proof against an arrow at less than 200 yards, and even plate could be penetrated at less than 100 yards.

Another aspect of the Longbow was the archers themselves. Archers began training at a very early age, traditionally at the age of seven. Training at long ranges was mandatory, complete with fines for violations. Local tournaments were held regularly, and the best archers were chosen for military duty. As these were all hand-picked troops from among the best archers in England, the archer units were an elite group of infantry. These were no base peasant levies; they were all hand-picked craftsmen who well knew their worth in battle.

The average English Military Archer could fire 12 to 15 arrows per minute and hit a man-sized target at a minimum of 200 yards. The maximum range was about 400 yards with flight arrows. An archer could not even consider himself skilled at his art if he could not shoot 10 arrows a minute! Note: From our own experiences at faire, we know that 10 aimed shots per minute at a man-sized target at half that range is quite a feat!

Origin of the English Longbow

Early 12th Century: The Longbow was developed from a Welsh bow that had been used against the English. During the numerous skirmishes with the Welsh, the English had witnessed the power of this weapon.

1252: Longbow was accepted as a formal military weapon.

C.1280: Longbow adopted by Edward I during the Welsh campaigns after seeing how effectively the Welsh used the bow.

1331-1333: Longbow used by Edward III during the Scottish Campaign.

1337-1453b: The hundred years war with France:During this time, the English and Welsh longbowmen were the most prominent part of the English army, sometimes outnumbering the Men-at-Arms by as much as 10:1. The average was a ratio of about 3:1.

1346: The Battle of Crecy: The English army of Edward III won the first major battle of the 100 Years War. The English numbered between 12,000 and 19,000 men, of which 7,000 to 10,000 were archers. The French Army, under Philip IV was made up of 12,000 mounted Men-at-Arms, 6,000 Genoese Crossbowmen, and up to 60,000 Foot Soldiers. The English were aided by a shower that morning, making a charge up a muddy hill, with the sun in their eyes and arrows raining down on them — most difficult for the French. The opening shots were loosed by the Genoese Crossbowmen, which fell short. The English answered with five times as many arrows, which did not fall short. The Crossbowmen broke ranks and tried to flee the field. The French commander, however, was displeased with the apparent lack of courage and ordered that the Crossbowmen be ridden down by the Heavy Cavalry on their way to the English line. After 16 charges and 90 minutes, the French had lost 4000 knights, including 2 Kings, 2 Dukes, and 3 Counts. English losses were estimated at only 50 men.

1356: The Battle of Poiters: Edward III, The Black Prince of Wales, with 6,000-8,000 men defeated a French host 3 times as large. This time the French fought largely on foot, and this time, much hand to hand fighting took place, with the archers attacking the rear and flanks of the French charge. In the end, the results were much the same as at Crecy. Two thousand French Knights and Nobles, including the Constable of France, 2 Marshals, The Bearer of the Oriflamme, along with thousands of common foot soldiers were killed. One Arch-Bishop, 13 Counts, 5 Viscounts, and 21 Barons and Bannerets were killed or captured.

1415: The Battle of Agincourt: In what was perhaps the greatest victory of the Hundred Years War, a small, sick and exhausted English army under King Henry V, won an astounding victory over a seasoned French host at least three times as large. The composition of the English forces was 1,000 Men-at-Arms and 5,000 Archers divided into the traditional three “battles” with the archers in a wedge pattern flanking each “Battle”. When the battle was over, between 7,000 and 10,000 French had been killed. Among those killed or captured were the Constable of France, a Marshal, 5 Dukes, 5 Counts, and 90 Barons. Fewer that 500 English had been lost during the fighting.

The Demise of the Longbow

1450: Formigny: Four-thousand French, including some well-trained artillerymen routed more than 7,000 English. Most of these were Archers.

1452: Castillon: French cannon all but annihilate 6,000 English.

1500: Introduction of firearms: Matchlock Muskets

1588: Longbow replaced by firearms during the Spanish Armada War.

1595: Longbow finally retired from military service.

Arms and Armor of the Well-Equipped Longbowman

Equipment of the 14th Century:
The more well equipped archers, the house archer, wore an Open-faced Bascinet or a simple conical helmet, sometimes with a maille Aventail, a “fall” covering the neck and/or cheeks. For body protection, the Padded Gambeson or Aketon was most commonly worn. This was a thick quilted knee length coat with long sleeves that tapered to a tight fit at the forearms, so as not to hinder the archer. Sometimes a Chain-maille shirt was worn over the Gambeson. These shirts were hip-, thigh-, or knee length, with half, three-quarter, or full length sleeves. Obviously the lighter type was more common. Leg plates, shoulder plates (Spaulders or Pauldrons) and similar plate augmentation was uncommon at this stage of history.

Equipment of the 15th Century:
During this period, the well equipped archer wore a simple open faced Salade or Sallet. Occasionally, these were visored, but one wonders as to the hindrance of such a device. The Jack, a thigh length, diamond quilted version of the Aketon, by this time had become the standard body covering. By the mid 15th Century, Brigandine had started to be used. This was a sleeveless, poncho like jack with integral overlapping plates fastened between layers of stout fabric by a series of rivets. Plate augmentation for the legs, arms, and shoulders seem to have been more prevalent during this period, but it was still uncommon.

The weaponry of the well-equipped archer remained fairly constant during this whole period. Besides the archer’s longbow, and a sheaf of 24 war arrows, the archer also carried a dagger, a sword of some type (generally a short sword) and a small shield know as a “Buckler “. The English were renowned “Sword and Buckler” fighters until the 17th Century.

Through both centuries, the archer wore the badge and colours of his employer, whether lord, gentry, or city. The Livery Coat or Jacket was common. These garments were made of wool or linen broadcloth, hip or thigh length, with or without collars, and half or full length sleeves, or sleeveless. The badge was sewn or embroidered on the front and sometimes the back of the garment. A white Livery Jacket with the red cross of St. George was very common in the 15th century.

The English Longbow

The English Longbow is a “self-bow”. This is a single piece of wood that is shaped and seasoned for the purpose. The wood of choice was Yew, but availability problems often required the use of Wych Elm, Elm, and Ash as substitutes. The medieval craftsmen selected the staves with great care. A master Bowyer could craft a bow in under 2 hours!

The length of the finished product was from 67 inches to 78 inches in length and up to 2 inches thick at the riser. This length was more or less fitted to the individual user. Draw weights ranged from 80 to 120 pounds. Draw length was between 29 and 32 inches, as the draw was “to the ear” or “to the breast”. The limb had horn knocks inserted to protect the limb tips and to ease stringing of the bow. There was no arrow rest on the handle, it being common to ride the arrow on the index finger.

Arrows

The English war arrow was known as the Livery, Sheaf, or Standard arrow. They had a large diameter, were cut to the legal yard, and were made from a variety of woods. Aspen, Poplar, Elder, Birch, and Willow were used for flight arrows because of their weight. Heavier woods like Ash and Hornbeam were also used, primarily because though a heavier arrow would not travel as far, it had greater penetration. Fletchings were between 7 and 9 inches, and were tied and glued to the shaft.

Materials: Bows were made from Yew, Ash, Elm, and Witch-Hazel.

Arrows were made from Ash, Oak, Birch, and were feathered with gray goose, peacock, and swan.

Bowstrings were made mostly from hemp, although Flax and even Silk was used in later times. The string was about 1/8 inch in diameter, and was constructed with either single or double looped ends

Full and skeleton gloves appear to have been common, while tabs are not to be found. Contrary to popular belief, the common quiver type was a simple belt quiver or arrow bag. In the absence of this, a common practice was to simply stuff a sheaf of arrows through the belt. The back quiver was never used in warfare.

Bibliography

Arms and Armor of the Medieval Knight: by D. Edge and J.M. Paddock

The Complete Encyclopedia of Arms and Armor: by Ed L. Tarrassuk and C. Blaire

A Glossary of the Construction, Decoration of Arms and Armor: by G.C. Stone

The Traditional Bowyer’s Bible Vols 1 and 2

Archers Digest 2nd Edition

Target Archery: by Margaret L. Klaun

The Armourer and his Craft: by C Ffoulkes

War Through the Ages: by L. Montross

History of the Art of War: by C. Oman

Medieval European Armies: by T. Wise and G. Embleton

The Armies of Agincourt: By C. Rothero

The Armies of Crecy and Poitiers: by C. Rothero

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