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Archive for July, 2012

Beginning at sundown on the eve of July 31st to sundown on August 1st

The Celtic Harvest Festival – Lughnasadh – also known as Lammas – is a harvest celebration beginning at sundown on the eve of the 31st of July until sundown on August 1st and derives its name from the Irish God Lugh. In Wales, this time is known simply as Gwl Awst, the August Feast. Lugh is associated with the power of sun and light, and so fires were burned in honor of Him on this day. In addition to His associations with light, Lugh is a God of Skill and Craft, a master of all human skills. On this His feast day, it is particularly appropriate that we celebrate our own abilities and skills.

“Celtic Festival of the first fruits and ripening corn “

Lugh dedicated this Celtic festival to his foster-mother, Tailtiu, the last queen of the Fir Bolg, who died from fatigue after working and clearing a great forest so that the land could be cultivated. When the men of Ireland gathered at her death-bed, she told them to hold funeral games and celebrations in her honor. As long as they were held, she prophesied Ireland would not be without song.

Lammas (was christianized as Lammas:  the word ‘Lammas’ is an Old English word meaning ‘Loaf Mass’) celebrates the first harvesting of crops, the first of three harvest festivals.  The Earth yields up Her first gifts to us … a blessing from the Mother and the product of our human hands.  It is a time to celebrate the fruitfulness of the Earth and fruits of our labors.  We have sown and nurtured, and now we are reaping the benefits in rhythm with the Earth.  In later times, the festival of Lughnasadh, but in rural areas it was often remembered as “Bilberry Sunday,” the people would gather the earth’s freely-given gifts of black berries.  As well people sang and danced jigs and reels to the music of melodeons, fiddles and flutes, and held uproarious sporting contests and races.

Corn, grains and berries are of particular significance at this holiday (see recipes below from corn, flour and grains).  Traditionally, the newly harvested grain is made into bread to be shared with all in this celebration.  Fruits and vegetables are ripe and ready for canning and preserving.  We celebrate and partake in the fullness of the Earth while beginning to make provision for the cold months ahead.

This was also an occasion for handfasting and displaying of their skills and specialized crafts.  Through the centuries, Ireland’s country-people have celebrated the harvest at revels, wakes and country fairs. Some still continue this festival today with an entertaining manner and it is usually celebrated on the nearest Sunday to August 1st, as so that a whole day could be set aside from work.

It is a time to ask ourselves:  “What are my talents?  What are my skills?   How do I express my creativity?  How do I use my abilities to re-craft my world … to add beauty …. color … richness?  Our skills may include woodworking, designing, creating, sewing and needlecraft, art, music, dance, sports or communication, organizing, healing, parenting, problem solving etc.  Whatever our talents or abilities, this is a time to recognize them and honor them, and to share our recognition of the talents and abilities of others around us.  If you have had an interest or urge to develop a particular skill or creative outlet, now might be the time to make a pledge or commitment to yourself to pursue your interest.  By offering the fruits of our labors back to the Universe we enrich both ourselves and our world.

Because Lughnasadh is a celebration of the new harvest, people cooked special ritual foods and festive meals.  If you are curious about this historic celebration and the abundance of foods prepared, please search the internet. It is a wonderful time to celebrate the abundance we receive from mother earth and be with our special loved ones.

Lammas Traditions

Lammastide was the traditional time when craft fairs and pageants were held. Long Summer evenings are beginning to get shorter.
In Ireland Lammas is traditionally a time for buying and selling, horse trading and music.
The ‘Oul Lammas Fair’, Ireland’s oldest traditional market fair, which takes place in Ballycastle, Co Antrim on the last Monday and Tuesday in August, attracts people in their thousands at festival time.

Saint Catherine was celebrated – ‘ The Catherine Wheel’ came from the Pagan rites when a wagon wheel would be tarred, set on fire and rolled down a hill – symbolizing the decline of the Sun God as the seasos wheel turns to Autumn Equinox. If the wheel went out before it reached the bottom – poor harvest, abundant if it remained lit.

St. Ciaran’s Well, Clonmacnois, County Meath – pilgrims go with torches at midnight on the first sunday in August – looking for a trout. The sun was believed to live in holy wells during the night.

Celts erected temporary hills to celebrate the harvest festival of Lammas. In Ireland a girl would be seated on the hill-top, garlanded with flowers and proclaimed the goddess of the hill. Celts would climb hills to pray to the gods and gather bilberries at Lammas.
The raising up of Celtic crosses onto stone steps recalls the Lammas tradition – Perrons – a type of man-made holy terraced mountain.

Making of the Corn Dolly from the best ears of corn taken from the last sheaf to be harvested.
This was usually kept hanging over the hearth to bring good luck, and the seeds were added to the new seeds in the Spring.

Link: http://www.mysticfamiliar.com/library/witchcraft/lughnasadh.html
L
ink: http://www.new-age.co.uk/celtic-festivals-lammas.

HisTOURies UK
Mystical Landscape, Magical Tours

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Tour: Fri 31st Aug – Sun 2nd Sept 2012
Henges, burial mounds of all shapes and sizes, causewayed camps, early field systems and ‘cursus’ monuments are scattered everywhere in Wessex, forming a landscape which hints at its past, but whose story is unintelligible to the untrained eye.

Our experts have been introducing people to this, one of the richest prehistoric landscapes in the world, which lies on our very doorstep, since Andante’s inception.

Day One
Meet in the evening for an introductory lecture and dinner together in a local restaurant. Overnight in Sarum College in the beautiful Cathedral Close.

Day Two
By coach to Avebury for a full exploration of the huge Neolithic henge, so large that part of the village lies within it. It is one of the largest and best preserved of 1300 stone circles known in the British Isles. Morning walk around the henge and along the ceremonial Avenue.  We approach the stones of Avebury just as one would have done in prehistoric times.

Afternoon circular walk (2 hours) past Silbury Hill, the largest man-made mound in Europe.  The most famous of its excavators crawled into an earlier excavation chamber and recorded later:
“the sides of the open chamber provided one of the most astonishing sights that I have ever seen…it was clear that this innermost mound had been covered by a series of conical shells or cappings…the effect was of finding oneself in an enormously complicated and highly coloured layer cake of gigantic size..”
The walk continues to the Long Barrow at West Kennet and a chance to explore the chambered tomb within.  This kind of monument is the earliest known to have been built in Britain – in commemoration of the dead. Continue to the ‘Sanctuary’, a small, complex timber and stone circle on the top of Overton hill. Walking in our ancestors’ footsteps helps us try to understand their motives and methods.

Day Three
Stonehenge for an early (7.30am) visit inside the stone circle before the public arrives. This will be followed by a walk (2 hours) through the wider religious landscape – the cursus, King Barrows and Stonehenge Avenue.
A short drive takes us to Woodhenge, where the remains of wooden post settings have been found – now marked by concrete. From here there is a good view over the huge henge at Durrington Walls, site of exciting recent excavations which revealed the settlement which may have housed the builders of Stonehenge.

Return to Salisbury Museum for a visit to the Stonehenge and Prehistory Galleries. We have arranged a private demonstration of flint-knapping in the gardens here, which is not only much enjoyed, but adds considerably to your understanding of the way in which our prehistoric forebears were able to fashion all manner of implements and tools from our good local flint supplies.  In a world without metal technology this was a critical and highly sophisticated art.
Disperse about 5pm.

Should you choose to arrive earlier or stay later, you might like to visit Old Sarum, the hillfort to the north of Salisbury which was later chosen as the site of our first cathedral, or, of course,  our beautiful Gothic cathedral – straight in front of the College.

NB Most of every day will be spent walking, and you must be prepared for this, with suitable footwear and weatherproof clothing. You will also have to carry your own water, and negotiate a variety of stiles.

  • The original Andante Tour – accept no imitations!
  • We have been introducing guests to these monumental prehistoric landscapes for 26 years
  • Accommodation spectacularly situated within Salisbury cathedral close
  • Bring your hiking boots!
  • Several good cross-country walks

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Archaeologists have unearthed a charred stone that suggests the Mediterranean diet came to these islands during the Iron Age

Professor Mike Fulford at the dig in Silchester. The latest find is an olive stone that dates back to Iron Age Britain. Photograph: Graham Turner for the Guardian

Professor Mike Fulford at the dig in Silchester. The latest find is an olive stone that dates back to Iron Age Britain. Photograph: Graham Turner for the Guardian

Iron Age Britons were importing olives from the Mediterranean a century before the Romans arrived with their exotic tastes in food, say archaeologists who have discovered a single olive stone from an excavation of an Iron Age well at at Silchester in Hampshire.

The stone came from a layer securely dated to the first century BC, making it the earliest ever found in Britain – but since nobody ever went to the trouble of importing one olive, there must be more, rotted beyond recognition or still buried.

The stone, combined with earlier finds of seasoning herbs such as coriander, dill and celery, all previously believed to have arrived with the Romans, suggests a diet at Silchester that would be familiar in any high street pizza restaurant.

The excavators, led by Professor Mike Fulford of Reading University, also found another more poignant luxury import: the skeleton of a tiny dog, no bigger than a modern toy poodle, carefully buried, curled up as if in sleep. However it may not have met a peaceful end.

“It was fully grown, two or three years old, and thankfully showed no signs of butchery, so it wasn’t a luxury food or killed for its fur,” Fulford said. “But it was found in the foundations of a very big house we are still uncovering – 50 metres long at least – so we believe it may turn out to be the biggest Iron Age building in Britain, which must have belonged to a chief or a sub chief, a very big cheese in the town. And whether this little dog conveniently died just at the right time to be popped into the foundations, or whether it was killed as a high status offering, we cannot tell.

“The survival of the olive stone, which was partly charred, was a freak of preservation. But there must be more; we need to dig a lot more wells.”

Fulford has been leading the annual summer excavations at Silchester, which bring together hundreds of student, volunteer and professional archaeologists, for half a lifetime, and the site continues to throw up surprises. It was an important Roman town, but deliberately abandoned in the 7th century, its wells blocked up and its buildings tumbled, and never reoccupied. Apart from a few Victorian farm buildings, it is still open farmland, surrounded by the jagged remains of massive Roman walls.

Fulford now believes that the town was at its height a century before the Roman invasion in 43AD, with regularly planned, paved streets, drainage, shops, houses and workshops, trading across the continent for luxury imports of food, household goods and jewellery, enjoying a lifestyle in Britain that, previously, was believed to have arrived with the Romans.

This sodden summer have driven the archaeologists to despair, with the site a swamp of deep mud and water bubbling up in every hole and trench.

“Conditions are the worst I can ever remember. Ironically, the wells are the easiest to work in because we have the pumps running there,” Fulford said.

The tiny dog is one of dozens that the team has excavated here over the years, including one that was buried standing up as if on guard for 2,000 years. A unique knife with a startlingly realistic carving of two dogs mating was another of the spectacular finds from one of the most enigmatic sites in the country.

Visitors can observe the archaeologists’ trench warfare this weekend, when the site opens to the public as part of the national festival of archaeology, one of thousands of events across the country.

Article by: Maev Kennedy guardian.co.uk,
Full Story: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/jul/19/olive-stone-pre-roman-britain

HisTOURise UK – www.Histouries.co.uk
The Best Tours in British History –

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ARCHAEOLOGY WEEKEND

It’s the Festival of British Archaeology – this is your chance to meet a real archaeologist and to uncover artefacts from Old Sarum’s history. Enjoy a weekend for all the family with plenty of hands-on activities and crafts to keep everyone busy! Take part in a mini-dig and have a go at identifying objects lost over time.

About Old Sarum

Discover the story of the original Salisbury and take the family for a day out to Old Sarum, 2 miles north of where the city stands now. The mighty Iron Age hill fort was where the first cathedral once stood and the Romans, Normans and Saxons have all left their mark.

Today, 5,000 years of history are told through graphic interpretation panels on site. Families, heritage lovers and walkers can enjoy a great value day out at Old Sarum- you could even bring a picnic and enjoy the fantastic views across the Wiltshire countryside. The gift shop has a delicious range of ice-creams and exclusive English Heritage gifts and produce. Wooden bows and arrows are also on sale to help the kids imagine what life was like all those years ago!
DON’T MISS
The spectacular view from the ramparts at Old Sarum to the ‘new’ cathedral in the centre of Salisbury
Our interesting interpretation panels bringing 5,000 years of history to life
Old Sarum’s literary connections- you can buy some of the famous books written about the site in our shop

English Heritage: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/old-sarum/

HisTOURies UK – www.Histouries.co.uk
Mystical Landscape, Magical Tours

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Prepare for the ultimate historical adventure as over 2,000 costumed performers bring the story of England to life over one action-packed weekend14th – 15th July 2012

HIGHLIGHTS FOR 2012

Bringing over 2,000 years of history to life, Festival of History 2012 is packed full of spectacular battle re-enactments, awesome combat displays and celebrations of daily life through the ages.

MAIN ARENA

  • The 1066 Battle of Hastings (NEW!) – Sat & Sun, 12.30pm
    For the first time at Festival of History, re-live the atmosphere and tension of one of England’s most famous conflicts, and witness the making of the most famous date in our history.
  • The Battle of Stoke Field – Sat & Sun, 11am
    See the last bloody battle of the Wars of the Roses brought to life, as the Tudor age begins and Henry VII takes the English crown.
  • Drop Zone D-Day – Sat & Sun, 4pm
    We’ve a surprise in the skies to help our heroes on the ground in a World War Two battle re-enactment.
  • Prince Malik’s Lancers – Sat & Sun, 1pm
    A favourite with all the family, enjoy this truly spectacular show of unparalleled horsemanship and skill.

PARADE GROUND

  • The Roman Imperial Army – Sat & Sun, 12.15pm & 3pm
    Witness the might and power of the Roman Empire, with a trip back to the 1st century AD.
  • Medieval Joust Tournament – Sat & Sun, 2pm
    A firm favourite returning for 2012, cheer on your champion in the 15th century full-contact joust.
  • The War of 1812 (NEW!) – Sat & Sun, 11.30am
    In the year of the Bicentenary we remember the epic conflict, fought on land and sea between the new United States of America and the British Empire.
  • Victorian Gymkhana – Sat & Sun, 11am
    Watch in wonder as our elegant Ladies and Gentlemen dazzle you with displays of skill and bravery in this Victorian equestrian show

LIVING HISTORY

  • Gladiators! – Are you ready? With awesome hand-to-hand combat displays, our Gladiators keep the ferocious ancient sport alive. And there isn’t a ‘travelator’ in sight!
  • Edwardian Falconry – Marvel at the breathtaking speed and grace of falcons in flight, learn about the history of these magnificent birds of prey and their use throughout the Edwardian era.
  • First World War Music Hall (NEW!)- If the action in the main arena gets too much, escape for a good old sing song in the First World War Music Hall. (Please note that this will replace the Victorian Music Hall previously advertised.)
  • Second World War Vintage Fashion & Beauty (NEW!) – Fancy a new look? Pick up some wartime tricks and tips at these new demonstrations of fashion from the ’40s.

AND MUCH MORE!

  • First World War Trench Experience – Extended for 2012, experience what life would have been like in the Great War in the recreated First World War trench.
  • Festival of Historical Writing – Back by popular demand!
  • Family Zone – From creating giant historical street scenes in the Family Activity Tent to sandcastle building on the Victorian Beach, there’s plenty for all the family to enjoy together.

Link: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/events/foh-2012/

HisTOURies UK
The best Tours in British History

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The 2012 Circles of Knowledge Conference will take place on 14th and 15th July 2012 (with extra tours on the 13th and 16th).  Once again we will welcome crop circle and ancient knowledge enthusiasts from all over the world and bring them together in the beautiful surroundings of Marlborough College in Wiltshire.  This year the lectures will be taking plave in the modern Ellis Theatre, offering us state of the art audio and visual facilities.

There are many unknown factors to the crop circle phenomenon and under such circumstances it is best to

July 2012 Crop Circle

July 2012 Crop Circle near Avebury

stick to facts. Crop circles are happening in our reality here and now, and as the designs are imprinted in real fields in the countryside, they can be visited and studied at close hand.

Many people, several of whom live in Wiltshire full time, are actively engaged in full time research in an attempt to establish what this phenomenon is about and where it is leading us.  Since 1980 thousands of designs have been investigated and recorded in databases worldwide. This is impressive by anyone’s standard.

The Study of Crop Circles is based on facts:

  • Crop Circles exist.
  • They are found all over the world.
  • More than 6,000 have been documented since 1980.
  • Over the last twenty years analyses of thousands of plant and soil specimens from hundreds of formations worldwide have been carried out in laboratories in various countries, and most extensively in the UK and in the USA.
  • These analyses show that the cellular structure of the plants has been strongly affected and that the composition of the soil greatly altered in crop circles (man made designs exhibit no such results).
  • Their designs are based on complex geometry, ancient symbology and advanced mathematics.
  • They can be decoded.
  • The message that comes through is important for mankind at present.

HisTOURies UK
Mystical Landscape, Magical Tours 

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