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Sunday, 1 February 2015

IMBOLC,BRIDGET & TARA BOY



Today is February first, the Feast of Imbolc, one of the four Cross Quarter Days. One of the major 'celtic' festivals, it seems, like the other three, to potentially have much older roots. Even the name has a certain primal ring, with the meaning of 'bag', perhaps refering to a 'pregnant belly' as in livestock giving birth (it is often called the Feast of Lambing; however in Scotland, because of the bleakness of the time of the year, it is also known as Death-Month.)
  Of couse Imbolc is sacred to Brighid, first the triadic goddess, and then the Saint, whose cross is the lightning/fire 'swastica' symbol found from bronze Ireland and Britain to prehistoric India.A goddess of the sacred fire, she was also associated with smithying--interesting to find a female deity connected what is traditionally seen as a male craft.
   The saint Brighid, whose cult became firmly entangled with that of the pagan goddess, has a fascinating story to do with her skull, which was carried in 1283 to Portugal  and venerated there. Apparently the Portuguese also took to the Irish saint and honoured her with a rather pagan rite which carried on into fairly modern times--they would drive white cattle in front of her skull on her Feast Day for purification.
  As  for the oldest roots of Imbolc, they appear to be neolithic. Cairn L at Loughcrew seems to have an alignment to both Imbolc and Samhain. More famously, The Mound of the Hostages at Tara also has an alignment to the rising sun at both quarter days.
   The Mound of the Hostages famously figures in many mythological tales, and sits at the heart of the Tara complex, a bridge between the world of the living Kings of Ireland and the world of the Dead Ancestors from the Time Before. As with other passage graves, it contains an array of art, circles and spirals and x-markings.It has an exceptional amount of burials in it for a passage grave, potentially over 200. Approximately  40 have been excavated, and the upper parts of the mound continued to be used for burial into the following bronze age, showing a certain continuity.
   Perhaps the most famous burial there is that of Tara Boy, a young man buried somewhere around 1700 BC in the mound itself. He was buried, in the usual crouched position,  with a variety of trade goods, most famously a composite necklace of faience beads, amber, jet and a bronze bead. At one time the faience was believed to be from Egypt, but new analysis has discounted this idea; however, new study on Tara Boy has shown that he was probably not a local...he could be from the West or Ireland, or potentially western Britain or the western Seaboard from France down to Portugal.  Tara Boy  died at around 14, a short (only 5 ft tall) and very stocky individual who must have had high status despite his youth. (As it is impossible to 100% sex adolescents without dna, there is some chance chance 'he' is female, especially as some of the  gravegoods are more commonly found in female graves...however, the heavy robustness of the bones and shape of the the sciatic notch indicate a male. Tests are ongoing.)
   However, thought Egypt is out of the question for his necklace, Wessex, especially the the area near Stonehenge, is not. Very similar faience beads are found there, as well as bronze or gold coated beads and jet. His other grave goods, a possible awl or razor and a small copper-alloy blade, are also commonly found in graves near to Stonehenge.  So, although he was not from the chalklands near the Henge, he may have visited them or even had ancestry from that area.
   Interestingly, when I was writing MOON LORD, second novel in my Stonehenge saga, I was going to have the character Gal'havad, who died at Newgrange, be buried in the Mound of the Hostages, in a creative re-imagining of the Tara Boy burial. Instead, I had his father Ardhu carry his cremated remains back to Wessex for interment there. Reading about this young elite male burial, who may have indeed had ties with the ancient cultures of Wessex, I wish now that I had gone with my initial idea!

Skull of St Bridget in Portugal
MOON LORD LINK TO AMAZON


Saturday, 24 January 2015

800 Years Of Human Sacrifice In Kent

800 Years Of Human Sacrifice In Kent



Interesting article about possible late bronze age sacrifice  on the Isle of Thanet. Thanet had been traditionally known as an 'Isle of the Dead' and has many barrows. A possible original name is Tan-Ard, the High Fire (s), perhaps suggesting rituals. What is particularly interesting about the site is the variety of origins for the people living there. Native Britons mingled with Scandinavians and people from the Mediterranean

Saturday, 20 December 2014

RACTON MAN: WARRIOR OF THE WASTELAND

The news was full of information on a Beaker Era burial the other day...Racton Man. Found nearly 30 years ago, his importance only came to the fore after new analysis had been done on his remains and on the unusual rivetted dagger buried with him.
 Racton man lived between 2100 BC- and 2300 BC, the 'Beaker' period and the era when the last re-arrangements to Stonehenge were being  made, with the Bluestones being reshuffled into an approximation of their current positions (at least one notable thinks one or two stones could have been fiddled with in the Romano-British period.). It is also the time the Stonehenge Archer was buried in the terminal of the ditch, a young man of  about 24 with his back pierced by many arrows, fired from different directions, each finding their mark...almost as this had been no chance shooting but something that deliberately involved many--an 'overkill.'
   Racton man, living in Sussex, was a 'big man' in every way, whoever he was. He was 6 foot tall and sturdily built and he had outlived most of his fellows, being over 45 years of age. (This left him with the unfortunate side of EBA life--chronic toothache from worn teeth/caries and backache from arthritis/degeneration that was common in almost everyone in the period. He also had a chronic sinus infection that would doubtless have given him annoying nasal congestion and cracking headaches!)
  Although he didn't have the mutiple beakers of the earlier Amesbury Archer, his gold hair tresses, or his masses of archery equipment, Racton Man's  knife was extraordinary. Longer than most of the others appearing at this period, analysis has shown that it was not the usual copper...it was mixed with Cornish tin...it was bronze. The bronze age proper, the heroic age of ancient Britain, had begun. It was also rivetted in an unusual way, which, apparently, would have been very diffuclt to accomplish; piercing with stones or metals does not seem to be able to adequately make the rivet-hole.
   There is some confusion over his origins--some reports saying his isotopic signatures showing he was from southern England, others that there was an chance he came from Cornwall or Brittany, even the outside chance he was from Ireland. (I will keep my ear to the ground on this point for further confirmation.) It would be interesting if they could test DNA samples as well, should the dna be viable. In Germany, tests of several Beaker Males have shown an abundance of y-Dna R1b (of the 'Atlantic' type rather than the 'Germanic' kind.) This is the most common type of male DNA  in all the British Isles today, as well as much of western/northwestern Europe. seemingly replacing or becoming dominant over the older G and I, despite the fact the Beaker migration was relatively small, though influential...it was certainly not the 'invasion' of metal-wielding genocidal warriors touted by some pre-50's archaeology books! Possibly it was the old story...these 'big men' with their great height, glittery hair tresses, metal daggers and 'cult of the individual' appealed to the local women! They were the 'rock stars' of prehistoric Britain and ended up producing the most surviving children..
   However, it was a hard life, and one thing I endeavoured to show in my novels, which did not go down very well in some quarters, was that it could be a violent and unpredictable time. Like our Stonehenge Archer, the tall man from Racton suffered a severe injury inflicted by another person or persons, which led to his death. He had taken a serious injury to one arm inflicted by a sharp impliment (described as a sword, but would have been a dagger doubtless similar to the one he carried), which would have caused massive and fatal bleeding. He also showed signs of having suffered another stab wound in life, from which he had recovered.
   It will be interesting to see if new technologies find us any more 'dagger princes'; with recent finds of an Irish style lunula in Dorset, tin beads in a rich female buurial on Dartmoor, and Wessex style implements in a grave in Scotland, it is clear to see this bronze age world has greater cultural contacts, and more wealth, than was ever imagined. Gone, certainly, are the days when we believed the ancient Britons, on their mist-shrouded isles, were isolated poor cousins to those on the continent.



http://www.amazon.co.uk/Stone-Lord-Legend-Arthur-Stonehenge-ebook/dp/B009XTYEJW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1419078373&sr=8-1&keywords=stone+lord

Thursday, 30 October 2014

The Stonehenge Saga by J.P Reedman - A reimagining of the Arthurian legend in Bronze Age Britain

J.P. Reedman, inside Cairn L, Loughcrew Cairns, Southern Ireland.Early 2000's
HAPPY SAMHAIN/ HALLOWEEN TO ALL!

Cairn L is one of the cairns in the Loughcrew complex, dating approx 3000 B.C.. It has megalithic art and, a rarity, a tall thin standing stone in the chamber. There seems to be an alignment on Samhain sunrise. Cremated remains were placed in a huge stone basin as at Newgrange and other Irish passage graves.
Unfortunately at the moment the landowner no longer allows access to the cairn.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

SAVE STONEHENGE WHS - BAD NEWS FOR 8,000YEARS OF ARCHAEOLOGY


The Stonehenge short tunnel is all but a done deal unless EH/NT pull it back from the brink, and no matter what length of tunnel is agreed it is likely the east entrance will be projected between the Stonehenge Avenue and Vespasian's Camp
Aside from the aesthetics the hydrological changes will have serious implications for Blick Mead... think about what this means for the chances of preserving or recovering anything connected with that site!




Monday, 27 October 2014

The Works of J.P Reedman, Historical Fantasy Writer

Click below to view my range of books, from prehistory to folklore, historical fiction and poetry.

Thank you for dropping by.




Monday, 20 October 2014

8thC Anglo Saxon Poem - Oldest reference to Stonehenge, the Blick Mead Spring, also featured in Stone Lord

http://www.salisburyjournal.co.uk/news/11546570.Is_eighth_century_poem_about_Stonehenge_/

We had the pleasure to attend a last-minute talk by Dr Graeme Davis from the University of Buckingham last night on his new translation of The Ruin, an anglo-saxon poem contained in The Exeter Book.

Commonly mis-attributed(?) to the city of Bath, the lucid description appears to provide perhaps the oldest known mention to Stonehenge, with its lintels fallen, it's red stone and lichen, its white chalked bank & ditches, aptly named "The Old Ones."

Also mentioned is a nearby spring. Is this Blick Mead, at Vespasians Camp?

It was during the years as a member of the team looking at the Spring, that provided me with the idea to write a prehistoric novel centred around the area of Stonehenge. I had noted that there were few modern novels that had been able to bridge the gap between archaeology and fiction, that provided the reader of a realistic vision of the henge and its environs, that gave the people names and a function.

Vespasians Camp, of which not much is known, is a large 15hectare fortified hill commanding an imposing view at the elbow of the River Avon, 1 mile from Stonehenge, from its extensive western ramparts, looking out over Kings Barrow Ridge to the henge on the other side.
Bluestonehenge or West Amesbury Henge is less than 1/4 mile down stream, which includes further mesolithic activity. It's from this "holy" mother mound that gave birth later to all the other monuments in the landscape, of which Stonehenge is the dominant one.

Neglected and missed by archaeologists like Hawley, Atkinson & Parker Pearson, it was during a recent talk by Josh Pollard that further reinforced the camp as perhaps being Stonehenge's version of Silbury Hill.
Most prehistoric landscapes contain a holy hill, a spot of first creation, usually on the spot of a spring.
Avebury has Silbury. Marden had the Hatfield Barrow. Stonehenge is missing one - no more.

In the STONE LORD series, I not only site Vespasians Camp as Ardhu's main encampment, standing silent guardian over Stonehenge and Durrington, but mention the pool as the sacred lake where Ardhu gets his bronze sword from the Lady of the Lake (based on the body of an anglo saxon woman buried on an islet in Lake village, 3 miles into the Woodford Valley) Vespasians Camp would have been almost an island at certain times of the year. Stonehenge became The Round Table, a place that Mike Parker Pearson notes as being "a place of unity" of many different cultures.

(The name Vespasian’s Camp  originates from the 18th century antiquarian William Camden although personally I do prefer the name Lady Antrobus referred to it by in her article in the  1 March 1902 edition of Country Life, ‘Mount Ambrosius’ , profoundly hinting at the possible true significance this chalk hill played in the earliest founding days of the British nation and  not far removed from Geoffrey of Monmouth's  ‘Hill of Ambrius’ )

Birthplace of UK history

STONE LORD and MOON LORD Available in Kindle and Print

You can also buy signed copies of both books at:
- STONEHENGE VISITORS CENTRE
- THE HENGE SHOP IN AVEBURY STONE CIRCLE
- GOTHIC IMAGE IN GLASTONBURY HIGH STREET




Tuesday, 30 September 2014

THE LAND OF FAERIE AND OTHER DARK TALES. An Anthology by J.P Reedman.

AN ALL NEW SERIES OF MY SHORT HIGH FANTASY WORKS FROM THE LAST TWO DECADES. MOST HAVE UNDERGONE REVISION AND THERE ARE SOME NEW ONES TOO.
LET ME KNOW WHAT YOU THINK.





FABLES OF THE FAE is a collection of short fantasy stories and poetry with an emphasis on the denizens of the celtic faerie realm. Old Gods returned to earth, lost Sidhe yearning for home, sinister dark elves manipulating mortals, strange guardian sprites who seek to mingle with mortal men. Haunting and strange, sometimes of hideous ugliness, other times shining with great beauty--the realm of the Fae.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Man killed by arrows at Stonehenge. Ritual sacrifice?

I was prompted to do another post here following the second-part of BBC2's excellent "OPERATION STONEHENGE" which outlines the many fascinating new discoveries made over the last year or two as part of the HIDDEN LANDSCAPES PROJECT.

This weeks programme shows a vivid re enactment of the life and death of the so-named "Stonehenge archer" a young man from the time the monument was in full swing. He was found in late 70's in the bank and ditch of the monument. Upon investigation, it had been found that he had been shot multiple times by arrows before being given a shallow burial.


I described a very similar ritualistic death scene in Moon Lord, based upon this much over looked burial, now in The Salisbury Museum.
I was prompted to release here another excerpt from Book Two of my Stonehenge Saga. So, here it is for you.

Mordraed craned his head toward the noise of the horses. He could see the dim shapes of men entering the stones…saw daggers drawn and bows with barbed arrows on the string. Ardhu’s warriors!
     Releasing Ardhu, he started to crawl on all fours toward the entrance of Khor Ghor, toward the Watchers and the Stone of Summer…toward the ghost Moon, the blessed Mother Moon to which he was sworn, as it soared higher into the night-time sky.
    Instinctively his hand went to the hilt of Carnwennan, pulling it free of his flesh; blood flowed with renewed intensity and he stared at it, streaking down his legs, covering his hands, shining in the bitter Moon-light.
     His life, slipping away, feeding chalk and stones and Ancestral bones buried deep beneath him.
    Coldness seeped through his limbs, a strange tingling; he struggled to breathe. An iron taste hung in his mouth and he felt something wet on his lips that was not saliva.
   Behind him he could hear shouts from Ardhu’s warriors, knew that they were preparing to leap upon him, to rend him limb from limb with their axes and daggers. They would take his head, they would take his heart; his pieces would be scattered on the plain and his spirit would never rest. An ignominious death, devoid of honour. A traitor’s death.
      He heard Ardhu’s voice rise, shaking, hoarse, as if from a great distance. “Men…finish him! But not with your blades. Give him to the Circle in the old way of our ancient forebears, to atone for his crimes against the Ancestors. Give him to the Circle that his spirit might be trapped here for eternity, guarding what he has tried to destroy.”
    Mordraed halted, mid-crawl. Behind him he could hear footsteps, heavy breathing.
    He knew what his fate would be now…both relief and a curse.
     Drawing himself up onto his knees through his pain, he flung his arms open wide in token of his submission and looked up toward the ascending Moon, the bone-white eye of She-Who-Guards, the Protectress of the Dead. On the pitted surface he swore he could see the face of Morigau gazing down at him, filled with love and hate and pride and mockery…
      Three arrows flew. Three arrows struck.
    One hit Mordraed’s breastbone and then glanced aside into his heart.
     Mordraed fell face first on the ground, arms still outstretched, and the men of Ardhu’s warband took his body by the arms and dragged it to the terminal of the henge-ditch near Heulstone, where they dug a hasty pit. They threw the corpse in with little care, taking his weapons as trophies but leaving his archer’s wristguard because he was a man of high status. They placed shards of bluestone around him, to bind his spirit with the power of the sacred Stones, then covered the crouched body with chalk and spoil and debris.

Friday, 22 August 2014

The Stonehenge Saga : What next?

I hope as a visitor to this site you find that the information contained in it is of use and inspires you to investigate either your own sacred landscape, or that of Stonehenge & Avebury, where I have been lucky enough to not only live these past 7 years, but study on and off since 1984.


I was inspired to write The Stonehenge Saga, comprising of STONE LORD & MOON LORD after living,breathing, walking and working in its landscape. This often involved helping on excavations locally and being in the position to interpret & guide visitors around the wonderful monument of Stonehenge.

I have received wonderful feedback from readers and peer reviews from academics in the field citing that the books (albeit being a work of fiction) nevertheless pay a lot of respect and attention to archaeological detail.

This was one of the main reasons for writing this book. I wanted to bring the landscape alive as it had never been done before, literary speaking. To put flesh on to the bones of the people that built, used, and existed on those chalk downlands 5,000 years ago.

Anyone wanting to know about Stonehenge faces sometimes impenetrable scholarly text books & journals, but often the reverse -  pseudo intelligent astronomical mathematics which leaves you cold and tells you nothing about the people, or that which misrepresents those people in the case of new age, airy-fairy beliefs that pay no heed to any of its physical archaeology.


Save for a handful of novels, the most well known is Bernard Cornwell's Stonehenge. Most novels about the stones have always depicted ancient Britain as a primitive backwater, at the same time that fantastic achievements were going on elsewhere in the Middle and Near East, I've always fought that the British Megalithic Culture of the Neolithic & Bronze Age easily rivals Troy, and anything else going on in the world at that time. I've tried to highlight this in Blog posts here.

Cornwell's novel was excellent, but it had its flaws, notably not the same kind of access to information as I've been able to research. Not quite that same feeling for landscape either, that only a person living there could experience. Also that it was written before a  lot of the new studies were completed, namely the excellent work of Parker Pearson, Gaffney, Jacques, Darvill & Pollard, to name but a few.


Stone Lord was/is my first "baby," but as an author you also cannot hold on too long. You need to keep moving on and above all, keep writing. So, after these two full length novels I've dabbled with writing short stories inspired by my love of European Folk Tales, with Robin Hood, resurrected a few early forays into the British Prehistory, and set about tackling the divine kingship of King Richard III
Most recently, I've published a short anthology of Richard related short stories and poetry, called "Tales of the White Boar" click here for details.

A full list of my published works to date are available here.

The Stonehenge Saga will not be my final work involving the Stonehenge area.
I hope to write a fictional account of the journey of the Amesbury Archer; one of the oldest known, and richest early metal workers to be found in Britain. Also a piece on Amesbury's Queen - Eleanor of Provence, of which very little seems to be known (even her exact grave site is unknown and remains to be found) I want to do something with the Irish Sagas too in a new and interesting way, similar to Stone Lord.

I hope to also combine Stone Lord and Moon Lord into an Omnibus Edition, replete with new cover, and a few new chapters (perhaps containing a prequel.)

If you want to follow my activities better, I can be contacted on Facebook and I'm also on Twitter
There are Facebook Groups for Stone Lord and for Sacred King. I hope you can stop by and "Like" the pages.


As ever, thank you for your continued interest and support.


Yours,

J.P.R