The Truth About Irish Mythology

I learned something devastating last week, and it was not what I wanted to hear.

There is no such thing as Irish Mythology. It doesn’t exist.

Me last week, when I found out the truth about Irish mythology...
Me last week, when I found out the truth about Irish mythology…

Truth hurts, right? I wanted to crawl into a hole and cry. I actually want there to be some possible reality in heroes like Cuchulainn and Fionn mac Cumhall; in great ancient kings like Cormac mac Airt and Nuada of the Silver Hand, and in powerful women like Medb. I want the tales of Druids and magic and battles and tragic love to be based on some elusive fact. Not only do they help me escape from the horrors and hardships of the modern day world, but in looking back, those stories give me hope for the future: they tell us that even in dark times, there is a light in humanity that still shines. And that elusive quality, like mist drifting over still water, is what draws me in… I lost myself in that mist, and drowned in that water, and it was like swimming in wine… my favourite white sparkly kind! 😋

So what do we have, then? Those stories must come from somewhere.

What we have is a bunch of texts written during the medieval ages. Whilst they may be masterpieces in themselves, and they truly are, there is no evidence that they are anything more than the fiction of talented and imaginative medieval writers.

Think about it: those stories were written down between six and nine hundred years after the events they tell were supposed to have taken place. What did medieval scribes know about the Iron age? They had no books or writings from the peoples of that time, no archaeology to give them an insight. All they had was their imaginations.

I know what you’re thinking; what about the oral tradition these stories were copied from?

We have no evidence that such an oral tradition existed. Even if it did, and non-literate societies all have an oral tradition, so more than likely it did exist, but even so, we still have no evidence. We can make assumptions, but assumptions are not reliable, they are just guesswork.

And, as my lecturer explained, anthropological studies in non-literate communities in Africa, for example, have shown how stories from the oral tradition are subject to change, not only from one re-telling to another, or embellished in the individual style of each storyteller, but altered in quite monumental ways, from one generation to the next. If you ever played the game of Chinese Whispers as a child, you will know exactly what this means; words that are not recorded in some physical way are subject to distortion. It’s inevitable.

We cannot assume that these medieval scribes were fixing these spoken words in ink on vellum. It is quite likely that they were, but there is no evidence of that. What we have are faded manuscripts written by medieval scribes collected into ancient books preserved by subsequent generations and interpreted as history.

Even as late as the 1980s and 1990s, scholars believed that these texts offered a ‘window on the Iron age’. No one looked at them critically. But since then, a new way of thinking has developed. Archaeologists’ findings do not support the view that these medieval texts are describing the Iron age, and this has made people look more closely at the medieval writings. What they found was that these texts actually reflect medieval society; more than likely, they are commenting on their own society, but setting events in what they believe, or imagine, the Iron age to be like.

But why? Why would they do this?

Perhaps it was safer to criticize society by displacing it, and setting it in an earlier, far distant time.  Perhaps it is pure imagination, or speculation. Perhaps they wondered what Ireland was like before Christianity and civilization came and saved it. Maybe they wanted to show how tough and dangerous life was then. Maybe they just wanted to tell a good story. We just don’t know.

Maybe I should close this blog, get my coat, and go home.

But all is not lost, for I am the Guardian of Irish Mythology, remember?

In Celtic and Irish Medieval Studies at the moment, we are reading the 1st rescension of the Táin Bó Cúailnge, the Cattle Raid of Cooley, probably the most famous and well scrutinized of all tales of Irish mythology. It’s crazy-mad stuff, and I love it! I do wonder if these scribes were high on magic mushrooms when they were writing… perhaps that’s something a few of us modern writers should try. LOL!

Anyway, as you will know if you have been following this blog, Queen Medb is made out to be something of an egotistical, battle-crazed, irrational harlot who goes to war over possession of a big brown bull, just to prove a point to her husband, which is that she is just as equal as he in terms of wealth.

This story does not show women, particularly powerful ones, in a very flattering light. Medb consistently makes irrational decisions and judgements throughout the story and is rescued each time by the logic of her male companions, such as her husband, Aillil, and her lover, Fergus.

As my lecturer says, this story is designed to prove that women make bad leaders in battle, and bad Queens in general, that the female mind is incapable of strategy, logic, wisdom etc.

I don’t deny the story does this… it’s obvious. But I wonder why, in the Christian world of medieval Ireland, where women had been living a subservient and domestic role in society for hundreds of years, why was this message necessary? Women did not hold military power, and Queens were such in name only, usually through marriage. What was happening in the wider medieval period which necessitated the reinforcement of this message concerning a woman’s proper place?

Medb is given an inglorious death (click to read my post on 5 Weirdest Hero Deaths); she is killed by a cheese (yes, a cheese!) hitting her on the head while she is vulnerable and unprotected, just a weak and unaware woman bathing in a lake. A fitting end for the terrible Queen?

Could the Táin really have come from the tattered remains of a much older, perhaps popular, story after all, in which a Queen really did lead a battle? Was it taken and manipulated by medieval scribes to show that no; women make terrible leaders and should never be allowed such power? There is no evidence, so in my new guise as a student, I should not even be suggesting this. But I’m going to anyway.

The earlier part of my course focused on archaeology of the peoples labelled as ‘Celtic’ who lived in central Europe. We looked at the evidence of burials under huge mounds, particularly , at the most high status burials. Among them there are burials of women which clearly show they are of very high status indeed, equivalent to their male counterparts at the time; the burial of the ‘Princess’ at Vix, for example, and the chariot burials of women at Wetwang (video) in Yorkshire.

These are Iron age female burials, but they are not Irish Iron age female burials. However, they do indicate that some women could rise to power and hold as much wealth as men at that time.

I see no reason then to doubt that Ireland could have had its own powerful Queens during the Iron age, and if it did, undoubtedly there would have been stories circulating about her. Many of them may have been lost, perhaps deliberately, as they did not describe the ideal Christian woman. Others, such as the Táin, may have been retained, and ‘adapted’ to teach the true nature of a woman, and her proper place.

I’m just a newbie student at the beginning of my studies, but I think you know by now that I don’t just accept what I’m told, I question it. I’m quietly taking all this new information in, and digesting. The cogs are whirring, albeit loudly and rustily. I have no evidence to support that last paragraph, but I’m sure going to look for some.

By the way, scholars who believe that the medieval texts do in fact refer to the Iron age are called ‘nativists’; those who don’t are called ‘antinativists’. Apparently, people get quite passionate and heated during conferences and debates, even leading to fisticuffs! Who knew mild-mannered and studious bookish people and scholars could get so aggressive over their points of view? A little bit of the spirit of Cuchulainn still lives on in those who study him, I guess. 😂


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Knossos, Capital of Ancient Crete and the Legend of the Minotaur

“The walls of Knossos are tumbled now, long derelict and bleached by the sun like old bones. Roofed only by the sky, these once elegant rooms and cool graceful passages are still thronged with people, strangers who have come to admire what once was, a bygone era of which they have no comprehension. It is a world within a world, a fleeting glimpse into knowledge, power, artistry, skill, grandeur and mystery the like of which will never be seen again.

“I still wander there, but they pass right by me, their eyes pinned on stone, their senses unaware of that they can’t touch. Poor blind fools. I pity them. We were never like that. We knew how to live, really live.

“I am Ariadne, daughter of King Minos, Princess of Knossos, and my guilt and shame will not let me rest, even in death. For I did a terrible thing; I abandoned my family, betrayed my father and king, and slew my own brother, all for love of a man who used me and didn’t want me.

“We all did terrible things, believing ourselves omnipotent, like the Immortals. Now we have eternity in which to regret.”

******

I visited Knossos whilst I was in Crete recently. Knossos is said to be the ancient capital of Crete, home to legendary King Minos.

According to Greek myths, Minos was a fair and just ruler who received his learning from Zeus. He was the son of Zeus and a nymph named Europa. Zeus shape-shifted into the guise of a bull and abducted her, taking her to Crete, where three sons were born to them; Minos, Rhadamanthus, and Sarpedon. Later, Europa married the King of Crete, Asterios. He adopted her sons, and when he died, the oldest, Minos, inherited the throne.

Minos married Pasiphae, daughter of Helios and the nymph, Crete. They had four sons: Androgeus, Catreus, Deucalion and Glaucus, and four daughters: Ariadne, Phaedra, Xenodice, and Acalle.

One day, Minos decided to give thanks to the God Posiedon for his good fortune with an extravagant sacrifice. Posiedon sent him a magnificent white bull from the sea for this purpose, but it was so beautiful and noble, that Minos decided to keep it for himself. Furious, the God punished him by afflicting his wife, Parsiphae, with a mindless uncontrollable passion for the bull. Hmmm… sounds more like she was being unfairly punished for his misdemeanours to me.

She instructed Daedalus, a skilled craftsman, to build a wooden likeness of a cow, which she climbed inside. The bull mated with the wooden cow, and thus Parsiphae was impregnated. The resulting offspring was the Minotaur, a man with the head of a bull. Minus ordered Daedalus to build the Labyrinth and locked the monster inside.

In order to protect the identity of the Minotaur, and prevent anyone finding out the secret of the way out of the Labyrinth, Minos locked both Daedalus and his son, Icarus, inside the Labyrinth too. Later, they both escaped on wings made of wax and feathers, but Icarus flew too close to the sun. His wings melted and he fell into the sea and was drowned.

Meanwhile, Minos’s oldest son, Androgeus, went to Athens to take part in a sporting event. He won every game, much to the jealousy of the other competitors, who conspired together and murdered him. In revenge, Minos attacked and defeated Athens, and demanded tribute every nine years of seven young men and seven young women, which he sacrificed to the Minotaur by locking them in the Labyrinth to be eaten.

It was Theseus, Prince of Athens, aided by Ariadne, Minos’s own daughter, who later killed the Monotaur, thus ending the tribute. Furious beyond reason, Minos sought retribution by chasing Daedalus, who had taken refuge with the King of Sicily. Minos was killed by the King’s daughters, who poured boiling water on him as he was taking a bath. What a way to go!

The legends of Minos and his family are many, and I can’t tell them all here. Whether he really existed, or is just a figment of some ancient poet’s imagination cannot be known, but certainly the Minoan civilisation flourished during the Bronze Age, between 3300BC and 1000BC.

What amazes me is that people could emerge from the Neolithic (stone) Age, building such masterful and magnificent, sophisticated complex dwellings as the palace at Knossos. It had plumbing and flushing toilets, for goodness sake! Neolithic man was still building simple mud huts on stone foundations with clay floors, or living in caves, and only acquired the skill of metal working between 3800 and 3300BC. It kind of beggars belief, really.

Nowadays, the remains of the palace and city lie in the foothills, surrounded by shady scented pines which dance in the breeze. The site is vast, covering 6 acres, and the palace complex contained a theatre, 1300 rooms including royal apartments, extensive store rooms, and a plethora of workrooms for craftsmen.

It had three separate water management systems, one for supply, one for run-off (torrential rains) and one for removing waste water. It also had a ventilation system of porticoes and air vents. The walls were covered with colourful paintings called frescoes.

Interestingly, it has been suggested that the stone throne in the throne room was carved to fit the buttocks of a female, rather than a man! Also, there were many figurines of women found among the ruins, some holding snakes, suggesting priestesses of a snake cult. According to Wikipedia, ‘Minos’ is the Cretan word for ‘king’, and therefore it may just have been a title, rather than a name. It also suggests that royal succession in Crete passed from mother to daughter, her husband becoming the ‘minos’, or warrior-chieftain.

I would have to look into this; certainly the Greek versions of the stories bear no references to female power. As with the Romans, women were considered chattels and possessions, the keeper of domesticity and child-rearing. But it all reminds me of legends closer to home; the Irish tarb-fheis, or bull feast; the milk white cattle of the Danann; the cattle raid of Cooley, the many women of power in Irish myths, and the snakes that St Patrick was so keen to ban from Ireland.

There are also connections with the Sanskrit, which caught my attention. For example, the name of the main god listed on tablets found at the site, Asirai, is said to be the equivalent of Sanskrit Azura. The name mwi-nu (Minos) is thought to come from the Sanskrit muni,  meaning ‘ascetic’, with reference to the legend of Minos sometimes living in caves. It’s all speculation, but intriguing nonetheless.

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I hope you have enjoyed my little foray into Cretan mythology. Next week, we return to Irish soil, with a post about Aonbharr of the Flowing Mane, the sea-god Manannán’s famous white horse, who pops up in many myths and legends of Ireland.

To my blogging friends, an apology; you won’t notice me around so much over the next few months, as I have several projects on the go at the minute which require more of my attention. That means no more writing challenges for a while, no matter how much I love them, fewer posts, and less of a presence on social media. I will try and keep up with your blogging as much as I can, but it might not be as much as before. Hope you all have a lovely summer!


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The White Horse in Irish Mythology

The White Horse in Irish Mythology www.aliisaacstoryteller.com
The White Horse in Irish Mythology
http://www.aliisaacstoryteller.com

This post was inspired by an interesting twittercon with @Huk_fin about the role of the white stallion in ancient kingship rituals.

Geraldus Cambrensis (Gerald of Wales, 1146-1223, Archdeacon of Brecon) wrote in his Topographia Hibernica (Topography of Ireland, 1187) of a ceremony among the Irish:

“There is in a northern and remote part of Ulster, among the Kenelcunil, a certain tribe which is wont to install a king over itself by an excessively savage and abominable ritual. In the presence of all the people of this land in one place, a white mare is brought into their midst. Thereupon he who is to be elevated, not to a prince but to a beast, not to a king but to an outlaw, steps forward in beastly fashion and exhibits his bestiality.

“Right thereafter the mare is killed and boiled piecemeal in water, and in the same water a bath is prepared for him. He gets into the bath and eats of the flesh that is brought to him, with his people standing around and sharing it with him. He also imbibes the broth in which he is bathed, not from any vessel, nor with his hand, but only with his mouth.

“When this is done right according to such unrighteous ritual, his rule and sovereignty are consecrated.”

Although we have to accept that the values of ancient civilisations may have differed from our own, this does sound particularly brutal and hideous, doesn’t it?

In fact, Gerald of Wales was known for his dislike of the Irish, and for his habit of wandering into the realms of fantasy, at times. In this instance, it’s not clear if this was something he actually observed, or he was just repeating a a folktale which he felt adequately expressed the savagery of the native Irish.

For example, he also claimed that he had never seen so many blind or deformed people as he saw in Ireland, and that it was their depravity and heathen ways which had manifested in physical deformity as punishment by God.

Judging by the aggressive language he displays in the above excerpt, his feelings towards the pagan Irish are quite clear. It seems to me that this piece can only be taken as nothing more than Christian propaganda.

But where, then, could the idea of mating with a white mare and then eating it have come from? No smoke without fire, right? You’ve probably read that statement before on this very blog.

Well, the similarity between Irish myth and Vedic teachings has been commented on by many. These Proto-Ind0-European (PIE) people lived in the late Neolithic period, and spoke a common language, now lost to us. It is from this common ancient source that our cultures are believed to derive.

The Vedic ceremony known as Ashvamedha involved the sacrifice of a white stallion, a hornless ram, and a billy goat in order to inaugurate a warrior. The Romans sacrificed a white stallion to their God of War, Mars, and interestingly, used the same method of selection as as the Vedic; the chosen stallion was the right-hand horse of the winning pair in a chariot race. Portions of the sacrifice would then be distributed amongst the deities.

Archaeology has frequently unearthed horse burials accompanying the remains of humans all around the world, from early prehistoric times through to the late Iron Age. Sometimes, these were accompanied by the burial of chariots, too. Clearly, this indicates the importance ancient people placed on their horses.

In Ireland, it was common practice during late Medieval times to bury horse skulls under the floor of new buildings to bring the occupants good luck. You can read about these discoveries on Irish Archaeology. Sadly, the reasoning behind such superstitious acts has long been lost.

In Irish mythology, the Tarbfeis is often mentioned as a Kingship ritual, in which a bull is slaughtered, and a Druid wrapped in the skin while he makes a prophesy regarding the selection of the future King.

The High King was considered sacred, as he was required to ‘marry’ the Sovereignty Goddess, be free from blemish, follow particular rules and protocols, and avoid his symbolic geasa (taboos).

Marry may be a bit of a loose term here; relationships between men and women prior to Christian times were quite fluid, with both parties moving between marriage, divorce, and lovers without guilt or shame.

Life was about survival;  fertility, of the land, of plants, animals and of the people themselves, was considered vital, and revered. Perhaps in this light, intercourse would be a more accurate word.

Similarly, the relationship with the Goddess of Sovereignty is of interest. Who was she, exactly? Many names are put forward: Eriu, of the three Queens of Ireland killed in the invasion of the Milesians, and after whom Ireland (Eire) was named; Danu, the supposed mother Goddess of the Danann; the Morrigan, and even Queen Medb of Connacht.

Another suggestion is Macha. She was the wife of King Nuada who led the Tuatha de Danann into Ireland. She was said to have died fighting the Fomori Giant-King Balor in defence of her husband at the Second Battle of Moytura. However, there is another Macha from Ulster who was forced to race against horses during her late pregnancy, and who died in childbirth shortly after winning.

In some stories, it is said it was she who gifted Cuchulainn with his two great chariot horses, Liath Macha (grey of Macha) and Dub Sainglend (black of Saingliu), although in others, it was said to be the Connacht Queen, Medb.

In any case, she has thus been linked with horses, and as a horse Goddess, is seen to be synonymous with Epona (the Great Mare), Celtic European protectress of horses and a fertility goddess,  and Rhiannon, Welsh goddess also strongly associated with mares and foals.

The sacred marriage between the King and the sovereignty Goddess existed in many ancient cultures. In Sumerian lore, for example, the King mated with the Goddess Inanna’s priestess. The white mare in Gerald’s story may well have represented the fertility and sovereignty goddess, Macha.

I might also add at this point, that perhaps the coupling between the King and the horse represented something else. Perhaps it was more spiritual than physical. In shamanism, a white horse will often guide the shaman on his journey into the Otherworld. The white horse, seen as a symbol of purity and spirituality by the Celts, could have been a totem animal, and the coupling a misinterpretation of the bonding or union between them.

In Irish mythology, the white horse is mentioned often. The well known story of Oisin and Niamh of the Golden Hair tells how she arrives from the Otherworld carried by a white horse, declares her love for Oisin, and asks him to return there with her. After some deliberation, Oisin agrees, leaps up onto the back of the horse with her, and they gallop off together.

Aonbhar of the Flowing Mane was a white horse belonging to the Sea-God Manannán. He was said to have been able to travel across water as if it were solid ground. As Manannán is thought to be Niamh’s father, it is quite likely Aonbharr she rode to meet Oisin.

Similarly, when Cliodhna fell in love with Ciabhán, she appeared on a white horse from over the sea. In some stories, Manannán is given as her father, in others, her father is the Sea-God’s Druid. In any case, it seems she may have borrowed/ stolen Aonbharr to meet with her lover.

Cliodhna’s Wave is one of my favourite Irish myth stories. I leave you with a small excerpt from my retelling of it in mine and Jane’s book, Grá mo Chroí, Love of my Heart, Love Stories from Irish Myth.


“Come away with me to my Dun. I will protect you.”

She turned to him then, sadness tugging at the small smile which curved her lips. “Your eagerness gladdens my soul, but you cannot defend me against Gebann and Manannán. No one can. Besides, I would receive no welcome from your mortal kin. I must go back to the lands over the sea, to Tir Tairngire, the Land of Promise, my home. No mortal may follow me there.”

She got to her feet, and gave a shrill whistle. The roar of the ocean became the pounding of hooves, the mournful cry of seabirds traded for a wild equine whinny, and out of the foaming surf thundered ghostly Aonbhar, a giant among horses. His eyes were azure blue, his hooves gleamed gold, and his proud white tail swept the sand like a pennant.

Warily, Ciabhán eyed the creature as he cantered over the pebbles towards them, pulling up short and rearing skywards. He dropped back to earth with a snort and waited, his nostrils flaring pink.

Cliodhna ran her hand over the horse’s neck and shoulder, then grabbed a handful of shaggy mane and performed the steed-leap onto his back, a feat Ciabhán had only ever seen carried out by warriors.

She gazed down at him. “Manannán will be furious when he finds I have stolen Aonbhar to keep a tryst with a mortal man,” she murmured. “But being loved by you is worth the consequences.”

As Aonbhar turned towards the sea, Ciabhan darted forward with a cry, leaping up and catching hold of his lover’s hands as they rested in her mount’s mane. “Wait! Will I see you again?”

She sighed. “I will come when I can. But Manannán and my father will be watching me closely on my return. It may be sometime before we can be together again.”

He let his hands drop to his side. “Better to have never loved at all, than to have tasted its sweetness so briefly.”

Cliodhna kicked Aonbhar forward, her eyes beseeching. “I must go. The wrath of Manannán is not something I would have brought upon you. Please forgive me.”

The great steed gathered his strength and launched himself from the shore, plunging below the sea one moment, then leaping above it the next, springing nimbly from wave to wave, the surface of the water solid as the earth beneath his hooves. Cliodhna clung to his back, her golden hair streaming behind her. She never looked back. It only took moments for Aonbhar to carry her from his view.


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Look what came in the post today!

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The Imbolc edition of Bridgid’s Fire magazine… and I made the cover! This is my first ever article for a print edition of a magazine, and local friends please note; it features a local story, which most people have probably never heard of, so you might enjoy it!

You can download a digital copy here for the bargain price of only €2.90.

Loughanleagh | Co Cavan’s Well of Healing

The stone circle at Loughanleagh.
The stone circle at Loughanleagh.

On New Year’s Day, my lovely friend Jenni and I braved the howling wind and downpour for what has become our traditional annual exploration of what Co Cavan has to offer… and there’s a whole lot more than you might think. I can’t understand why this beautiful historic county is so undervalued in terms of tourism. But that is a post for another day.

Loughanleagh lies a touch beyond Bailieborough on it’s Kingscourt side. Its name comes from the Irish Lough an Leighiswhich means ‘Lake of Cures’. This lake was renowned for the curative effect of its mud on skin complaints, and in days gone by, during the last two Sundays of July, people used to come in their thousands, seeking healing in the water.

It was said that the lake had magical properties, for its water level never rose or fell; that the water was deep but that there was no evident source; that there was no stream which drained from it; that the sun never danced on its surface; that it’s temperature never fluctuated, even in the most extreme weather conditions, and that it had never frozen.

Unfortunately, the lake no longer exists; years of sustained turf cutting has drained the water from its bed, but the memory of its power, and the associated legends linger on.

Adrian's Way, Loughanleagh
Adrian’s Way, Loughanleagh

We walked the path known as Adrian’s Way. This route is 7km long, ascends and descends quite steeply in places, takes in exposed tops and woodland, passes the sites of three ancient cairns, and affords fine views over thirteen counties… during finer weather.

According to folklore, the cairns were formed when an old woman known as the Cailleagh was carrying stones in her apron. She dropped some at Loughanleagh and also at Loughcrew, thus the ancient burial mounds were formed.

This character is thought to be a representation of the Morrigan. Like many female Irish deities, she was said to have had three aspects which corresponded with the cycle of her life; the maiden, the mother and the crone, or Cailleagh.

She was said to have once had a battle with St Patrick at Loughanleagh whilst he was preaching mass there. She approached in the form of a beautiful woman riding in a carriage. As she neared the congregation, she snatched a handful of berries from a roadside shrub (they were possibly bilberries, as they grow in abundance at Loughanleagh).

On eating them, she was transformed into a horrible monster, whereupon she immediately set about devouring people. St Patrick dropped to one knee and whacked her with his staff. She immediately exploded in a shower of tiny pieces.

There is a very well defined cup mark in a rock in the centre of a stone circle (more of a horse-shoe, really) near the spot where St Patrick vanquished this monstrosity. This is said to be the imprint of his saintly knee, as he knelt to deal the deadly deed.

It is well known in Irish mythology that through water lies the way to the Otherworld, also known as Manannán’s Land. This was also true of Loughanleagh, for according to legend, it was used as a gateway between worlds by a large fairy hare with one red eye in the middle of its forehead.

You can find out more about Loughanleagh on this website, and if you are ever heading in this direction, I highly recommend a visit… you’ll be glad that you did.

Army Assists With Study of Anglo-Saxon Sword – Archaeology Magazine

Following on with this weeks theme of the Celtic Forge, I just came across this article which I thought may be of interest. This is more of an early medieval sword, so not quite so early, but still fascinating for demonstrating how techniques evolved with time.

 

Army Assists With Study of Anglo-Saxon Sword – Archaeology Magazine.

Where Do You Go To See The Book of Kells?

Image from Boyne Valley Tours. I know it looks flat, but it's actually a big hill!
Image from Boyne Valley Tours. I know it looks flat, but it’s actually a big hill!

Answer: Not Kells!

Sadly, you have to go all the way to Dublin to see this famous manuscript, which now resides in the library at Trinity College. The famous Book Of Kells is an illuminated manuscript of the four gospels of the New Testament written in Latin and highly decorated, it really is a work of art. It is believed to have been written around 800BC by Columban monks from Iona, and is named after the town of Kells because it was kept at the abbey there for many centuries.

Despair not, my friends, because you don’t have to go all the way to Dublin to view this masterpiece, oh no! For through the wonders of modern technology you can view it in its entirety right here on aliisaacstoryteller… I give you… The Book of Kells!  Continue reading