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Bringing the Tales and Stories of the Ancient Celts to your Fireside

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Welsh Traditions and Folklore

Welsh Costume - Welsh Traditions

Welsh Traditional Costume

Wales is a country steeped in tradition. Even the Methodist revival in the 18th century, whose stern Puritanism banished the ancient Celtic traditions, was unable to stamp out all remains of their traditions.

Today the old tales are kept alive by the Welsh speakers. There are an estimated 600,000 of them and the numbers are increasing. Traditional Welsh culture has been kept alive by the popularity of the Royal National Eisteddfod, a ceremonial gathering of musicians, poets and craftsmen.

In the late 19th century children were not encouraged to speak Welsh in school. If they did so, they were punished by having a piece of wood called a ‘Welsh Not’ hung around their neck.

Love Spoons – historic Welsh Tradition

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Updates on the early Bronze Age Dartmoor Princess finds

The excavation of a prehistoric cremation burial discovered within a cist at Whitehorse Hill on northern Dartmoor has revealed nationally important remains which have captured the interest of experts from all over the country. This was the first excavation of a burial site on Dartmoor for 100 years.

This is now considered to be the most important assemblage of prehistoric grave goods ever recovered from Dartmoor and indeed from the whole of the South West of England. The survival of the organic remains is also seen to be of international importance.

This individual, whose cremated remains were placed in a cist on this remote spot on Northern Dartmoor, over four thousand years ago, was apparently of some importance to the local community. Who was it, what was their gender, what type of animal hide was used to wrap the cremated remains? The answers to these and many other questions are part of this unfolding and fascinating story which hopefully will tell us much more about the lives of prehistoric people on Dartmoor and the landscape they lived in. 

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Update on the Drumclay Crannog excavation

A crannog is an artificial island usually built in lakes, rivers and estuarine waters of Scotland and Ireland. Crannogs were widespread in Ireland with an estimated 1200 examples. However, the Drumclay Crannog, which is an artificial island built in a lake, is the first of its type to be excavated in the North of Ireland since 1870.

The site of the crannog at Drumclay in Co. Fermanagh has been known to archaeologists since the nineteenth century. The plans for the A32 link road originally envisaged bridging the site, allowing it to be preserved in situ. The plans were changed during the course of road construction and excavation began, directed initially by Declan Hurl and subsequently by Dr Nora Bermingham.

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Where is the largest collection of Arthurian books in the UK?

In 2015, Bangor University received a large donation of rare and valuable Arthurian books from Flintshire County Council. The University reported:

Bangor University can now boast the largest collection of Arthurian books in Wales and the north of England, following an agreement with Flintshire County Council, who have donated a rare and valuable Arthurian Collection to the University’s Library and Archives.
The newly arrived collection is well suited to its new home. Bangor University has a 50 year history of significant contribution to the study of Arthurian literature. Dr Radulescu, who currently leads the Arthurian literature courses at Bangor University, is internationally renowned for her activity in shaping the field of Arthurian studies through her editorship of the Journal of the International Arthurian Society (JIAS) and the Annual Bibliography of the International Arthurian Society (BIAS); she contributes regularly to radio and TV programmes on medieval studies and the Arthurian legend and was recently interviewed on the Australian ABC national radio on this topic.

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Huge Prehistoric Religious and Ceremonial Centre Discovered

Windmill Hill Ritual Site

Windmill Hill Neolithic Causeway

A huge, prehistoric religious and ceremonial centre has been discovered near Britain’s most famous prehistoric temple Stonehenge. Its discovery is likely to transform our understanding of the early development of Stonehenge’s ancient landscape.

Ceremonial Centre Older than Stonehenge

Built about 5,650 years ago – more than 1,000 years before the great stones of Stonehenge were erected – the 200m-diameter complex is the first major early Neolithic monument to be discovered in the Stonehenge area for more than a century.

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Grainne Uaile: Irish Pirate Queen ready for release 2017

Grainne Uaille

Grainne Uaile

Basck in 2015, we announced that a film about Grainne Uaile (Grace O’Malley), the renowned Irish Pirate Queen was being made. Now, we are overjoyed to hear that it has an expected release date of early 2017! The Press Release tells us:

Early 2017 “Grainne Uaile – The movie” will be released from its ship in Ireland and sailing the festival circuits. A 3 hour epic, written and directed by Ciaron Davies and starring Fionnuala Collins as the infamous pirate queen, the movie was shot on location all over Ireland, North and south, on land and sea.

16th Century Pirate Queen

Exciting Combat Scenes

Exciting Combat Scenes

A violent and gritty retelling of the life of Grainne Uaile, the 16th century Pirate Queen from Ireland. She was a fighter, a pirate and a tough woman, carving her mark in a mans world. This exciting film is violent, dark, brutal, exciting and often darkly comic. The ultimate female action hero steeped in ancient Irish history.

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Bonfire

Oíche Shamhna Feast – An Introduction to Irish Iron Age Food

Bonfire - Iron Age Food

As a Págánacht each holy day is a time to reflect on our Iron Age ancestors and what their lives may have been like when they sat around their hearth or bonfire and celebrated their sacred times of the season.

The Iron Age Irish (700 BCE – 400CE) didn’t have the luxuries of the modern kitchen with the ceramic top stove and built in microwaves. Much of their time was spent out amongst the rest of their tribes, partaking in a three day festival of celebration and preparation for the new season. In the time of Samhain preparation was particularly important because they were at the end of the harvest period and entering the winter where food needed to be stored and cattle slaughtered for meat that would be salted and kept to sustain them through the winter.

Today, we do have the many modern luxuries afforded us by the technology we are blessed to have. There are some that may choose to celebrate this time in the way the ancestors did by breaking out their hearth fire and their cauldrons to cook. I have all the respect in the world for that practice and hope to one day be able to do it myself, but as a practical pagan in a modern world, that isn’t always feasible. My modern conveniences make my busy life much easier and I love my slow cooker, microwave and stove, so what can I do to truly connect to this time of year in a way my ancestors did? The simple answer? Food.

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Manx Litfest 2016 celebrates Celtic Stories, Myths and Fairy Tales

Manx Litfest 2016Celtic literature will be celebrated with a night of storytelling, myths and fairy tales at Peel Masonic Club on Saturday, October 1 reports isleofman.com. The festival is striving to develop a strong Celtic influence through each Litfest, and this year, they welcome two fine Celtic writers to the festival, Dr. Sharon Blackie and Kevin MacNeil. The event – Celtic Stories, Myths and Fairy Tales – is part of Manx Litfest 2016 and is being sponsored by Isle of Man satellite firm ManSat Ltd.

It will feature visiting Celtic authors Dr Sharon Blackie and Kevin MacNeil, in conversation with lecturer Dr Catriona Mackie, along with readings of myths and poetry, with some live Celtic music for good measure.

The night marks an initiative by Manx Litfest to develop a Celtic theme within each festival. Other events within the six-day Litfest, which gets underway on Tuesday, September 27, include a talk on the life and writing of Sophia Morrison (2.00pm – House of Manannan – Thursday, September 29), a writing workshop being run by Sharon (now sold out) and an event on the afternoon of Friday, September 30 when Sharon will talk about her new book, If Women Rose Rooted (2.30pm at St John’s Mill).

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Salt and Bread

The Sin-Eater: Saviour Of The Dammed

Sin Eater - The Sin-Eater: Saviour Of The Dammed

Sin-Eater

The Tradition Of The Sin-Eater

In 18th, 19th and 20th Century Scotland, England, and some Welsh communities, families placed a piece of bread on the breasts of their recently passed loved ones.

That’s not the strange part — the families then hired someone to eat the bread, believing that the practice would somehow absolve the sins of the deceased.

Where did this strange ritual come from? 

Eating food at a funeral (or shortly thereafter) is not uncommon — large family dinners often follow the death of a loved one, while drinking has been a cornerstone of wakes for centuries.

Wake - The Sin-Eater: Saviour Of The Dammed

 Funeral Wake

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Daoine Sidhe - Irish Sidhe: Their Kin and Folklore

Irish Sidhe: Their Kin and Folklore

The Irish Sidhe, relatives of Arial and Puck have a weird attractiveness for the student of Irish folklore, for many reasons and especially because the traditions connected with them explain almost all those superstitious peculiarities which are observable among the Irish people.

It is the duty of the poet to express in rhythmical periods the aerial origin of what are sometimes called `those superstitions of the Irish,’ but for us it is only left to place before our readers in round everyday prose some few of the countless happy and poetic traits peculiar to our Irish Sidhe.

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