salvianus: (Medieval)
The previews of the new Camelot put a smile on my face.

Click for mild Spoilers )

I needed a good laugh ;-)
salvianus: (Top man)
It was a week I began facing an overwhelming mountain of doubt, fear and difficulty. My girl helped me to write down the list of obstacles and problems. One by one we have faced them down together and made it to Friday, not unscathed, but still standing.

I returned to Aikido training today after a two month break. My teacher taught us a very interesting lesson: he showed us a technique which could involve direct and effective violence, attacking multiple weak points in rapid succession and finishing your attacker in a permanent way. Think Krav Maga rather than Ju-jitsu.

Then he showed us the same technique without resistance and it was faster and irresistible.

The calm, methodical system for shredding the enemy.


Aug. 3rd, 2010 12:09 pm
salvianus: (shield)
Recovering from a third major operation in two years, I've been doing a lot more reading than re-enacting! I spent some months before my latest op preparing myself by practising Aikido again after a break of many years.

It helped me through.

If you are interested in Aikido, my favourite instructional text has become "Best Aikido: The Fundamentals" by Kisshomaru and Moriteru Ueshiba, the second and third (and current) doshu, son and grandson of the founder of Aikido, translated by John Stevens. The title is not inspiring, but the content is: wall to wall clear photograph sequences in the modern style practised at the Aikido Hombu dojo in Tokyo.

More detail )
salvianus: (Intercisa)
Very excited today to have a copy of Gespach's 'Coptic Textile Designs' arrive.

The 1987 Dover edition only has the original 144 patterns without the original text, so they lack any kind of context or description, even size, but unlike so many sources they are sized for easy imitation. A goldmine for the Late Roman Living Historian who knows the chronology well enough to pick suitable patterns, or who isn't too worried about the precise dating and is happy just to find authentic patterns.
salvianus: (Top man)
Having a great time at the festival again this year.

Showed my nephew the town in Viking gear, saw my first planetarium style guide to the stars and Viking navigation, bought a lovely penannular brooch from Cezary and some Curious Works sprang fingerless mittens and heard very interesting lectures on the Scar boat burial and Vale of York Hoard. I loved the fact that the Scar C10th comb turned out to be virtually identical to the one I pulled from my pouch. Come to think of it, I got that from Cezary too.

Tonight we attended the Minster to hear the York choir Enkelit fill it with beautiful Finnish songs and had the pleasure of seeing my old comrade Niall of the Jorvik Vikingr. A good man and the first person I asked 'so how do you become a re-enactor then?'

A very good day :-)
salvianus: (Top man)
festum Nativitatis Christi laetum et annum novum faustum felicemque omnibus exoptamus
We wish a joyful feast of Christ's Nativity and an auspicious and happy new year to all.

Christmas 2009

We're looking at the New Year with renewed hope and energy. Hope you are too!
salvianus: (Lunt)
so many pretties:

PAS photo's:

I love the presumably protective inscription on cat. number 550:
[.] I R G E : D N E : D I S E P E N T U // [.] F I N I M I C I T U I
[:] E/T [.] U G E N T Q U I O D E R U N // T T E A F A C I E T [U] A
read as:
'surge d[omi]ne [et] disepentur (for dissipentur) inimici tui et
fugent (for fugiant) qui oderunt te a facie tua'
(Rise up, o Lord, and may thy enemies be scattered and those who hate
thee be driven from thy face).
This passage is from the Psalms (this is given in most reports as
67:2, which is the numbering in Jerome's Vulgate, but Psalm 68:1 in the
NIV) which itself quotes Moses' invocation as the ark set out each
morning in the desert warded by the pillar of smoke, Numbers 10:35.

Another text from Anglo-Saxon England also quotes this passage:
Felix's Vita S. Guthlaci, written in c.730-49 one extant manuscript
fragment dating from the late eighth or early ninth century. In this,
at one point Guthlac uses the Psalm to ward off evil spirits:
"þone sealm sang: Exurgat deus et dissipentur, et reliqua. Sona swa he
þæt fyrmeste fers sang þæs sealmes, þa gewiton hi swa swa smic fram
his ansyne"
(sang the psalm: Exurgat Deus et dissipentur, et reliqua. As soon as
he had sung the first verse of the psalm, they departed like smoke
from his presence).

which itself refers to the continuation of the Psalm: "Just as smoke
vanishes, so may they vanish, just as wax flows away before the face
of fire".

I suspect some of the soldiers of Honorius were equally militant! I
just really, really hope they can tell us what it might have been
attached to. The treatment of the complete cross suggests the treasure was not buried by a believer, and thus if this strip did adorn a Christian warrior's gear
it may not have saved him, but as the inscription is on both sides, my guess is that it is part of another cross. Given that the hoard was deposited within sight of Lichfield Cathedral, the first building built in 700 to house the bones of St. Chad, I prefer to hope it was extracted from a pilgrim on their way to dedicate it to the shrine, or perhaps even lifted from the altar itself: a similar cross was buried with St Cuthbert.

Professor Michelle Brown believes the uncial lettering used implies a date of 7th or early 8th century, while Professor Elisabeth Okasha thinks the style of insular majuscule suggests the 8th or early 9th century. The St Chad Gospels housed in the Cathedral since the tenth century were written in the 8th, perhaps around 730. The script is mostly Insular majuscule but has some uncial characteristics and is thus called semi-uncial.

(much info from
salvianus: (Top man)
Our re-creation of a Late Roman Wedding portrait, showing the union of right hands with rings.

Taken at Vindolanda, Northumberland. We've been married in the real world for 15 years today :-)

Dextram Iunctio
salvianus: (Top man)
Thanks to the end of term need to empty my classroom, I now have a wall of old teaching resources between me and the re-enactment gear.


Digging out the spears,
Digging out the spears,
We shall chuck old papers,
Digging out the spears!
salvianus: (Intercisa)
Sumner, G. (2009) Roman Military Dress, Stroud: The History Press

After having been lucky enough to see some of the material for the book when Graham came to York recently, it was great to be able to walk away from Vindolanda with a copy in my hands. Graham was kind enough to trek up to our camp and sign one for me, having rescued his personal copies from the museum bookshop, who had assumed they were for general sale and sent several over to Corbridge!

More detail )


May. 22nd, 2009 11:37 pm
salvianus: (shield)
We couldn't go to Bamburgh this weekend, so I got my fix by working on the web site & adapted a Legio Praesidiensis shield design graphic sent to me for use by Comitatus.

Image below cut )
salvianus: (Top man)
We have a new tent!

Now we too can experience the streamlined convenience of Living History in the double stitched comfort of a side opening display tent.

cut for tentage excitement )
salvianus: (Default)
Back under canvas and around a fire after almost a year :-)

Yesterday, we watched the sunrise dim the starfield until only the Morning Star remained.

Beautiful :-)

Sledmere is a wonderful site, we were surrounded by trees and peacocks. The horses were great fun to have in the camp with us, snorting and snoring and looking quite interested.

Cut for more enthusing )
Other standouts:
Everyone's faces around the fire, feeling at home as the infantry commentary kicked in, drifting off in the listening to the kids playing down the street.
'vulneratus non victus sum'
salvianus: (shield)
The world below lies desolate
The spirits of evil are fallen
The angels of God are rejoicing
The tombs of the dead are empty
For Christ is risen indeed from the dead,
the first of the sleepers

Hippolytus of Rome, reputedly a C2nd-3rd Roman soldier converted by St. Lawrence.
salvianus: (Lunt)
This season's exploration of the pilgrimage site on Looe Island was fascinating, Cornwall being key in unravelling Sub-Roman (or Brythonic) Christianity.

The Roman finds particularly provoke thoughts of continuity, though presumably there wasn't clear dating evidence for the early Saxon half of that equation beyond 'pre-1100'.

What bugged my was the director's decision to keep repeating Professor Nicholas Orme's description of Glastonbury Abbey as 'the first English theme park' and applying it to the pilgrim chapels they refurbished on the site. I'm happy to accept that Glastonbury monks fabricated the 'Arthur's grave' found on the site and I'm sure the prof has a lot of further evidence of the deliberate manufacture of artificial atmosphere, so to speak, in order to justify such a description, but it seems rather an odd term for two chapels and a little monk's house with a small room to crash in.

I can't help contrasting this dismissive phrase with the reverent tones heard in the series regarding prehistoric religious sites: Francis Pryor describing a couple of imposing hilltops with connecting trackways as a 'highly sophisticated ritual landscape'.

Am I paranoid or would they speak of any other religion but Christianity in these terms?
salvianus: (Salvianus Intercisa)
I enjoyed myself at Snowball, which was quite different this year with loosely timetabled talks and a big focus on welcoming new members and helping them get a good start on kit.

More... )
salvianus: (Jorvik)
The York Viking Festival has feasted :-)

Clicky for Yakkity )

The best of it was showing my old mate Simon and family a time. We did Dig (me in kit) recovering our lost booking thanks to the extremely helpful peeps there after the worst food delays in Christendom in the Slug & Lettuce (lovely staff, just not enough kitchen) and ran into Mick Aston (whose talk that evening was entertaining, despite his bronchitis - though he was brusque with questioners who dared to mention the old criticisms of the quality of Time Team's archaeology).

We rested up and staggered along to hear Hugh Lupton's modern English telling of Beowulf at the Early Music Centre. This was interesting: he treated it as a fluid story in the oral tradition rather than as a text, skipping some of my favourite phrases, substituting his own key repeated phrases and alliteration, changing some of the plot and much of the pace and balance of the piece for a modern (or, shall I say a wider) audience in the same vein as a better screenplay adaptation (I can't liken it to a novelisation as I've yet to read a tolerable one). The addition of percussion was, again, interesting - probably more accessible than the lyre and certainly well performed.

It made me want to perform my own material, preferably by torchlight in a long hall and that can't be bad :-)
salvianus: (grin)
festum Nativitatis Christi laetum et annum novum faustum felicemque omnibus exopto
I wish a joyful feast of Christ's Nativity and an auspicious and happy new year to all.

Christmas 2008

It's been a rough year for us and a there's a stretch of hard road to go, but there is always light on the horizon.

Audivit summo reverens
silentio terra.

Adhuc nunc alis devolant
per caelum expansis;
adhuc et cantus dispergunt
mortalibus fessis,
et tristes atque desertos
campos pervolitant,
semperque mundi strepitum
canentes superant.

The world in solemn stillness lay,
To hear the angels sing.

Still through the cloven skies they come
With peaceful wings unfurled,
And still their heavenly music floats
O’er all the weary world;
Above its sad and lowly plains,
They bend on hovering wing,
And ever over its Babel sounds
The blessèd angels sing.

It Came Upon the Midnight Clear
(Translated by Robert J.M. Lindsay)


Nov. 11th, 2008 12:43 pm
salvianus: (Salvianus shield)
Wake not for the world-heard thunder
Not the chime that earthquakes toll.
Star may plot in heaven with planet,
Lightning rive the rock of granite,
Tempest tread the oakwood under:
Fear you not for flesh nor soul.
Marching, fighting, victory past,
Stretch your limbs in peace at last.

Stir not for the soldiers drilling
Nor the fever nothing cures:
Throb of drum and timbal's rattle
Call but man alive to battle,
And the fife with death-notes filling
Screams for blood but not for yours.
Times enough you bled your best;
Sleep on now, and take your rest.

Sleep, my lad; the French are landed,
London's burning, Windsor's down;
Clasp your cloak of earth about you,
We must man the ditch without you,
March unled and fight short-handed,
Charge to fall and swim to drown.
Duty, friendship, bravery o'er,
Sleep away, lad; wake no more.

A. E. Housman, Last Poems, XXIX
salvianus: (grin)
Here in Guy Fawkes' home town, it's might be forgiveable that the City Council no longer organises a November 5th bonfire and firework display, local boy & all that. Or it would be if they hadn't given up merely because they couldn't organise one big event to their own public liability insurance standards (mostly traffic, would you believe), just as they banned the Viking boat burnings at the Jorvik festival on safety grounds, rather than making the events safe.

I'm pretty sure they couldn't organise a booze up in a brewery because people might get drunk.

I don't suppose it's occured to them to eliminate the problems associated with the big crowds drawn to a city-wide event by having several local events? The thinking just isn't top-down enough.

And what is it all about? Fires were lit in the streets of London to warm the street parties celebrating James I deliverance from assassination (& to a lesser extent his heir and the members of the Royal family saved with him and not so much the hundreds of Members of Parliament & seat of democracy itself). That the would-be assassins were Roman Catholics trying to eliminate a Protestant King was a factor in the handling of the subsequent pursuit, arrests, executions and backlash, but the bells rang out on the 5th for the safety of the monarch and hence the realm, untainted by denominational venom. Amazing that so many have forgotten, not least that Guido was just the trigger man, rather than the ringleader of the plot, Catesby.

Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I can think of no reason
Why the Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.
Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, t'was his intent
To blow up the King and Parli'ment.
Three-score barrels of powder below
To prove old England's overthrow;
By God's providence he was catch'd
With a dark lantern and burning match.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, let the bells ring.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the King!
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