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That was quite interesting. Unfortunately, I started out being mildly sceptical of the theory taking up most of the programme (that Durrington Henge was the site of funerary rites, and the river took the ashes to Stonehenge, which was the Hall of the Dead), and got steadily more so as it went on, frequently snapping "That's not evidence!" at the screen[1]. By the end I was actually willing the dating evidence to say Durrington was built centuries after Stonehenge, just to shut him up, but it didn't.

Anyway, amongst the things there was evidence for, at some point people were shooting pigs[2] with arrows for a big feast, and the henge is aligned with the midwinter sunrise. So it's not too great a leap to assume that the big pork dinner was a midwinter celebration (whether or not it also involved casting ashes on the Avon).

So Sir Pterry should be happy; the ancient origins of Hogswatchnight are apparently genuine...

[1]His main point seemed to be that there was a path from Stonehenge to the river, and a path (which turned out to be the first neolithic road discovered in Europe) from Durrington Henge to the river, and that neolithic people believed rivers were important. To me, that last would explain them being connected by the river without them necessarily being connected in a symbolic sense. The Tate Modern and Buck House both have paths leading to the London Underground, but what does that prove?

[2]I think we're talking about more-or-less domesticated pigs, rather than wild boar, so "hunting" them suggests some kind of ceremonial enactment. Tony suggested it sounded like a sort of neolithic Olympic event.
daibhidc: (Default)
Saw an interesting schools programme today, part of the BBC's "Scotland's History" thing. It was part one of a two-parter about the Jacobite rebellion. The idea is they show two opposing viewpoints. This week's, "Ye Jacobites By Name" is about the arrogant Italian "Young Pretender" making an ill-advised attempt at usurption. Next week's "Charlie is My Darling", is about the dashing Scottish "Bonnie Prince Charlie" boldy trying to reclaim his throne. They're presented by different people, and the opening scene had them bickering, with a neutral presenter trying to keep order.

The interesting bit was how outrageous I found this guy's opinions. I actually have a lot of sympathy for this view of the rebellion. (I live in Culloden; it's hard to have a romantic view of a mass grave on your doorstep.) But when this guy started going on (and on) about the Stuarts being Catholic, I started thinking he was one step away from wearing a bowler hat and playing a flute. When he finished by calling the Duke of Cumberland the true hero of the rebellion, I was literally tense with irritation.

Obviously, this was intentional, and at the end the neutral presenter did say "Wasn't the Duke of Cumberland called the Butcher?" But I was surprised at how far it went. I don't think the programme makers agree with him; quite the reverse, in fact[1]. So I'll be interested to see if next week's show makes the Jacobite presenter just as obviously prejudiced, or tones it down a bit.

[1] When your presenter wears a Union Flag tie, and says "even in Scotland - or as I prefer to call it, North Britain", the message is quite clear - if you're a patriotic Scot, you disagree with him.

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Daibhid C

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