The term “oral optimistic fatalism” suggests that Eskimos tend to feel the universe is benign and giving and generally good. Eskimos also tend to feel the universe is at times cruel and unpredictable, but the defence against angry feelings over frustration is a conscious fatalistic acceptance. This adult attitude colours all expectations in life and it is believed, is related to the interesting polarity in Eskimo behaviour. Eskimos are generally noted for being friendly, cooperative, sharing (even of wives at times), with a strongly positive attitude toward the truth and a forthright courageous attitude toward their environment. They are also noted as gentle in child-rearing and strongly oriented toward avoiding violence and even conflict at all costs. But this does not mean that they cannot also be grasping, greedy, murderous in their jealousy over women and subject to malicious gossip and other human frailties, at the same time fearing yet needing shamanistic intervention in the real world of hunting. They have also been known to be cruel to favoured and unfavoured children, dogs and other animals, to follow taboo-ridden practices of infanticide and be subject to hysterical psychoses (often called pibloqtok or some variant).
Some Observations on Witchcraft : The Case of the Aivilik Eskimos
I wonder what an Aivilik anthropologist, if such a person could ever exist, would have to say about us and our culture, from their standpoint ?
After about twenty years of yacking on the internet and all these blog posts here, I have probably said anything interesting and original that I ever had on my mind several times over by now.
This whole electronic virtual realm is relentlessly moving on and I am getting old and increasingly less interested in keeping up. The younger ones are constructing their own ways of coping with it all, and it’s increasingly strange, bleak, and unappealing to this old man.
So, what to write about ? Well, this was stimulating, from a good blog, but I have often mentioned it before, so it’s a returning and repeating, to some extent. I do think it is a very interesting topic… many people mention The Flood… when was it ? what was it ?
A Bronze Age Flood In The British Isles
There was a catastrophic weather event which hit Ireland and Wales during the period 2354 BC and 2345 BC. Among other things, this event permanently flooded a village and forest Cardigan Bay in Wales.
There is a Gaelic legend that explains it, which has very close parallels across Ireland and Wales in other locations as well.
In “The Lleyn peninsula : It’s history, literature & antiquities” we read that:
“…practically every lake in Wales has some story or other connected with it. The story about the lake Glasfryn is very interesting. The story says that in the olden times there was a well where the lake is now, and this well, kept by a maiden named “Grassi,” was called “Grace’s Well.”
Over the well was a door, presumably a trapdoor, which Grassi used to open when people wanted water, and shut immediately afterwards. One day Grassi forgot to shut the door, and the water overflowed and formed a lake. For her carelessness Grassi was turned into a swan, and her ghost is still said to haunt Glasfryn House and Cal-Ladi. This little lake is now the home and breeding-place of countless swans…” . . .
[I]n “Historical and descriptive notices of the city of Cork and its vicinity” first published in 1839 by John Windele. On Pages 42-43 we can read this:
A short distance to the south west, from the City, is Lough na famog, (probably the Lough Ere of the Hajiology,) now called the Lough of Cork, a considerable sheet of water supplied by streams from the adjoining hills; the high road runs along its eastern shore, and the other sides are skirted by grounds, unhappily without tree or shrub, to add a feature of beauty or interest to the picture. It is the scene of one of CROKER’S charming Fairy Legends, detailing the bursting forth of the lake, through the negligence of the princess Fioruisge (Irish: Fior-uisge – spring water), daughter of King Corc. In taking water from the charmed fountain, she forgot to close the mouth of the well, and the court, the gardens, the King, and his people, were buried beneath the flowing waters.
The incident is common to almost every lake in Ireland.
Six centuries ago, Cambrensis had a similar legend concerning Lough Neagh, which Hollinshed has repeated in a less diffusive style.
“There was,” he says, “in old time, where the pool now standeth, vicious and beastlie inhabitants. At which time was there an old saw in everie man his mouth, that as soon as a well there springing, (which for the superstitious reverence they bare it, was continuallie covered and signed,) were left open and unsigned, so soone would so much water gush out of that well, as would forthwith overwhelme the whole territorie.
It happened at length, that an old trot came thither to fetch water, and hearing her childe whine, she ran with might and maine to dandle her babe, forgetting the observance of the superstitious order tofore used: But as she was returning backe, to have covered the spring, the land was so farre overflown, as that it past hir helpe; and shortly after, she, hir suckling, and all those that were within the whole territorie, were drowned; and this seemeth to carie more likelihood with it, because the fishers in a cleare sunnie daie, see the steeples and other piles plainlie and distinctlie in the water.”
The legend that there was an inundated settlement in Cardigan Bay was corroborated a few years ago when a winter storm cleared away sands in the bay that had concealed it. Tree rings dated the event and confirmed that it happened at the same time as parallel events in Ireland.
It isn’t implausible, however, that the modern neglected well legends derive not from a direct memory of the actual event, but from a similar winter storm that revealed the inundated settlement and demanded an explanation, much like the one a few years ago that led to the modern archaeological discovery.
This also begs the question of whether there was a global sea level rise in the Atlantic Ocean at this time, perhaps due to some glacial dam finally breaking and flooding the ocean, that might have a connection to Plato’s Atlantis myth, or even to the Biblical flood myth.
It’s all interesting to me, for many reasons, one being that I used to live there, in a house on the beach, and often walked amongst the tree stumps protruding from the sand. I don’t think this is any kind of ‘recent discovery’, people have known about it forever. This was just the most recent time that the wider world got to hear about it.
My house was just behind, beside, this fellows head. The waves came up to the back door on the highest tides, and in storms the spray went over the top of the roof carrying stones and pebbles into the street on the other side. Daft place to put a house really, but it and the ones on each side were built by retired Victorian ship captains who had spent their lives at sea and wanted to be close to the waves. The sea did come right through all the houses sometimes, taking the furniture into the street, but fortunately not during the period that I resided there. However, I’d get woken up with the bed shaking from the impacts of the waves when there were big tides and big storms, like being in an earthquake.
There are similar stories about inundated land, from all around the British Isles. I once had an exchange on the topic with a Scottish archaeologist woman who was researching them – her name escapes me for the moment, perhaps I’ll remember.
Some of the stories are famous, like Hy Brasil
But there are similar tales in the folklore and local records from around Scotland, the Scilly Isles, in fact I think all over the British Isles, and indeed further afield, like Norway. The Cormorants of Udrost.
There is a song about hearing the bells from the church of the sunken village.
Of course, that was all long ago, before modern scientific archaeologists began to explore what had actually occurred, and they came up with masses of evidence related to their Doggerland project.
During the most recent glaciation of the Last Glacial Maximum, which ended around 18,000 years ago, the North Sea and much of the British Isles were covered with glacial ice and the sea level was about 120 m (390 ft) lower. Subsequently, the climate became warmer and during the Late Glacial Maximum around 12,000 BCE Britain, as well as much of the North Sea and English Channel, was an expanse of low-lying tundra.
Evidence, including the contours of the present seabed, indicates that after the first main Ice Age, the watershed between the North Sea and English Channel extended east from East Anglia then south-east to the Hook of Holland, rather than across the Strait of Dover. The Seine, Thames, Meuse, Scheldt and Rhine rivers joined and flowed west along the English Channel as a wide slow river before eventually reaching the Atlantic Ocean.
At about 8000 BC the north-facing coastal area of Doggerland had a coastline of lagoons, saltmarshes, mudflats and beaches as well as inland streams, rivers, marshes and lakes. It may have been the richest hunting, fowling and fishing ground in Europe in the Mesolithic period.
One big river system found by 3D seismic survey was the ‘Shotton River’, which drained the south-east part of the Dogger Bank hill area into the east end of the Outer Silver Pit lake. It is named after Birmingham geologist Frederick William Shotton.
Since attending to New Earth Lady and related research, I’m becoming increasingly sceptical about the timeline we are given by the orthodox mainstream academics, there does seem to be some serious problem, but I have not identified what it is, let alone come to any clear conclusions as to what’s really going on. At least the conventional dating can provide a point of reference. I put a lot of effort into learning it, and now I hardly know what to think anymore. There seem to be so many anomalies and unsatisfactory explanations.
As ice melted at the end of the last glacial period of the current ice age, sea levels rose and the land began to tilt in an isostatic adjustment as the huge weight of ice lessened. Doggerland eventually became submerged, cutting off what was previously the British peninsula from the European mainland by around 6500 BCE.
The Dogger Bank, an upland area of Doggerland, remained an island until at least 5000 BC. Key stages are now believed to have included the gradual evolution of a large tidal bay between eastern England and Dogger Bank by 7000 BC and a rapid sea-level rise thereafter, leading to Dogger Bank becoming an island and Great Britain getting physically disconnected from the continent.
A recent hypothesis postulates that much of the remaining coastal land was flooded by a megatsunami around 6200 BCE, caused by a submarine landslide off the coast of Norway known as the Storegga Slide.
This suggests: “that the Storegga Slide tsunami would have had a catastrophic impact on the contemporary coastal Mesolithic population…. Britain finally became separated from the continent and in cultural terms, the Mesolithic there goes its own way.”
A study published in 2014 suggested that the only remaining parts of Doggerland at the time of the Storegga Slide were low-lying islands, but supported the view that the area had been abandoned at about the same time as the tsunamis.
Another view speculates that the Storegga tsunami devastated Doggerland but then ebbed back into the sea, with the later bursting of Lake Agassiz (in North America) releasing so much fresh water that sea levels over about two years rose to flood much of Doggerland and make Britain an island.
I gather that stories of cataclysmic floods occur all around the world in the mythologies of almost all cultures as a common theme. But it doesn’t follow that they are all necessarily talking about the same singular event, perhaps there were many, some local and confined, with different causes, and maybe some more widespread or even universal.
I think it has been established that the Australian Aborigines have an account in some of their mythology which has been correlated with actual geological events from many tens of thousands of years ago, when the coastline was swallowed up by the sea.
‘Britain’s Atlantis’ found at bottom of North sea – a huge undersea world swallowed by the sea in 6500BC
Legends tell of the ancient Tuatha Dé Danann people of Ireland having been the fifth invasion of Ireland. Some very old stories tell that where they came from was a land north of Ireland which was swallowed by the sea. Is the region under the ocean above Ireland currently part of your review and if so, is there evidence that might link this evacuation to the subsequent invasion of the nearby land mass?
- No, we haven’t looked at this area as yet, however there is a team from the University of Ulster who are working in this area who’s results you may be interested in. Their webpage is here
- there are some intriguing folk stories about submerged landscapes from around the UK, which may be a folk memory of submerged land masses. There is an useful discussion of this in the further reading section of the book “Europe’s Lost World”
courtofjest • 5 years ago
This Question is for Caroline:
I study cultural anthropology a great deal and have drawn many parallels from the history, archaeology, and cultures of people’s throughout history. Do you think that its possible that climate change is on a cycle that correlates with the precession of the equinox? The Egyptian’s spoke of “the first time” which was believed to have occurred before the end of the ice age 14,500 years ago. The Mayans built their calender based on this cycle. In Michael Cremo’s book Forbidden Archaeology he sheds light on countless examples of evidence of anatomically modern human beings that have pushed our beginnings back beyond what is recognized conventionally even today. The face of the earth has literally changed as continents worth of land has been submerged under water and thought-to-be populated shorelines/cities now reside under water and to think that out of the entire history of Earth it just decided to get cold for a while seems a little demeaning. The asteroid theory seems plausible but we have had multiple impacts of asteroids that haven’t even remotely had type of effect in relativity to time. All religions point to a time before the ice age and this cycle even as the bible’s “Apocalypse” does not literally mean “the end of the world” as much as it does “the end of one age and the beginning of the next”. Originally Bimini, Yana Guni, and the roads of the Maltese Islands were Shunned scientifically because the facts didn’t fit the conventional theory and were therefor disposed of. Do you think it’s is feasible that at some point we might as a society identify with the possibility that our future actually lies in our past and climate change, submergence, and culture are a fluid cycle? Also assuming that this is indeed the case do you think that buried under the ice at the poles there is a possibility of unexplored archaeological sites?
- Submerged Archaeology courtofjest • 5 years ago
- You are certainly right that climate change has followed general cycles and there has been considerable landscape change even in the time during which people have lived in Britain, due to a mix of climate and other environmental factors. It is also true that humans have a lengthy history prior to the last Ice Age during which there is plenty of evidence for complex behaviour such as cave painting and other ritual acts. During my career as an archaeologist I’ve seen some theories shift from ‘fringe’ to mainstream and I’m glad that archaeology can be flexible and incorporate change. Of course I’m hoping that we are becoming more aware as a society of the potential role of understanding the past – there is so much to offer regarding our response to the changes that we will experience. I’m not sure about buried sites under polar ice, but there are certainly many interesting examples of fantastic archaeology in areas that we might now find hard to populate. You will find an interesting discussion of submergence myths in the last chapter of Europe’s Lost World (by Vince Gaffney, Simon Fitch and David Smith), and there is a new book out on the British Palaeolithic which I’d recommend: Human Societies at the edge of the Pleistocene World (by Paul Pettit and Mark White).
Personally, I believe there is the possibility that the Mabinogion tales contain material, not just from Iron Age Celtic times, but from very very much earlier.
Because there is a mention of a time when Ireland and Wales where only separated by two shallow rivers, the Archan and the Li (Lee).
We know now, from the geological record, that that musthave been the case. But at the time the stories were written down, the authors couldn’t have known that.
So either they invented that detail – why ? – or else it must have been passed down via oral transmission from neolithic and mesolithic times. There are also the tales of the sunken offshore kingdoms. That land was inundated approximately 4000 B.C. [?]
[This chapter discusses allusions in the Second Branch of the Mabinogi, Branwen, to Irish geography: the former rivers between Britain and Ireland called Lli and theArchan and the submerged kingdoms; the river Liffey and Dublin; and the origin story of the ‘five fifths of Ireland’. The last is compared with Lebor Gabála Érennand Giraldus Cambrensis, with the Lot story in Genesis 19, with the stories of Cairbre Cattchenn and Túathal Techtmar, and with the ‘Treachery at Scone’. ]
Noteworthy also are the causeways or Sarnau which extend out a long way into Cardigan Bay. Some people insist that they are natural glacial morains, whilst others insist that they are definitely manmade. Afaik, there’s never been really thorough rigorous studies. I’ve been told by a friend who was a trained deep diver and had done a lot in Cardigan Bay, that both the sunken forests and the Sarnau can be found many miles from the shore.
There is no reliable physical evidence of the substantial community that legend promises lies under the sea, although several reports exist of remains being sighted.
In the 1846 edition of The Topographical Dictionary of Wales, Samuel Lewis described a feature of stone walls and causeways beneath the shallow waters of Cardigan Bay:
In the sea, about seven miles west of Aberystwyth in Cardiganshire, is a collection of loose stones, termed Caer Wyddno, “the fort or palace of Gwyddno;” and adjoining it are vestiges of one of the more southern causeways or embankments of Catrev Gwaelod. The depth of water over the whole extent of the bay of Cardigan is not great; and on the recess of the tide, stones bearing Latin inscriptions, and Roman coins of various emperors, have been found below high-water mark: in different places in the water, also, are observed prostrate trees.”
Lewis takes the view that maps by the cartographer Ptolemy marked the coastline of Cardigan Bay in the same location as it appears in modern times, suggesting that the date of the flood occurred before the second century AD.
The “causeways” described by Lewis can be seen today at beaches around Cardigan Bay. Known as Sarnau, these ridges stretch several miles into the sea at right angles to the coast, and are located between each of the four river mouths in the north of Cardigan Bay. Modern geologists surmise that these formations of clay, gravel and rocks are moraines formed by the action of melting glaciers end of the last ice age. In a 2006 episode of the BBC television documentary Coast, presenter Neil Oliver visited Sarn Gynfelyn at Wallog. The programme also featured the remains of the submerged forest at Ynyslas, near Borth which is associated with the lost land of Cantre’r Gwaelod. The vista of dead oak, pine, birch, willow and hazel tree stumps preserved by the acid anaerobic conditions in the soil is revealed at low tide and is estimated to be about 5000 years old.
I have a small roll of birch bark that I retrieved from a partly buried birch tree at Borth beach when part of the sunken forest was revealed after a storm, it’s just like new, you’d think it could have come from any tree today.
There are several other west coast beaches going down to Pembrokeshire, where buried forests sometimes appear, and I think more on the south coast, and then there’s the Severn Estuary, where mesolithic hunter gatherer footprints are found on the mudflats from time to time.
This is the kind of thing that makes archeology exciting. While looking for something else, researchers in Scotland recently discovered the location of the lost Dark Ages kingdom of Rheged, the mysterious sixth century land ruled by King Urien, made famous in early medieval poetry and long believed to have been located near Carlisle and Cumbria. This exciting new discovery and interpretation of carvings puts it instead over 100 km (60 miles) away at Trusty’s Hill Fort in Galloway.
For those who slept through Olde English poetry class, most of what we know about Rheged and King Urein comes from the Book of Taliesin, which is believed to be the work of the poet Taliesin, who is referred to by later poets and writers as Taliesin Ben Beirdd (Taliesin, Chief of Bards) and was assumed to be the king’s bard. The book described the courts of King Urien, his son Owain mab Urien, King Brochfael Ysgithrog of Powys and his successor Cynan Garwyn.