The Venerable Bede on immigration

THERE HAS BEEN much concern over the immigration problem in the UK lately.  Well, this is nothing new.  In the 7th century AD it was identified as a problem by the Venerable Bede (aka St Bede), a monk of the monastery of St Peter at Monkwearmouth (Jarrow) in Northumbria. He described the coming of the Anglo-Saxons in the 5th century (in his  Adventus Saxonum) in the following terms:

The newcomers came from three very powerful nations of the Germans, namely the Saxons, the Angles and the Jutes. From the stock of the Jutes are the people of Kent and the people of Wight, and that which in the province of the West Saxons is to this day called the nation of the Jutes, situated opposite that same Isle of Wight. From the Saxons, that is, from the region that now is called that of the Old Saxons, came the East Saxons, the South Saxons, and the West Saxons ….. In a short time, as bands of the aforesaid nations eagerly flocked into the Island, the people of the newcomers began to increase so much that they became a source of terror to the very natives who had invited them.”

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The Venerable Bede (672-735) – he knew you know

Don’t say we weren’t warned …….

Bede is widely regarded as the greatest of Anglo-Saxon scholars and known as the ‘Father of English History’.   Almost everything that we know of his life is contained in the last chapter of his Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum (The ecclesiastical history of the English people – written in Latin of course). It was completed in about 731. Bede implies that he was in his 59th year then, hence the supposed date of his birth as 672.

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Historia ecclesiastica – opening of Book 1: Southern England

Bede was the only native of Great Britain to be made a Doctor of the Church – in his case, by Pope Leo XIII   (Anselm of Canterbury also received the honour but he was an Italian by birth).

Just out of interest, Bede’s adoption of the dating anno domini (AD) in his De Temporum Ratione is the reason we use it today. It was, in fact, a third method of dating invented by Dionysus Exiguus in AD 525.  More recently, in the 19th century (although it does date back to the 17th century), Jewish academics adopted Common Era – or Christian Era or Current Era (CE) instead of AD, and BCE for Before Common Era instead of BC (Before Christ).  Call me old fashioned, but I cannot change a habit of a life-time and will stay with good old AD and BC.

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Bede’s tomb is in Durham Cathedral – he’s been there since 1022 and was moved to the Galilee Chapel of the Cathedral in the 14th century. You might not be very interested in that, but at least now you know. He obtained the name ‘Venerable’ after his death – it was simply written on his tomb:  HIC SUNT IN FOSSA BEDAE VENERABILIS OSSA
Here are buried the bones of the Venerable Bede – and it ‘caught on’ as they say.

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Bede’s tomb – pride of place in the Galillee Chapel


Artemus Smith’s Notebooks

I have discovered another volume of Artemus’ notebooks (followers will recall Dr Artemus Smith was an archaeologist of great courage, determination and fiction). Here is another extract:

My young cousin, Thomas, was telling me that he and his two friends, Richard and Harry, had been to a party.  After the party Thomas drove them all back to the hotel. The hotel was 90 floors high and their room was on the top floor.

Unfortunately for them, the lift (elevator) was not working.  So to while away the time they made a plan that for the first 30 floors Richard would tell jokes. The second 30 floors Harry would tell a happy story, and for the last 30 floors Thomas would tell a sad story. They then started up the stairs and Richard began.

Well-over an hour later, it was Thomas’s turn. He turned to the other two and said “Okay guys, here’s my sad story ….. I left the room key in the car.”

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The Magna Carta revisited

FOLLOWERS MAY RECALL my post on the Magna Carta, January 3 this year. Well, I omitted to mention the three copies of the document held at the Society of Antiquaries of London. This is particularly remiss of me as I’m a Fellow of the Society!

The first one is the Black Book of Peterborough Abbey. This is a 13th century copy of the original 1215 manuscript. This is the most radical version as it contains the clause referring to no taxation to be imposed without the common consent of the Kingdom and the revolutionary ‘security clause’ (see January 3 post).

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Black Book of Peterborough Magna Carta

The second is the Halesowen Abbey copy of the 1225 version. This is a scroll document and may have been produced by the Abbey because the Abbot had to go to Court to fight against unjust action by King John in 1279. So it was the Abbot’s legal defence document (and he won).

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Halesowen Abbey scroll copy

The third is the Hart Book of Statutes. This is a 14th century volume of law (statutes) probably produced especially for lawyers – a modern day law book in fact. They (lawyers) had to read the law from somewhere and these statues books were produced (most likely in London) for that purpose. This particular 14th century book contains the Magna Carta.

Hart Book of Statutes

Hart Book of Statutes

My apologies to the Society for overlooking these copies …….

 


 Artemus Smith’s Notebooks

I have discovered another volume of Artemus’ notebooks (followers will recall Dr Artemus Smith was an archaeologist of great courage, determination and fiction). Here is another extract:

My colleague, Benedict Tantamount made mention to me:

“I had a near miss with the constabulary the other day. I was speeding in my motor vehicle and was chased and apprehended by the police, but with my quick thinking I managed to get away with it.

When I was eventually stopped, the police officer approached the car and said, ‘It’s been a long day and my shift is almost over, so if you can give me a good excuse for your behaviour, I’ll let you go.’  

I thought for a few seconds and then said, ‘My wife ran away with a policeman about a week ago and I thought you might be that officer trying to bring her back!'”

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Travels in Crete 6: keep out the water

WE DON’T SEE many sharks in the waters off Crete but up until March this year you would not have wanted to swim in the reservoir/lake south of Rethymnon – for there lurked Sifis – a 6ft crocodile!

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Sifis

No, crocodiles are not native to Crete, or Greece, or anywhere in Europe! However, Sifis first appeared in the lake some 8 months beforehand but managed to avoid capture. He was happy living off the wild-life within the lake. He was named Sifis, a ‘typical’ Cretan name [1], by his admirers who set up a Facebook dedicated to him. Tourists travelled from as far as Japan to get a sight of him (who needs Minoan archaeology!).

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In September, the Frenchman, Olivier Behra, reputed to be the world’s greatest living crocodile hunter proved he wasn’t.  He managed to grab Sifis but he escaped  (Sifis not Behra …).

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The lake – it’s not safe to go in!

Sadly, during the winter months, the cold winter defeated Sifis and he was found dead on the banks of the lake. The director of Crete’s waterworks division, Vangelis Mamagakis, said, “It’s sad, very sad. We never wanted this to happen, we wanted to move him out of the reservoir to a more suitable place but he just kept eluding us.”

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Sifis basking in the Cretan sunshine

How on earth did Sifis get there?! It has been speculated that he may have been deposited into the lake by his owner when he just got too big. Don’t people know that little crocs become big crocs when they get older?!

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Footnote:

[1] Hmmmm … not sure how typical – I know quite a few Cretans named Yannis, Manolis, Yiorgos, Nikos – but I’ve only ever met one Sifis (and he wasn’t a crocodile).


POSTSCRIPT

Whilst on the subject of crocs, I did find this sign which made me smile:

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Then of course there is this classic sign at the entrance to a crocodile park (or is it alligator – can you tell the difference? Does it really matter ……?)

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But did you know that the common sign ‘Trespassers will be prosecuted’ is a falsehood. You cannot prosecute trespassers as it is not a criminal offence to trespass.

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Oh no they won’t

Trespass to land is a civil action. But you knew that because you have read my book ‘Do you know your law from your elbow’. This was (still is) availble on e-kindle to download but now you can buy it in book form – click here

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Artemus Smith’s Notebooks

I have discovered another volume of Artemus’ notebooks (followers will recall Dr Artemus Smith was an archaeologist of great courage, determination and fiction). Here is another extract:

I was in a bank the other day which was being robbed! The bank robber pulled out a gun and pointed it at the bank clerk and said, “Give me all the money or you’re geography!”

The puzzled bank clerk replied, “Did you mean to say ‘or you’re history?'”

The robber said, “Don’t change the subject!”

Travels in Crete 5: Toplou revisited

IF YOU REFER BACK to my post ‘Travels in Crete 3’ (July 11) you will recall I visited the the Toplou (Akrotiriani) Monastery.  I made mention of this trip to  my good Cretan friend of 7 years from Mochlos.  He told me that the Abbot from the monastery, Gennadios Silignaki, helped aid the Cretan National Resistance during the Second World War (along with many other monasteries who helped the Cretan and British resistance fighters). My friend further informed me that, sadly, the Abbot Siliginaki had been shot for his involvement in the resistance.  He thought others had lost their lives as well.

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Toplou Monastery

After further investigation, I discovered that the monastery was housing a wireless radio and the Germans found out about it.  Abbot Silignaki and certainly two monks, Kallinikos Papathanasakis and  Evemenios Stamatakis, were taken prisoner at Toplou in June 1944, along with an 18 yr old female wireless operator, Terpsichori Chryssoulaki-Vlachou.   They were transported to a prison at Agia in Chania and interrogated.  Stamatakis died in prison having been tortured, and both Papathanasakis and the girl, Chryssoulaki-Vlachou, were shot along with the Abbot Silignaki.

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Terpsichori Chryssoulaki-Vlachou

Returning to my conversation with my Cretan friend, he said that Abbot Siliginaki was from Sfaka along the road from Mochlos. Then he reminded me that he too originated from Sfaka and,  downing the remains of his raki, he added that his family name is also Siliginaki.

 

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‘Modern’ Monument at Toplou by Manolis Tzompanakis dedicated to the many monks killed during both the 1821 and 1940-44 resistances

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And this post is dedicated to Abbot Gennadios Silignaki, Kallinikos Papathanasakis, Evemenios Stamatakis and Terpsichori Chryssoulaki-Vlachou


 

Travels in Crete 4: the anniversary

THIS IS NOT so much travels in Crete, just a picture-log of two special days in Crete. The reason I’m posting this is twofold: (a) it was a great two days for Sarah and myself; and (b) I don’t have much else to tell you about at the moment (you can see I’m running out of ideas!). I won’t bore you with too much detail as many of you won’t be interested, but the pictures are quite fun (well, for Sarah and I, anyway).

The two days covered our 4th wedding anniversary in Crete (see post ‘Travels in Crete: Mochlos’, May 30, 2014).  On the first day it all began early in the morning …….

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Sunrise in Mochlos (6.30 am)

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This first day was our actual anniversary (22nd July) and was spent on a deja vu trip. We started off at 9.00 am at ‘Nick’s place’ with champagne by his pool. Nick of the Laing (new Welsh gentry) needed to pick his boat up from Agios Nikolaos, so Sarah and I went along for the ride. And what a ride – it involved three boat trips (RIB, main cruiser boat, then dinghy). We took the RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat) from Mochlos to Agios – Sarah referred to it as a ‘white-knuckle’ ride (she started off at the front of the RIB which was a mistake!) but it was great. Then we collected the main boat (Beneteau 46) in Agios and Nick took us back to the marina harbour where he picked us up four years ago after our wedding by the lake in Agios, and then we returned to Mochlos. The marina revisited and the return to Mochlos were the deja vu bits. So here comes the picture-log:

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Champagne at Nick’s at 9.00 am!

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Champagne view of Nick’s pool and beyond (I’m in the wrong business ….)

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Picking up the RIB in Mochlos for the ‘white-knuckle’ ride to Agios Nikolaos

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The harbour at Agios Nikoloas where we were picked up by Nick 4 years ago….

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At the end of the journey back in Mochlos – transporting to the dinghy from the main boat to go ashore was probably the most difficult part!

The following day we actually celebrated the anniversary (a day late as Nick was not available on the previous evening). It was a good turn out for the evening dinner at Koxilia, including, as ever, our good Greek friends from Mochlos Mare (Panayiotis, Sterei, Yiorgos & Demeter) where we stayed on our wedding night four years ago; also Willie & Liz from Istron (down the road a bit); Tina, Tristan & Deanna from the archaeological school at Pachia Ammos;  Nick, his daughter Caren, her husband Martyn, and their children Milly & Lucy from Wales.  Fortini joined us briefly, and so did a musician called Niko who played for us for a glass of raki – no idea who he was or where he came from – or where he went!P1000723

Lucy & Milly and Niko, the ‘impromptu’ musician 

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Martyn’s selfie – of us all (well, nearly!)

Sarah and I (and Nick) left Koxilia around 12.30 am and headed for Bar Raki. We had a fabulous evening with great company and got home at 3.30 in the morning. We had a ‘quiet next day’ – certainly didn’t get up in time for another sunrise – but had another full moon rising the following week:

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Full moon rising from Koxilia’s (9.00 pm)

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Artemus Smith’s Notebooks

I have discovered another volume of Artemus’ notebooks (followers will recall Dr Artemus Smith was an archaeologist of great courage, determination and fiction). Here is another extract:

Being over 60 I was complaining to my good friend, Randolph Peabody-Gryppe that I was feeling somewhat unfit. He sent the following instructions to remedy the situation:

Begin by standing on a comfortable surface, where you have plenty of room at each side.

With a 5-lb potato bag in each hand, extend your arms straight out from your sides and hold them there as long as you can. Try to reach a full minute, and then relax. Each day you’ll find that you can hold this position for just a bit longer.

After a couple of weeks, move up to 10-lb potato bags.

Then try 20-lb potato bags and for those of you who feel really strong, try to get to where you can lift a 40-lb potato bag in each hand and hold your arms straight for more than a full minute.

After you feel confident at that level, put a potato in each bag.

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