Out Here On The Perimeter, There Are No Stars


 Light and Dark

“But in the night of thick darkness enveloping the earliest antiquity, so remote from ourselves, there shines the eternal and never-failing light of a truth beyond all question: that the world of civil society has certainly been made by men, and that its principles are therefore to be found within the modifications of our own human minds. Whoever reflects on this cannot but marvel that the philosophers should have bent all their energies to the study of the world of nature, which, since God made it, He alone knows; and that they should have neglected the study of the world of nations or civil society, which, since men had made it, men could hope to know.”


T.G.Bergin & M.H. Fisch, edit & trans, The New Science of Giambattista Vico


Beneath The Skin: Of Memory and the Hearts Blood

A Sense of Time: ‘Time Out of Mind’

Memory, Time Of.- In the old books, when a person alleges in legal proceedings, that a custom or prescription has existed from time whereof the memory of man runneth not to the contrary, that is as much as to say that no man then alive hath heard any proof to the contrary.  This is also called “time of living memory” as opposed to “time of legal memory,” which runs from the reign of Richard I…….”

Under My Skin

The text above formed an older post that kept passing through my mind whilst reading Thony on the dark ages.

Chiefly, as when reading comments and text briefly things really did start running to the contrary.   A messy subject. I think I managed to make the worst comments but no one successful came up with anything that worked at anything other than a general level.

I am far from an expert or authority here but the key parts I am familiar with, comments would not work when you applied them specifically to the subject in context or more specifically the small part you are familiar with (for me ethnicity in sub and post Roman Britain).

I think as well it causes me concern with regard to the debate in H.O.S in regard to history, professionalism and the media (I think the subject goes a bit further than this) and positions taken that the authoritative voice of the historian must be accepted.

I think if you have a stupid question you should always expose it, get it out in the open. Authority has to be questioned or how else can you learn?

In terms of the Dark Age, its clearly a term that’s got under peoples skin. Its still used by a range of historians (they have that luxury studying the subject as an undergrad you’re choices are more limited) . It gives me a sentimental warm glow when I read the term, it reminds me of older texts I was reading aged 14 onwards (and still do). I could tell from comments that Thony probably did the same thing from the language he used referring to the ‘barbarian horde’ in comments. First set foot, the flag planted on European soil for the first time (another popular old school variation), common terms long in use. This period forms the historical horizon for European culture, it is the start of historical memory. Its understudied and underfunded but it plays a central role  in the stories people tell about who they are and where they come from and that is always going to create difference and debate. As is the institutional professional environment and its various fiefdoms and factions.

As a creature of habit I use the term that was standard when I studied the period which was Early medieval history (the term Dark Age had only recently been dropped when referring to the subject at a more general and vague level would be Early Medieval Europe or if you want to get really clunky with language, Early Medieval Period)  or sub and post Roman Britain specifically. It seems to be becoming known as The Early Middle Ages, I should really switch as being dyslexic no matter I have used the word countless times I can never spell medieval without the use of a spell check. I know I wont use the term The Early Middle Ages, in the same way I know I will never wear purple satin flared trousers a vest and a gold chain. I am a creature tied to my past and its cultural norms.


A Dictionary of American and English Law with Definitions of the Technical Terms of the Canon and Civil Laws. Also, Containing a Full Collection of Latin Maxims, and Citations of Upwards of Forty Thousand Reported Cases, in which Words and Phrases Have Been Judicially Defined or Construed, 1888.

The Cuckoo Clock


Next weeks reading.

The Qualities of Time: Anthropological Approaches

“This book explores the relevance of classical ideas in the anthropology of time to the way we understand history, participate in the events around us, and experience our lives. Time is not just an abstract principle we live by or a local cultural construct: it is shaped, punctuated, organized, and suffered in complex ways by real people negotiating their lives and relations with others. Space may be opened up for politics, violence or revolutionary change within the framework of ceremonial markers of social time: holy days, festivals and carnivals. People create and recreate patterns in the way they imagine the past, present and future at such moments, through material objects, language, symbolic action and bodily experience. The rhythms of social life, including periodic episodes of sacred or special time, interact with ‘historical events’ in strange ways.”

Spill Forth

Beneath The Waves: Of Metaphorical Worlds Below the Surface

Trying to build up a full picture of the history of some of the motifs surrounding the consumption of blood. Blood spilled on the ground and the importance of not letting an individuals blood spill on the ground first. Looking at this as part of a wider context; the role of feasting and eating in relation to descriptions of violence.


Tori Rodriguez, Hidden Metaphors Get Under Our Skin, Scientific American

The Abominable History Of The Blood Drinker

“The Paraphrase”: Bloudy Slaughter Of Ernest Christian Beleeuers

1 And I sawe (saith Saint Iohn) in mistery a woman (for an whore at first bloush semeth only a woman) sitting vpon a rose coloured beast.

2 All rose coloured is this beast, in token of tirannous murther & blodshedding ouer those that will not agree to their diuillishnesse…….

5 Upon this beast sitteth a woman. For what els auau~ceth or beareth out this malignant muster in their copes, crosses, oyles, myters, robes, relickes, ceremonyes, vygiles, holy dayes, bles|sings, sensings, and foolings, but a wa~|ton foolish and fantasticall religion, a vayne glorious pompe, and a shinyng pretence of holynesse in superstition, (callyng it theyr holy church). Shée is sayd here to sit vpon this bloudy beast, as to be stayed, quieted, and setled by them…….

9 Ful of abhominacions is the drink of the excreable faith of that Romish religion receiued of other, & full of filthynes also, for both retaineth  people therof innumerable kinds of Idol worsippinges vnder the title of Gods seruice, and also their shauelinges of prodigeous beastlynes in lecherouse liuing vnder y colour of chastity.


15 And when I perceyued and sawe hir with all hir adders whelpes so beastyshe (sayth saynt Iohn) with exceading wonder I marueyled. Not only that she was thus ouerset with bloud, drinking, or outragious murthering of inocentes, but also of hyr excéeding great abhominacions.

16 And most of all I wondered that the almighty God could with so much paciSingle illegible letternce suffer hir in such mischiefe.


John Bale,  The image of both Churches after the most wonderfull and heauenly Reuelation of sainct Iohn the Euangelist, contayning a very fruitfull exposition or paraphrase vpon the same. Wherin it is conferred vvith the other scriptures, and most auctorised histories. Compyled by Iohn Bale an exyle also in thys lyfe, for the faithfull testimony of Iesu.



“for an whore at first bloush semeth only a woman”

Seems to contradict the statement I made in the previous discussion on Irish blood drinking. Return to that later.

Can’t Stand Up: Byssus Absorbed

The Return of The Upsetter: Ensnaring of Bitter Aftertaste

My New years resolution was to stick to one topic Nova species and do the research. For some reason I have slipped into my cups and turned seriously to drink.

Looked at alcohol consumption before and blood drinking never thought of looking at the two things together. See what similarities and differences are to be found in this little communion.

It also gives me the chance to return to a favorite early medieval subject not thought about in years and a return to dispute a subject I like.

Under Heavy Manners

See what a few weeks of researching the ethnology of drinking throws up and wither to stagger further with this boozy, bloody death of a subject. So far it refuses to die.


Strangely Familiar: A View of Ireland and Other Antient Repetitions

“A Real Mean Mother/ Look Out My Brother I Am A Very Angry Man…

Don’t Tell Me How to Live/ Don’t Tell Me how To Die…

Nobodies Lies but mine

“The Gauls used to drink their enemies blood and to paint themselves their with, so also they write that the old Irish were wont: and so have I seen some of the Irish do but not their enemies but friends blood, as namely at the execution of a notable traitor at limerick called Murrogh O’Brien, I saw an old woman which was his foster mother took up his head whilst he was quartered and sucked up all the blood running there out, saying that the earth was not worthy to drink it, and therewith also steeped her face and breast, and tore her hair, crying and shrieking out most terrible.”

I Will Not Die Though You Bury Me

The description of this practice can’t be viewed as alien and distinctly Irish for English readers who would have been familiar with the practice from within their own culture. The view presented of ethnicity is primal and unchanging, the practice however is far from culturally distinct with features that mark it as other. That’s not the message here, the intent would appear to be fully and very clearly understood. This blood scene is a site of bitterness and revenge; a situation with the potential to spill out of control.

Being Out Of Time

A being that is not allowed to die is a problematic creature. The group which would form to engage in violent dispute was the kindred. Irish society was co-agnatic, kindred was formed through marriage so each individuals even in a family group would take a different, form. This could be further augmented by other relationships, fosterage, god parenthood, friendship. A range of social stratagems formed this fluid group.


Tempting to see this form of activity as way of keeping a focal point for a group that would disintegrate when the key relationship that binds them together has died. The groups survival required being to survive the grave, to cry out through other mouths and motivate action.


Edmund Spencer, A Veue of The Present State of Ireland

“Driven by Drink”


The Gaul’s Invade Greece

“Every male they put to the sword, and there were butchered old men equally with children at their mothers’ breasts. The more plump of these sucking babes the Gauls killed, drinking their blood and eating their flesh.”

Pausanias, Description of Greece