Posted in May 2016

Raging against Maypoles

There were a lot of pious folk complaining about the pastimes of the poor after the Reformation, but Maypoles seem to have been a particular focus for their wrath, though seldom explained why. This is from Thomas Hall, Pastor of King’s Norton, in a pamphlet ‘The Downfall of May Games, published, ironically, in 1660 when … Continue reading

A First for Early Australians

A difficult piece – should it be under news or olds? This is an incredible piece of archaeology, from Wednesday’s i paper: Archaeologists have unearthed the world’s oldest-known axe in Western Australia – dating back as far as 49,000 years – suggesting that early Aboriginal settlers may have been more cutting edge than they have been … Continue reading

Elephants Afraid of Drones

This is from yesterday’s i  paper, and is confusing reading as a recent report claimed that drones were being used to protect and monitor endangered elephants: Elephants have a deep-rooted dislike of drones, researchers have confirmed. Staff from Duke University in the USA were hoping to use the unmanned aircraft to monitor the elephant population in … Continue reading

Fairy Travel

This is another piece from Hobgoblin & Sweet Puck Fairy Names & Natures by Gillian Edwards. It seems to explain the origin of riding a broomstick. The fairies did occasionally ride horses, either their own or those they stole from mortals, or make themselves mounts out of straws from the fields, but chiefly as a pastime … Continue reading

PIL Chaos on American Bandstand

This was the band’s first appearance on the show, in 1980 but as John Lydon/Rotten had a reputation from the Sex Pistols, they must have expected something out of the ordinary. This is brilliant – the audience had no idea what was happening, but they all seemed to have had a great time. Full credits … Continue reading

The Duke of Shoreditch Archery

This is some more from The Sports & Pastimes of the English: Henry VIII, having appointed a great match of archery at Windsore, a citizen of London, named Barlow, an inhabitant of Shoreditch, joined the archers, and surpassed them all in skill; the king was so pleased with his performance that he jocosely gave him … Continue reading

A Woman Not to be Messed With

Our female ancestors are often seen as oppressed and controlled by men, but I defy anyone to try to steer this woman. This is from Addison, in his Spectator magazine, 1711: I have, very frequently the opportunity of seeing a rural Andromache, [he seems to be referring to the Amazon leader rather than Hector’s wife] … Continue reading

Seafaring Red Deer

This is again from the latest Current Archaeology: Red deer reached Britain about 10,000 years ago as ice sheets withdraws, but they did not reach the Orkneys or Outer Hebrides for another 5,000 years. But recent genetic research shows the two groups were not genetically the same. More intriguingly, the deer DNA from Orkney and … Continue reading

Feats in archery

This is some more from Sports and Pastimes of England, published in 1800. If the metrical romances and ballads of the former ages may be depended upon, the strength of our English archers in drawing the bow, and their skill in directing the arrow to its mark were justly objects of admiration… Adam Bell, Clum of … Continue reading

Golan Heights Cowboys

This is an oddity from Saturday’s i paper: With his wide-brimmed hat, Wrangler jeans and ornate belt buckle, Yehiel Alon could easily pass for one of the Montana ranchers he once worked with. But the 53-year-old is an Israeli cowboy on the Golan Heights bordering war-torn Syria, where frontier-life takes on a whole new meaning. … Continue reading