Tripped out 'celts'

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Hraefn
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Tripped out 'celts'

Postby Hraefn » Mon Oct 08, 2007 12:37 am

On another forum I post on a chap dumped the statment that the celts painted themselves in woad which is halluciegenic. Now having spoken to herbalists about this they say it's BS but I would like to throw the question out to those more in the know 'bout the period than I.
Did they and in particular the Picts or The Caledoneons 'wear' woad and any evidence to suggest that it helped you see fairys?

Also were the walls for this reason I really don't know as it's not my period but it sounds dodgy to me.

'that the Romans were able to conquer most of the British Isles, as the only people they were unable to conquer were the Picts, who fought with such wild and reckless abandon, most likely due to the effect of the woad, that the Romans were forced to build the fortified Antonine and Hadrian walls to keep them out of the rest of what is now England'

All advice/sources/info greatfully accepted or just tell me to bum off if you want. Ta.
Hraefn


That's my score to date. Three. I haven't killed anybody for years, and don't intend to ever again.'

Merlon

Postby Merlon » Mon Oct 08, 2007 1:07 am

Its more caustic than halluciegenic, creates scars rather than tattoos. Apparently now being researched as possible cancer drug.
http://www.hippy.com/albion/woad.htm
http://www.cyberpict.net/sgathan/essays/woad.htm
Among others will provide you with details



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squamatus
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Postby squamatus » Mon Oct 08, 2007 10:10 am

It's difficult to condense an answer on the "Wall" question into something less than a book, but here goes: :P

Reasons to invade Britain: Military prestige for the Emperor; Rumours of valuable natural resources (silver from Cornwall, gold from Wales)

Progress: Made it up to about Inverness (won the battle of Mons Graupius); Didn't find any gold etc, in "Scotland"; Gask Ridge Frontier established; Legio XX begin Fortress at Inchtuthil, north of Perth. Problems on Danube frontier [:roll: - there goes the XIVth!] requires a legion to be withdrawn from Britain (c86 CE). Gradual withdrawal back to Tyne-Solway isthmus.

Hadrian: Decides to make permanent frontiers for whole empire. Britain has a large garrison; lots of stone about... Bit of a statement of power? Hadrian's Wall is not a static defence. Runs through client tribal territories. Forts on both sides.

Antoninus Pius: Needs military prestige (see original invasion reasons) "Invades " the North - already proven not to be much trouble [in this period, at least] and builds another Wall. Not economically viable, so once point made, empire withdraws back to Hadrian's Wall.

Later on: Mass migrations weaken the empire... lots of battles & stuff :? ... Ruins declared a World Heritage Site (still working on the Antonine Wall, but soon!) :wink:

Could the Romans have conquered the whole of Britain? Almost certainly, after all they managed the Alps, and the Pyrenees, which - to be fair - give the Highlands a run for their money.

Apologies for huge omissions and over simplifications, etc! :oops:



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Hraefn
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Postby Hraefn » Mon Oct 08, 2007 10:56 am

No apologies needed as it's loads more than I knew and gives me a starting point and perfect excuse to go fill in details for meself. "off to the library dear,what , oh well yeah, I may visit the pub after if I've got time" :D and I'm always up for learning new stuff in fact the more the merrier.

Thanks Hraefn


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Postby Gyrthofhwicce » Mon Oct 08, 2007 12:25 pm

It's been thought that Woad was used because of it's coagualting (?)properties - and that it cased bleeding to stop quicker.


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Postby Attilla the Bun » Mon Oct 08, 2007 1:24 pm

It is a styptic, so would be useless for tattoing, which is sometimes claimed to have beeb used for, and also slightly antiseptic, two good reasons to wear it in battle.

I've always thought that it might also have been considered to be a bit of a magic substance, if you've ever watched woad-dyeing, where a greeny-yellow dye bath produces wool that miraculously turns blue in the air. I've heard children ask "is it magic?"


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madoc

Postby madoc » Tue Oct 09, 2007 11:54 am

There is a bit of a disagreement between the Roman sources as to what the Britons are doing. According to caesar, for example, we are all wearing animal skins. Then of course, we're all painting ourselves and then we're all wearing fantastic clothing in different colours.
One thing is certain, is that we quite alot of mail armour finds for the pre-roman period so many were going to war pretty well equipped.

As to the Wall.
Britain is never an easy province, either to conquer in the first place or to hold onto. There are a number of rebellions in the first 50 years and some evidence to say further ones into the second century (plus all those you never hear of)
In fact, the Romans have to go back into Scotland with fire and sword on a number of occasions over the proceeding years. We also have a relatively large number of troops based here, probably for a very good reason. I think the wall is there, for all the reasons given, but also to keep someone out.

There is an interesting theory that the picts are not a native race to scotland and only turn up in the 3rd century. In any case, pict is likely not even from the latin meaning painted, but more likely a variation of "briton" or even "pirate". Again, you pays your money and takes your choice

You have to be soooooo careful to tread a credible line through the minefield of this period and not look like something from the latest Hollywood movie ...



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Postby m300572 » Tue Oct 09, 2007 4:14 pm

is that we quite alot of mail armour finds for the pre-roman period


Kirkburn and a couple from late IA burials in the SE - how many more are there? The archaeology suggests that most IA warriors wouldn't have worn mail or helmets otherwise there should be a lot more in burials. High status types yes, ordinary farmers no.


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madoc

Postby madoc » Tue Oct 09, 2007 6:56 pm

Of course, you suppose that mail and helmets ARE part of the burial ritual. I believe there are more mail finds (Kirkburn, Stanwick - c. 50AD , Lexden - 15-20BC, Baldock 20-35AD, St Albans c 50AD riveted,
Maiden castle 1stBC to 1st AD, Woodeaton c 1st AD, Hayling Island early 1st AD) than from later saxon and viking periods ...

Personally, I don't think Iron age farmers went to war, on a regular basis, any more than any other farmer would at any other period.



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Postby zauberdachs » Thu Oct 11, 2007 10:26 am

out of interest how much of the mail was riveted and how much was butted?


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m300572
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Postby m300572 » Thu Oct 11, 2007 11:12 am

madoc wrote:Of course, you suppose that mail and helmets ARE part of the burial ritual. I believe there are more mail finds (Kirkburn, Stanwick - c. 50AD , Lexden - 15-20BC, Baldock 20-35AD, St Albans c 50AD riveted,
Maiden castle 1stBC to 1st AD, Woodeaton c 1st AD, Hayling Island early 1st AD) than from later saxon and viking periods ...

Personally, I don't think Iron age farmers went to war, on a regular basis, any more than any other farmer would at any other period.


Mail is certainly included in the burial rituals as grave goods. I wasn't aware of the Maiden Castle, Woodeaton or Hayling finds (the problem of too much information out there, its impossible to keep up nowadays). The problem with the very late stuff (even just pre-invasion like Baldock) that its not necessarily locally made but might have come in as diplomatic gifts or trade (along with the amphorae etc). The St Albans find, if it is AD 50 is post conquest, even if only by a few years.

With the helmets I am not sure if there are any real Britis hhelmets in existence - Battersea is a strange object and the other well known one (the "jockey hat") is not from a secure context.

Frequency of going to war depends on which period of history and where in the counry you study - Border farmers were at war both across the borders and between families more or less continuously for hundreds of years, usually in the form of small scale raiding and feuds, during the late medieval and early post medieval period. Likewise the Highlands of Scotland were noted for their lawlessness, mainly by the Lowlanders who were the targets of persistant low level agression for a long period - so its possible that some areas of Iron Age Britain, at some stages of the Irone Age (problem of discussing an 800 year odd timeframe in one lump), had farmers who would have gone off to war at a low level and much more rarely on a larger scale


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madoc

Postby madoc » Thu Oct 11, 2007 6:16 pm

Isn't the yorkshire Arras culture, where the kirkburn mailshirt is found, almost considered a separate culture ?

I doubt any of this mail could be considered roman by the sole virtue of it's size and construction method.

The helmet thing is a strange one. The meyrick and battersea (waterloo) helmet are the only two british finds. Lots of european helmets. This again argues for mail/helmets to not be included within the burial system. I believe much the same occurs in migration period burials.



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Postby m300572 » Fri Oct 12, 2007 1:02 pm

Its a while since I studied it as an academic discipline rather than trying to keep up for my own interest (about 25 years) but I think the concept of a 'culture' in the Arras sense is outdated - the East Yorkshire 'Arras' area was largely identified by square ditched burials and their contents which were similar in style to a group in the Arras area (hence the name) but the distribution of square ditched barrows in wider than thought when the Arras area was first defined. I spent some time trying to get funding to excavate an example which was part of a group in Lincolnshire and I think the burial on the line of the A1M which is outside the 'classic' E Yorks Arras area was square ditched (not sure about the recent Lothian example in terms of ditch hsape).

Perhaps the thesis should not be that mail and helmets were not part of the burial ritual (which is fine for helmets in UK - are the European helmets from burials?) but that they were sufficiently rare and difficult to replace that only in exceptional circumstances were they placed in burials - they certainly appear in graves and therefore WERE part of the burial ritual in some cases - the presence of other weapon types in graves, I would suggest, shows that if mail had been common it would have been included more often.

It may not be the case but there may be a danger of 'reenactorism' creeping in, where because re-enactors like fancy kit (and I can claim to be guilty of this when I was reenacting with a IA/Roman group 20 years ago) and are increasingly wearing helmets for safety reasons then the image of the Iron Age warband is of mail clad, helmet wearing warriors where neither the archaeology or the (very scanty) written record support this.

The late date mail cannot be consideered Roman purely by virtue of size and construction method, but neither can it be identified as definately IA and particularly when found in conjunction with exotic imprts, or is dated post invasion it could equally be a Roman supplied item. I don't think there is enough examples surviving and the survivial is insufficiently good to be able to identify specific techniques in manufacture or design in late IA and Roman mail to distinguish the two - I am not certain when the Romans started using rivetted mail, I'd be interested to know if continental material in use at the same time as the Kirkburn material was butted or rivetted.


Wilkes and Liberty, Wilkes and the Forty Five

madoc

Postby madoc » Fri Oct 12, 2007 6:44 pm

I'd be really interested in the evidence for burial patterns on the continent, with regard to deposition of helmets and armour in relation to spears and shields that would support this. Do you have some sources you could share ?

I have some numbers for european mail that shows some to be a little larger than the British equivalent. For example, Tiefenau at 14mm butted and Ciumesti 9.2mm butted and the multiple examples from Hjortspring which is 12mm. However, I know some are smaller (cannot find the site) so we must be cautious in making an arbitary judgement.
However, I did a google search and turned up this straight off:

http://www.armourarchive.org/essays/essay__maille_timetable.shtml

Which has more numbers than I had, but the construction method is different in a few cases to the actual report I have in my hand. :)

I am afraid my information on Roman mail isn't as good but I consulted RAT, where the sheddy blokes know far more than I, and the roman average is considered to be 5-7mm (i.e. there is quite alot in smaller gauge) and rivetted/solid.

On balance especially given the size of links (and unless the romans are knocking out cheap mail for "exports" :wink: ) then it is still likely that the british mail finds are genuinely british and the continental finds genuinely continental as opposed to roman "gifts". I think the iron breast fastener is unique, at Kirkburn, as the roman ones are copper alloy.

Your theory of a nation in arms, with "armed farmers" conducting warfare has been a useful one for re-enactors as it allows cheap access to the re-enactment battlefield, just a little bit of softkit (often just trousers) and a spear. The argument for this approach, in later periods, was always the Saxon fyrd, but I read somewhere that modern thinking has gravitated away from that. Perhaps someone else could comment ?

I've always wondered on the life expectancy of such farmers given the potential number of missile weapons being used. Obviously, re-enactors don't have to worry about that !

As I said you have to be careful to tread a credible line through the minefield of this period. For my part I'd look at pther contemporary societies and slightly later periods to try and understand how warfare may have been conducted. The Armes Prydein, Tain, Beowulf, for example, all give a little insight, (arguable again).

Arras culture also has the burial custom (possibly post burial) of shoving spears into the grave and often through the body. I thought that was unique, but I could be wrong.



m300572
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Postby m300572 » Tue Oct 16, 2007 9:57 am

Haven't hadtime to dig about in the library - I'll see what I can find as a solution to some of the questions.

Peter


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Postby Silverclaws » Wed Apr 02, 2008 1:46 am

Messed with woad in the past, a curious substance, never noticed hallucinogenic properties, but died fingers yes. Something which lasted days despite hefty scrubbings.

Also the colour was more a greenish blue, not dissimilar from RAF blue.

I swapped some bronze penanulars for woad balls.


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