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9959.  Tue Nov 02, 2004 4:34 am Reply with quote

Fred: didn't I read somewhere that the latest research indicates that everything we think we know about the Celts (ie all the stuff about them being driven into Wales and Cornwall by the "English") is nish and nosh?

9963.  Tue Nov 02, 2004 7:39 am Reply with quote

This is true. We had a very long thread on GUT devoted to exactly this premise.

9968.  Tue Nov 02, 2004 10:10 am Reply with quote

Can we nick it?

Frederick The Monk
9980.  Tue Nov 02, 2004 1:02 pm Reply with quote

The subject of 'Celts' opens a whole can of worms, Flash - don't go there. Even the term 'Celt' is rather suspect having a lot more to do with 18th and 19th century Romanticism than ancient British history. As for the DNA evidence for the distrubution of Celtic and non-Celtic peoples in sub-Roman and early Saxon Britain it's a statistical minefield. Sadly many historians don't understand the statistical analysis that goes into interpreting these results and just spout figures like some deranged politician. I was sad to see that even the great Starkey did just this in the first episode of his new TV extravaganza. None of the Saxon academics I've spoken to about this (possibly with the exception of Heinrich Harker) think this DNA evidence is in the least conclusive.

9984.  Tue Nov 02, 2004 5:26 pm Reply with quote

I regret to say the thread has now disappeared Flash, but it ran and ran, over exactly the sort of ground that Fred describes.

However, there is a promising new thread headed by what could be a QI question - it's called How many Saxon Labourers Were Needed To Build One Norman Castle? - please note that castle conveniently begins with C.

The link to the thread - quite short so far - is

Frederick The Monk
9993.  Wed Nov 03, 2004 3:31 am Reply with quote

It all depends on what type of castle you want to build. The first Norman castles in England built directly after the conquest were wooden and served the immediate purpose of defending the invasion force and providing them with a logistical base. These were probably built using some Norman as well as local peasant labour. Stone castles which replaced these early forts were a whole different proposition as their main purspose was to provide physical evidence of the imposition of Norman will on a Saxon population. I've never come accros any records for the time/ labour costs of building first generation castles but there are good accounts surviving for later castle building campaigns, notably Edward I's campaign in North Wales.

There's a good discussion of all this in Pounds, N.J.G., The Mediaeval Castle in England and Wales - A Social and Political History.

10003.  Wed Nov 03, 2004 5:52 am Reply with quote

I quite like this idea of the Celts being a Victorian construct. I know that's not quite what you said, but is there a glib one-line version of this argument which would suit a light entertainment / general knowledge quiz show on TV, supposing we could think of one? Or are you saying that it's just too complex an issue to be treated that way?

10005.  Wed Nov 03, 2004 6:01 am Reply with quote

In case we do do something on Celts, this is from Gaazy's post 10001 on the general board:
Here in Wales we sympathize with the Hawaiians - the Welsh language was similarly suppressed, and schoolchildren were not only beaten for speaking it but told to inform on their classmates. To encourage this, a gadget called the "Welsh Not" was introduced - a slab of wood with the letters "W.N." carved on it and threaded on a string. The first child of the day to speak Welsh had the Welsh Not hung on his neck, but it was passed on by the teacher to the next child heard speaking the language. It was the child wearing the Welsh Not at the end of the day who was beaten (see Recalling this still raises hackles here.

A usable snippet, I would think. Possible question:

Q: At the end of the day, what would happen if you had a Welsh Not around your neck?

Pictures of Welsh Nots and this:
The following pages have been selected from the Log Book of the Towyn British School, Merionethshire, for the period 1863-7. This Log Book contains numerous references to the attempts of Mr Edwin Jones, the headmaster, to prevent the children from speaking Welsh. In the entry shown on this page (14 August 1863), he says that he is 'at a loss to know the best method to adopt in order to prevent the children generally from speaking Welsh'. He explains that he has decided to use a 'Welsh stick' or 'Welsh Not' in order to punish the children who are caught speaking Welsh.

The 'Welsh Not' was used in some schools during the eighteenth and nineteenth century in a bid to prevent pupils from speaking Welsh. The 'Welsh Not', which usually consisted of a small piece of wood or slate inscribed with the letters 'W.N', was hung around the neck of a child who was caught speaking Welsh. At the end of the school day, the child wearing the 'Welsh Not' would be punished by the schoolteacher.

at a website called Gathering the Jewels, at
although the punishment logged in this case is a half-hour detention.

Frederick The Monk
10011.  Wed Nov 03, 2004 7:23 am Reply with quote

is there a glib one-line version of this argument which would suit a light entertainment / general knowledge quiz show on TV, supposing we could think of one?

Let me have a quick shifty in a few books and I'll get back to you.

10013.  Wed Nov 03, 2004 7:38 am Reply with quote

It might not need to be a question - the word "Celt" could be used as a "C" way into the topic of Wales (which I think ought to be productive one way or the other because of Alan and his somewhat tenuous Welshness), but Stephen might want to add a bookish aside about how they aren't really Celts at all, or whatever is appropriate.

10931.  Wed Nov 17, 2004 1:04 pm Reply with quote

In the province of Chubut in Patagonia there are generations of people - around 5,000 individuals - who speak Spanish and Welsh. No English - just Spanish and Welsh. They are descended in the main from Welsh speakers who set up a colony there in 1865 to esape from the influence of English. The need to communicate locally, and intermarriage, led to the present linguistic oddity.

One of their number, Luis Austin, was recently detained for questioning for 7 hours at Gatwick airport because the authorities couldn't believe his story.

The place now is quite unique - the land of the gauchos dotted with chapels and ringing to the sounds of hymn-singing and Eisteddfodau (one of my compositions was a set work in the last one).

Amazingly, the language survived even direct rule from Argentina which banished Welsh from schools and local government, and its use is actually increasing these days.

The history:


A good précis:

11192.  Thu Nov 25, 2004 4:26 am Reply with quote

(Also C for Cremation):

Cremation became legal in Britain largely because of a vegetarian nudist who believed in free love, wore a fox pelt on his head and called his son Jesus Christ.

William Price trained as a doctor in Caerphilly and London. He was vigorously anti-smoking, refusing to treat patients who did so. His own herbal potions were dispensed to the sick along with some druidical chanting to aid the process.

An avowed republican, he threw in his lot with the Chartists and was forced to flee to Paris after the failure of the Newport rising in 1839.

Price christened their son Jesus in a move apparently designed to enrage local churchgoers; the child died in infancy, prompting the act for which Price is most remembered - On January 18th 1884, he burned the child’s body in front of onlookers on a Llantrisant hillside. He was prosecuted but the court ruled in his favour – establishing the legality of cremation once and for all.

11193.  Thu Nov 25, 2004 4:35 am Reply with quote

Possible way into Welsh topic:

Q: what do the following have in common - the area of Amazon rainforest lost in 2003, the total amount of all forest lost throughout the world in 2003, Tsavo National Park in Kenya, Ruaha National Park in Tanzania, Kruger National Park in South Africa, the Kalahari Game Reserve in Botswana, the Mesopotamian marshlands before 2001, and Costa Rica?

A: They are all said to be "the size of Wales".

11218.  Thu Nov 25, 2004 10:11 am Reply with quote

Just found this site, which may be of assistance:

I was actually searching for verification of the factoid that it's still legal to kill any Welshman within the walls of Chester after dark, so long as it's with a bow and arrow (or is it a crossbow?), and not on a Sunday.

Apparently the same restriction doesn't apply in Hereford, where you may kill a Welshman on any day of the week.

11223.  Thu Nov 25, 2004 10:41 am Reply with quote

We tend to get a bit jumpy around these "obsolete-but-extant law" stories - they are a bit too abundant on the internet and in trivia books for our taste, they are basically unverifiable, and it plainly isn't the case that you can legally kill Welshmen in Chester in reality. So they bring us out in nervous giggles and a rash.


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