Tuesday, 16 August 2011

The Glenelg Iron Age Brochs

Dun Telve

I’ve recently returned from holiday on the Glenelg peninsular in Scotland, just across from the Isle of Skye on the west coast. Three miles down the road were two brochs or dry stone, hollow walled towers that date from the 1st cent. BC/AD called Dun Telve and Dun Troddan.

Dun Telve

Brochs are the most spectacular of a complex class of roundhouse buildings found throughout "Atlantic Scotland".

Dun Troddan

The construction is rather strange in that there are steps and floors in the hollow walls that suggest they served as corridors, although they do get rather narrow the further up you go.

Dun Troddan internal staircase

Brochs' close groupings and profusion in many areas may suggest that they had a primarily defensive or even offensive function, although it is probably best to consider broch sites individually in that there may never have been a single common purpose for which every broch was constructed.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

A ghostly apparition of Carausius

I was leafing through the 1948 volume of Seaby's Coin and Medal Bulletin when I came upon a note by Edith M Mellor on the reported ghostly visits through the ages of the Romano-British usurper Carausius:

"When any great crisis in our history has been successfully surmounted, or about to be, Carausius is said to lead his triumph once again through Britain. The most curious feature of the story is that persons of 3 different centuries, two Elizabethan undergraduates, a divine of Queen Anne's reign and a young yachtsman of the Napoleonic era all claim to have seen him, and have left record in writing to that effect. The details of the apparitions encountered do not vary. First in the procession come the Roman soldiers, marching in ranks, then lions led in front of a golden chariot in which stands a man in a laurel wreath of great statue, powerful physique and most forbidding appearence, Carausius himself. After the chariot come fair haired captives dragged along in chains, and then more legionaries.

(1) The two Elizabethans said they "suffered a strange enchantment" while they were bathing in a mere near Cambridge, when they saw the Emperor and his train approach the edge of the mere and vanish in it.

(2) The clergyman and his party from Westmorland were just taking an al fresco lunch on their way to revisit his old University by coach, when they saw the triumph approaching them.

(3) The young yachtsman saw it parade along the bank of the broad, in which his boat was moored and sent a letter to his father describing it.

A friend of my own, an archaeologist, working in Suffolk towards the end of the Great War, was assured by the old country people that everything would be well because "that old there Roman Circus is on the move again""