Friday, 22 January 2010

Musings on St. Oswald and Bones.

Yesterday's post about bones being brought back to this country for analysis generated a lot of discussion. Opinions seem to be divided but on balance I think we all agree that these bones were an important find. Joanne of Titus the Dog sent me a very beautiful piece of poetry from Anglo Saxon times - the language is wonderful, the celebration all seems to be about winning a battle and leaving bones behind as they leave - but things were ever thus. And she does point out that Athelstan's reign was the first in which the country was united.
Dick puts me in a spot by asking me about the cult of St Oswald! I know little about St Oswald other than that he was a leading figure in the Benedictine Revival in the tenth century. I am not a Google person, so I got out my Oxford Companion to Literature. This is what it says about St Oswald:- He became a Benedictine monk and accompanied the Archbishop of York on a journey to Rome. (My goodness me, what imagery that conjures up - a journey to Rome in the tenth century was no mean feat and not to be undertaken lightly). In 961 he was appointed Bishop of Worcester and founded Benedictine Monasteries. He later became Archbishop of York but loved Worcester so much that when he died his remains were buried there.
I remember seeing his remains in the magnificent cathedral there.
After reading the excerpt from the poem which Joanne sent me I read a few pieces of poetry from that time and it does seem to me that most of the poetry was written in celebration of winning battles (I am sure somebody will correct me if I am mistaken). Sadly, it does seem as though as a species we are destined to be involved in wars. What millions of bones must lie deep under our soil where they fell in ancient battles - all somebody's sons, brothers, fathers, lovers, husbands. And yet we glorify this loss of life in poetry and prose.
Then of course I thought of Wootton Bassett and our men coming back from the war in Afghanistan; of the people who line the route, paying homage to the fallen, throwing roses in their path. Nothing changes, does it? The fallen are still somebody's loved ones and deserve our honouring them.
I hope Titus the dog will publish that poem for you to read - the language is so beautiful and Joanne obviously loves the Anglo Saxon period. Keep looking on her site - and I will give her a nudge in the right direction.
It is a grey, wet day here in The Dales, not particularly cold, just plain miserable. Keep warm.

17 comments:

Karen said...

baeautifully stated, Weaver. And I am so saddened by the truth of it, we are a species destined for war, and yet I hate every aspect of it and can see that it could all be avoided if there were no egos, more acceptance of differences, more compassion. What would it take?.... and is it truly impossible?

Too deep for today... the sun is out! I'm going for a walk with the dogs.

Coastcard said...

It occurs to me, Weaver, that your readers might also be interested in reading fellow blogger, Matt Merritt's recent post on the Staffordshire Hoard. Another fascinating story about our UK past. You can find Matt's Polyolbion blog here.

Incidentally, one of my jobs (alongside TEFL teaching) in the 1980s was to wash potsherds (Roman) and ancient animal bones - for a pittance!

Cindee said...

Good Morning Weaver. your blog is one of my very favorites. You always have some meaty subject and not just fluff or constant weather comments. Keep it up!
Cindee

Granny Sue said...

I too wonder why people must continually have wars. Do we never learn that the result is usually the loss of our young men and women and the destruction of our history? Apparently not. As the mother of five sons, four of whom were/are in the military, I find it difficult to read or listen to accounts of those lost in battle. One son still serves and my heart won't be easy until his time is up and he retires.

Elizabeth said...

So interesting that he loved Worcester.
The cathedral there is a wonder.
As for war, you know my feelings entirely.
A friend whose son in law is a US major who has been in Afghanistan and Iraq kicking down doors etc
has always had grave doubts the US/UK led mission in both places....
sad

Word verification: saysing
rather a nice word!

Heather said...

I am very lucky and have not lost anyone dear to me in war, but the phrase 'our glorious dead' always makes me feel angry. I don't see anything glorious about it and think it is high time we found an alternative to solving our differences. It's been a dismal day today here too, very similar to yours. I hope February doesn't live up to it's country name of February Fill Dyke or there will be more floods.

Sandy said...

I love Engiish history. I think it started when I was 12 and read a book in my parents bookcase - "Forever Amber" - a romance novel set in Charles II era. If I ever do go overseas I would love to visit the UK.

Teacup Lane (Sandy)

Kayla coo said...

It is so sad that we repeat our mistakes and never learn from the past wars.
A very interesting post.

Cloudia said...

Vole cities,
the ancient bones,
and returning warriors-

I thought I read you every day; how could I have possibly missed some?

IWI, bones, are very important to Hawaiians. They should not be disturbed- though of course they oft are in such a small place with modern building going on...There is an ossuarium here in Waikiki of them.

In olden days they were hidden, lest an enemy gain your Mana (power) or demean you by making lowly implements of them.

We feel deep pangs when the children return from war, ancient pangs...though we live longer than a royal 38 years.....

Aloha, dear Weaver


Comfort Spiral

Studio Sylvia said...

After WW1 and WW2, let alone alone all the other countless battles, I cannot understand how our kind continues to engage in such waste of life and the atrocities inflicted. I feel for the families whose loved ones are sent off to these encounters and I feel for the men and women who are engaged in these activities because the powers that be, have made the decisions.
Thought provoking, Weaver, as usual.

steven said...

weaver the image of a journey from york to rome in the tenth century - well the images - are mind-boggling. can you imagine what they would have seen and experienced?! its's extraordinary to me. have a lovely warm saturday in the dale. steven

Derrick said...

Hello Weaver,

Thanks for the resume of St. Oswald. As for bones and war we have a dilemma; we acknowledge the feats of people like Alexander the Great who conquered nations; the age of chivalry had rules of honour despite the slaughter; we know that war moves some men to heroic and selfless acts. When honouring the dead in Wooton Bassett, I think it is a combination of gratitude, guilt and a sense of folly.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Karen - hope you enjoyed your walk.

Caroline - thanks for the link to Matt's site.

Cindee - unfortunately I am not much good at writing fluff.

Sue - four sons in the military must have meant years of worry for you I would think.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Elizabeth - wise words and very true.
Heather - if we get tons of rain in February I shall now blame you for tempting fate.

Sandy - if you ever make our shores we shall be pleased to welcome you.

Kayla - thanks - as you say we will never learn.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Cloudia - interesting the attitude to bones in Hawaii.

Sylvia - of course the men who make the decisions are not the ones who stand in the line of fire are they?

steven - some of those journeys undertaken in days gone by must have been so daunting.

Derrick - well said,you have summed it up in a nutshell.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thanks to you all for your comments - as usual much appreciated.

Titus said...

Hi Weaver, got here a little late, but nudge taken.
Fascinating post of many strands and much to ponder.