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.