Thursday, 21 January 2010

Old Bones.

I read in the Times that old bones have been found! I have never really understood why bones matter. My view of life is that once you have died, if your bones lie in the ground then they are part of the great scheme of things and not to be disturbed. They have, sort of, gone back to whence they came. But it appears that bones are an important part of history.
The year is AD 937 - King Athelstan has just become the first "official" King of England after winning the battle of Brunanburgh (are you still with me?). In order, I guess, to consolidate his position, he sends his two sisters - Eadgyth and Adiva - to Germany, to the Holy Roman Emperor Otto I and suggests that Otto choose one as a mate. Otto chooses Eadgyth and she lived with him in Saxony, as queen, until she died, aged 38.
Now archaeologists have discovered bones in a tomb which they think might belong to Eadgyth and have returned them to the University of Bristol for analysis.
It seems to have been a successful marriage - they had two children -Liudolf and Liutgarde and Eadgyth seems to have been responsible for introducing the cult of St Oswald to Saxony.
If you are wondering what happened to poor Adiva, who was not chosen by Otto - well she was married off to some unknown European ruler and disappeared - no bones found here.
If you wish to know more then try the University of Bristol web site - the bones I believe were on show yesterday at "Princess Eadgyth and her World".
In all this my uppermost thought is that it might have made for a better life (more food, clothes etc) to be royalty in Saxon times, but by golly you were likely to be sold off if you happened to be a woman. And if royalty died at 38 in those days, I wonder what the average age of death was here in Saxon times? Have a nice day.

19 comments:

Twiglet said...

Just linked to your blog from Elizabethm. Love your crafty bits - that book cover sounds interesting. Are you a 20 minuter too? If so you might enjoy a glimpse at our crafty bits and bobs - just follow the link to Sisters Crafty Creations from my blog. Love your photos - I lived in the flat bit of Yorkshire for 30 years - Selby/Howden

dinesh chandra said...

Good subject , Bones part of history .

Good to read regards

Dinesh Chandra

steven said...

hello weaver - can you imagine getting shopped off and maybe - just maybe - some stranger in another country will sign you on?!!! perhaps their short life spans would be a blessing under those circumstances. have a lovely day in the dale. steven

Poet in Residence said...

It's amazing what science can do with a bone fragment these days.

Good luck to the bunny rabbits!

Bovey Belle said...

There was an excellent piece in the Telegraph yesterday about this. As I have a degree in Archaeology, I can get very excited about some "old bones' being found!! Strontium isotope analysis will show where she grew up - whether in Wessex or elsewhere. The fact that her bones have survived for over a thousand years intact enough to be examined/identified is a wonder.

Glad my dad didn't try selling me off into marriage - don't think he'd have had them queuing down the street somehow!!

willow said...

It's amazing what history can be found from old bones. I am fascinated with history and old things buried in the earth. I would have made a great archaeologist. Loved this post.

Granny Sue said...

I'm listening to the Canterbury Tales right now and it seems that even in those times when were considered a trade item. So glad ot to have lived then!

I had not heard about the old bones. Off to check them out--thanks!

jinksy said...

I heard about the bones on Radio four early yesterday morning, but wasn't enough awake to remember whose they were. Thank you so much for filling in the gaps in my knowledge!

Derrick said...

Hello Weaver,

Sadly, women as chattels didn't die out with the Anglo Saxons! There are still many more around than we might like to imagine. But the bones are interesting. Anything that helps us uncover the past is good.

Golden West said...

Some might argue that computer matchmaking services are another form of arranged marriage... Albeit with the consent of those being matched.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

You know, I sort of feel the same way as you. It's always disturbed me that people feel entitled to "discover" ancient burial places, hauling them into the light of museums for tourists to view. Seems just wrong somehow.

mrsnesbitt said...

Silent Witness is on tonight.....love the investigating they do with bones lol!

Dave King said...

Yes, I read that, and a bit like you, wondered what all the fuss was about. At least no one's going to get excited about my bones - except as a case of mistaken identity, of course!

Heather said...

It doesn't bear thinking about Weaver. Young sisters and daughters could be married off to highest bidder or used as a political tool to placate a potential enemy. The 'Hollywood' version of these early times may not be the least bit authentic, but it is a good deal more comfortable than the reality. I like to think that the archaeologists who dig up these remains, treat them with respect.

Titus said...

Oh no, this is important stuff, Weaver!
Still no positive identification of the site of The Battle of Brunanburh, but it was the beginning of England as a "nation" as opposed to a loose confederation of Saxon tribes, and they trounced the Scots (Picts) and the Vikings (note to shug). There's also a surviving Anglo-Saxon poem to celebrate/commemorate the event - translated section below as I know you like your birds (sorry about seagull confession!)

"Departed then the Northmen in nailed ships.
The dejected survivors of the battle,
sought Dublin over the deep water,
leaving Dinges mere
to return to Ireland, ashamed in spirit.
Likewise the brothers, both together,
King and Prince, sought their home,
West-Saxon land, exultant from battle.
They left behind them, to enjoy the corpses,
the dark coated one, the dark horny-beaked raven
and the dusky-coated one,
the eagle white from behind, to partake of carrion,
greedy war-hawk, and that gray animal
the wolf in the forest.

Never was there more slaughter
on this island, never yet as many
people killed before this
with sword's edge: ...

I love Anglo-Saxon. It is sometimes the gloomiest poetry ever, an indication of how incredibly hard, and short, life was then, at the edges of the known world.

patteran said...

A fascinating fragment, Pat. Now, what is the cult of St Oswald? I could Google it, but I'd like your take!

Studio Sylvia said...

Yes Patteran, I was wondering the same thing. Weaver with advent of osteoporosis, some bones just wouldn't last the tests!

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thanks for visiting Twiglet - shall visit you now.

The Weaver of Grass said...

If you have a moment read that wonderful excerpt from an Anglo Saxon poem in Titus's comment. Seems these bones have brought out the discussion in you all. Having read all your comments I have been prompted into writing a second post on the subject of St Oswald.