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Author Topic: Short and sweet - ideas for "icebreakers"  (Read 9824 times)

Phyllis

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Short and sweet - ideas for "icebreakers"
« on: August 16, 2016, 09:14:50 AM »
Dear all

I wonder if you can help? (she asked confidently)

Our experience of hosting tables at events is that people like icebreaker / factoid / soundbite pieces to grab their attention and help open up discussion about Anglo Saxon Goodness. I am thinking of something like the following (and I'm making up the numbers here for the sake of example!)

"Of the 100 most common words in English, 96 are Anglo Saxon"

"The Anglo Saxons ruled for 600 years compared to just 400 years for the Romans"

And so on...

We are thinking of making postcards to put out on the table to act as ice breakers for visitors.

So my question to you is: what postcard factoids would you include?

Thanks everyone!

Phyllis
Phyllis

Bowerthane

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Re: Short and sweet - ideas for "icebreakers"
« Reply #1 on: August 17, 2016, 02:20:38 PM »
Ooh  :P !

Well, what about “Biggest comeback since Jesus” or at least “England’s greatest king” in honour of dear old King Alfred?

Also, isn’t it the case that Old English abbesses, not just abbots and bishops, were summoned to witanmoots?  In which case “First female legislators” would be a hell of an eye-opener.

You could surely have: “Queens of Tapestry”. I’m under the impression that Bishop Odo had to commission the Bayeux Tapestry from a group of English needlewomen in or around Canterbury because there were no needlewomen in Normandy capable of doing work to that standard.  For the same reason nobody else could, for didn’t popes send to Old England for opus anglicorum to decorate the Vatican, because we were the best?

( I always think this is a point worth labouring since, if my understanding serves, tapestries and embroidery are one of those “high value, low bulk” exports, like Swiss watches, that economists regard as sorely under-rated. This is no feminine frippery we’re talking about: like the superior currency system, opus anglicorum did the Old English economy ( and national prestige) a power of good.  And we know some Old Englishwomen landholders paid their rent in altar-cloths and the like.)

Then there’s “World’s oldest surviving State structure.” Since Kipling’s “bones of shire and state” refer, I always take it, to the fact that our basic constitutional set-up, of Crown-in-Parliament for national government and self-government-by-order-of-the-Crown for local government, has undergone no great or prolonged break since at least AD 928. It was then King Athelstan brought Northumbria under central control, giving England more or less the geographical footprint it has had, to this day.  Unless size doesn’t matter, in which case I suppose you’d take it back to AD 921 when King Edward the Elder brought King Alfred’s shrieval system north of the Thames and ruled Wessex and Mercia under a common crown ( no longer as a bretwalda).

Then there’s “Oldest surviving germanic literature” ( Fourth Century Gothic is older but that’s from East Germanic.  All surviving germanic languages are from West Germanic). Though maybe you could get away with “Oldest Western written vernacular”, since I’m not aware of any major modern Western language with significant writings reaching back as far as Old English.

You could also try “Most comprehensive and cultivated vernacular literature in the West before 1066” if you want to give people an idea of the mockingbird the Normans killed.

Or what about “Saviours of Civilisation” if you want to go into Bishop Anselm and his team’s role in saving most of Western Civilisation’s literary heritage from the Classical world, in Carolingian Gaul?  Seven out of ten of the Classical texts that inspired the Renaissance, I understand, can be traced to copies made by them in the ‘palace school’ at Aachen. ( And if you really want to put the cat amongst the pigeons, there’s “Educators of the French”).

Er... “First attempt to fly in AD 1010” if you’re inclined to think William of Malmesbury didn’t cut the story about Brother Elmer out of whole cloth.

“First royal writs”: the standard form, with the royal seal bound to the foot by a ribbon, is known from AD 1042 under Edward the Confessor, though the general idea seems to date back to King Alfred’s time.

“First recorded deathrock strike” on the Moon at any rate.  Readings taken by Apollo astronauts confirmed that the Moon was struck by an asteroid-sized object circa  AD 734 ( “rung like a bell” I think one astrophysicist called it), which seems to confirm that year’s entry in ( IIRC!) the Winchester copy of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle that the Moon turned blood red at cockcrow, of a morning. Just get a cool photograph of astronauts on the Moon on the postcard, Phyllis, upside-down to the text.  That’ll make heads turn.

Also what about “The Years of Grace”, the old way of referring to the Anno Domini dating convention?  We all know the Venerable Bede popularised the practice.  To say “the Years of Grace began in England” has a lush, Tennysonian resonance to it don’t you think? 

( Any poetically gifted ġesíþas care to get to work on that? Something like the refrains that end the stanzas of Pearl, maybe.)




Bowerthane

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Re: Short and sweet - ideas for "icebreakers"
« Reply #2 on: August 18, 2016, 02:53:05 PM »

Supplemental:

What about Neil Armstrong’s words: “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind” followed by, “Which word above is NOT from Old English?” ( the answer is ‘giant’).

Also, what about this as a riddle:

   He taught the world of time and space
   who in England began the Years of Grace.

To which “the Venerable Bede” is the answer. 

Only I’m sure anyone of real poetic talent can improve that effort out of all recognition.







Phyllis

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Re: Short and sweet - ideas for "icebreakers"
« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2016, 07:26:10 PM »
Oh Bowethane, that's great! And you might like to know I already have some of them!

We have the "One small step" with an astronaut picture laminated, which is what got me thinking of others! I was trying ot think of one for Bede and I love the idea of the Years of Grace


Here are the ones I have thought of, just to see if it nudges any more thoughts. They aren't such poetic phrases, but that can be dealt with :)
•   The Staffordshire Hoard, found in 2009, totals about 5 kg of gold, 1 ½ kg of silver and 3,500 cloisonné garnets
•   Offa’s Dyke, which was built on the orders of King Offa of Mercia (757-796), is 140 miles long and can still be seen in some places today
•   Bede (672-735) wrote over 60 books during his life, most of which have survived
•   King Alfred (849-899) is the only English monarch to be given the title of “Great”
•   The nickname of Ethelred II, “the Unready”, really means “ill-advised”
•   Although Augustine was sent by Pope Gregory the Great in 597 to bring Christianity to Britain, there were already Christian communities in the country established by the Romans or by Irish missionaries
•   The “Bayeux Tapestry” is actually an embroidery and was sewn by English craftswomen in the 1070s, only a few years after the Battle of Hastings
•   The “Codex Amiatinus”, weighing over 75 lbs (34 kg), is the earliest surviving manuscript of the Latin Bible in the world and was produced in Northumbria around 700

I agree with you about the embroidery - it was the Designer Must Have of the day as I understand it, eg the maniple and stole of St Cuthbert, and the Maaseik embroideries. I also read that a cope and two chasubles burnt in the 14th century recovered over two hundred and fifty pounds worth of gold, and that many items were burnt for that reason. (I should probably add that as another fact...)

Phyllis
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Bowerthane

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Re: Short and sweet - ideas for "icebreakers"
« Reply #4 on: August 22, 2016, 03:04:16 PM »

Only too glad to help, Phyllis.  As for the Codex Amiatinus, I’m under the impression it is also the international standard ‘check copy’ for Bible translators and scholars.  Or were you ahead of me on that, too? 

Actually, if you want a quip to sum up Old England in the round I’d say: “Victim of its own success”.  When I last knew anything about it, it was our reputation for being a prosperous land that drew the Vikings down on us, specifically because the high reputation for consistent weight and purity Old English pennies enjoyed meant that Vikings trading overland with Byzantium insisted on being paid in them ( and hasn’t an Old English penny been found just outside Moscow?).  That, opus anglicorum and the quality of the wool ( prized by the Arabs even), I fear, made us a tempting target for military adventurers – and the Normans were one too many.

Which reminds me: don’t forget to point out that Domesday Book was the work of English clerics working in a tradition of bureaucratic efficiency going back to the Tribal Hidage.  Better than anything the Normans could do for themselves.

Or am I teaching my grandmother to suck eggs, again?




Phyllis

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Re: Short and sweet - ideas for "icebreakers"
« Reply #5 on: August 22, 2016, 08:19:12 PM »
Well, Bowerthane, no egg sucking here! I like to get my understanding confirmed by others who are more knowledgeable :)

I have read that the Codex Amiatinus is the oldest copy of the Vulgate translation by Jerome (I think that's right?) and as you say, the basis for all the rest. I also saw reference to a grant for the purchase of about 2000 head of cattle by the Monastery to provide the vellum required for it, so there must be a nice number quote there somewhere. 2000 cattle for goodness sake!

Certainly the amounts of Heregeld raised for Swegen / Cnut  were pretty phenomenal (higher than anything since then when adjusted I think? I saw something about equivalent values recently - must try and find it again) and demonstrated the efficiency of the bureaucracy as well as the astounding wealth of the country.

"The Anglo Saxons sold wool to the Arabs and made a Bible for the Pope" :)

Wes hal
Phyllis
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Eanflaed

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Re: Short and sweet - ideas for "icebreakers"
« Reply #6 on: August 27, 2016, 01:44:17 PM »
These are all great ideas :) . Expanding on the oldest state idea, I tell people that as a political entity Hampshire is older than France. They usually enjoy the one-upmanship - umless they are french of course!


Our queen, of course, is a descendant of King Alfred - and possibly King Harold! (I can bring the necessary proof to our next event).


Our shires survived from AS times to 1974 intact - and they are still recognisable (apart from the metro counties and some border changes).


The famous clauses of the Magna Carta (39 and 40) are AS ideas.


Famous quotes, like your moon landing one, always go down well. Churchill's famous speech from the phrase "we shall fight them on the beaches" onwards is pure AS, apart from the word "surrender".

Bowerthane

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Re: Short and sweet - ideas for "icebreakers"
« Reply #7 on: September 05, 2016, 02:50:10 PM »
The best of my information about the Codex Amiatinus is that it is the oldest complete Latin Bible to survive in one piece from anywhere in the world.  I’m presuming it’s Jerome’s Vulgate translation as I don’t think the earlier, Old Latin translation is known to have survived in mainland Britain, though copies of it here need not be surprising as the Old Latin was known in Ireland.

Seemingly it’s in Florence now and you’re right about the weight.  It takes two porters to bring it out for scholars.  Abbot Ceolfrid died bringing it to Rome in AD 716, so one good icebreaker may be to suggest that he tried carrying it there, by himself. 

Some Pythonesque cartoon on the postcard, perhaps?


***

__________________________________________
Our queen, of course, is a descendant of King Alfred
__________________________________________


And therefore from Woden, Eanflaed!  The One-Eyed Wonder, March-warden of Middle-Earth, the original Dreamweaver, the Raven-whisperer, the Rune-winner and all-round shamanic healer and hero.  I’ve floated that past the ears of a few ‘New Agey’ types and Neopagan friends and it put a right buzz in their bonces.  Bit of a catch twenty-two to any trendy anti-monarchism! 

Proof of course would come from Her Maj touching for scrofula.  Seemingly this custom lapsed as lately as the accession of Queen Victoria and only because, as a nicely brought-up Hanoverian gel, young Vicky didn’t fancy touching just anybody’s scrofula scars.

( Thanks to the Queen Mum, the Queen’s descended from some Celtic deity too.  Did you know she is also a qualified heavy goods vehicle mechanic, too? How’s that for a trivia question!).



____________________________________________________________________________________
The moral right of the author to be identified on the Board of Governors for St Trinians has been asserted.

Phyllis

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Re: Short and sweet - ideas for "icebreakers"
« Reply #8 on: September 27, 2016, 07:24:17 PM »
Hi all

I thought I would update on teh Icebreakers which we tried out at Stamford Bridge.

They seemed to work quite well - people would gaze at them then ask a question, so it seemed to help those not confident with the topic. They were more successful when they were not in the middle of other things. I out them out on the table with only one or two items (our helmet and sword, an embroidery sampler, and about 3 books - Learn Old English with Leofwin, the Illustrated Anglo Saxon Chronicle and Higham's and Ryan's The Anglo Saxon World). We also had Gesithas leaflets.

Most popular?
The one about Anglo Saxons ruling for 600 years, the one about Anglo Saxon embroidery (but we were at Stamford Bridge where they were launching the SB Tapestry), the one about the Queen being descended from Woden, the one about the Codex Amiatinus and the one about the Staffordshire hoard.

I am attaching the PowerPoint I used to produce them as A5 sheets - you have to cut them in half. I am aware they are not be perfect (especially the years of Viking rule - I only counted Cnut, foolishly). It was good start though because then we talked about the Viking rule in York and the Danelaw and Anglo-Scandinavians :)

In any case, it's a start of some kind.

Phyllis






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David

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Re: Short and sweet - ideas for "icebreakers"
« Reply #9 on: September 28, 2016, 07:57:51 AM »
Phyllis,


These sheets are great!


I have just printed them out to take to The King Harold Day and Battle.

Phyllis

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Re: Short and sweet - ideas for "icebreakers"
« Reply #10 on: September 29, 2016, 07:06:54 PM »
Thanks, David  :)

Phyllis

Bowerthane

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Re: Short and sweet - ideas for "icebreakers"
« Reply #11 on: September 30, 2016, 02:52:12 PM »
Aha yes, I've just  :-[  got the knack of downloading them and they are good, aren't they?  Pleased with my little self that some of my suggestions proved usable.

A job well done, Phyllis ;D !




Eanflaed

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Re: Short and sweet - ideas for "icebreakers"
« Reply #12 on: September 30, 2016, 11:07:05 PM »
You are a goldmine of ideas, Bowerthane, don't ever give up!

Phyllis

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Re: Short and sweet - ideas for "icebreakers"
« Reply #13 on: October 01, 2016, 04:48:13 PM »
It was a team effort! I couldn't do it without people helping me out :)
Phyllis

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Re: Short and sweet - ideas for "icebreakers"
« Reply #14 on: October 01, 2016, 05:33:02 PM »
I don't know whether this is correct (my Old English is not that good) but I was once told that Churchill's speech below all comes from the language, except for the last word 'surrender', which is from the Norman.   In other words, French!  It might attract your older visitors.


We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France,[/size]we shall fight on the seas and oceans,we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be,we shall fight on the beaches,we shall fight on the landing grounds,we shall fight in the fields and in the streets,we shall fight in the hills;we shall never surrender,[/color]
Wessex Woman