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Author Topic: AS use of British folklore  (Read 17616 times)

ubique

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AS use of British folklore
« on: September 03, 2010, 08:19:31 PM »
Anybody have any ideas on how the early English felt/ adapted the British folklore they would have come into contact with.The only example I can think of is Herne the hunter who was either thought as of Woden due to his connections with horns,hunting and dwelling in trees similar to Woden hanging from a tree to win the runes.Is there similar cases of this where local legends were adapted to the AS pantheon or worshipped in the same way as Wights
 
The other example is Stonehenge being built by Giants/Jotuns
 
Over to you
Wassail

peter horn

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Re: AS use of British folklore
« Reply #1 on: September 03, 2010, 11:22:33 PM »
Anybody have any ideas on how the early English felt/ adapted the British folklore they would have come into contact with.The only example I can think of is Herne the hunter who was either thought as of Woden due to his connections with horns,hunting and dwelling in trees similar to Woden hanging from a tree to win the runes.Is there similar cases of this where local legends were adapted to the AS pantheon or worshipped in the same way as Wights
 
The other example is Stonehenge being built by Giants/Jotuns
 
Over to you
Wassail

Herne the hunter is from English folklore. I note that the first literary refernce to him is in Shakspere.
there are a lot of speculations about Herne. I cant think of any evidence that the AS came into contact with British foklore - nothing springs to mind.
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ubique

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Re: AS use of British folklore
« Reply #2 on: September 04, 2010, 08:30:50 AM »
The only other example I can think of is Weylands smithy a pre AS site that the english took on as there own giveing it aspects of there own lore

Bowerthane

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Re: AS use of British folklore
« Reply #3 on: September 04, 2010, 07:51:18 PM »
There's Grimes Graves on Thetford Chase in Norfolk.  These are Neolithic flint-mines, huge bottle-shaped holes in the ground with horizontal galleries leading off at the bottom.  Though how much was visible when the Anglo-Saxons turned up is anyone's guess.  Yet they seemed to have known or guessed they were diggings of some sort, and attributed them to Grima/ Woden.

Once I looked to see if Anglo-Saxon and Celtic elements can be disentangled in folklore, and it's all but impossible ( Shuck Dogs/ Black Shucks/ Shugs are the only exception I recall, because beliefs in them come mainly from the south-eastern, most heavily Saxonised parts of England).  Yet I think the general idea of dressing trees and dancing about them was common to both cultures.

Then there's St Hilda of Whitby, turning snakes into ( in fact) ammonites, and doesn't St Cuthbert have a fossil named after him, for some reason?


leofwin

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Re: AS use of British folklore
« Reply #4 on: September 05, 2010, 07:36:03 PM »
The more I read of British folklore, the more of a dark entangled forest I realize I'm in. If you consider how full of confusions, contradictions and different interpretations an organized religion like christinaity is, then it's no surprise that the stuff that 'natural religion' is even more hopelessly tangled up.

I guess the English who came to Britain found a collection of beliefs from the Iron Age and before, mixed up with pagan Roman ideas and a seasoning of Christianity too.

Given that 'Celtics' and 'Germanics' had a common cultural ancestry anyway, and continued to interact with each other even after they became culturally distinct, i'm not even sure how much mileage there is is trying to differentiate between specifically 'Celtic' or 'Germanic beliefs.

Just thinking of things like the battle between the summer and winter kings, fairies and elves, the idea of 'Otherworld', spring, harvest and midwinter rituals,  and so on. just to make it harder still, a lot of stuff we know about 'Celtic' beliefs is from Irish and Welsh stuff written down very late, well into christian times, while a lot of stuff about pagan English beliefs is inferred from late Norse stuff.

Maybe just as the Romans tended famously to give their 'Roman interpretation' of local gods they encountered, so the English probably did the same with the British stuff they heard.


All this is just thinking off the top of my head, so don't shoot me down in flames here!

A good topic though, v thought-provoking. What intrigues me is the role and status of pagan English 'priests'. Was the english belief system entirely natural and unorganized, or was there  a well-defined social place for them?

ubique

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Re: AS use of British folklore
« Reply #5 on: September 05, 2010, 08:48:17 PM »


Given that 'Celtics' and 'Germanics' had a common cultural ancestry anyway, and continued to interact with each other even after they became culturally distinct, i'm not even sure how much mileage there is is trying to differentiate between specifically 'Celtic' or 'Germanic beliefs.

Good point mate for example the Germanic,Celtic,Slavic,Indian and possibly Persian/Iranian peoples use a world Tree that links them to an aspect of the Indo-European religion

Karen Carlson

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Re: AS use of British folklore
« Reply #6 on: September 06, 2010, 12:47:52 AM »
Yes, there's a good deal of Indo-European commonality.  For Celts and Germanics in particular, Steve McNallen's article is interesting.

Karen

David Cowley

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Re: AS use of British folklore
« Reply #7 on: September 06, 2010, 09:05:00 AM »
I made a post on the Hrafnshwisprung thread a few days ago which touches on the significance of ravens to the Celtic Welsh/ Britons. Note on the same theme, in the Mabinogion the king of Britain, Bran (= Raven), when dying asks for his head to be buried on the White Hill (Y Bryngwyn) in London. For as long as its there, there'll be no invasion of the island of Britain. This is thought to be the site of the White Tower (Tower of London), where ravens are kept with their wings clipped; if they were to leave, some disaster would be fall Britain/ England. I don't know the historical record for this tradition, but there's certainly a chance that there's a continuous link back from today's raven to some sort of Celtic head cult at the site.

Another one is the nursery rhyme: 'Ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross to see a fine lady upon a white horse, with rings on her fingers and bells on her toes, she shall have music whereever she goes.' ... and varients: that's thought by folklorists to possibly be linked as a distant echo to the Celtic Epona horse goddes cult. Then there are cases of well dressing and other stuff though to link back to before ASJ times. In a way it would be more surprising if there were no eveidence for these kind of links.

Bowerthane

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Re: AS use of British folklore
« Reply #8 on: September 06, 2010, 01:42:47 PM »
Whoops, from the Celts, yes. Celtic.

There are those man-made ‘harvest hills’ that seem to have had some significance to the Celts although I think they’re of Neolithic origin.  Silbury Hill is only the best known and best preserved of these.  Another got worked into a folly by ‘Capability’ Brown in the gardens of some stately home, and another called Brinklow Hill survives just outside the Danelaw in ( I think) Worcestershire.  Some crumbs or kurnel of custom and belief may have made it from Romano-British to Anglo-Saxon society because some medieval fairs were held yearly on our harvest hills as well as ones in Ireland.  This custom seems to have fizzled out by early modern times, when local children were last known to race each other to the top on the old fairs’ dates.

The etymology of ‘Brinklow’ could be suggestive of a pea beneath this princess.  The  ‘-low’ is from hlaw and just means ‘hill’ and the ‘Brink-’ end could be a personal name, as a hypothetical *Brynca is used to account for a ‘brink’ element in other times and places. 

Yet there’s always the noun bringe, this meaning ‘offering’ or ‘sacrifice’.  Bringe being related to the Old English verb bringan implying ‘what is brought’.

The possibility of our word ‘brink’ in its ‘topographical edge’ incarnation is all but ruled out by the fact that ‘brink’ is not recorded until Chaucer and that the earliest historical notice of Brinklow is in 1155 as Brinckelawe ( it’s not in Doomsday Book), and anyhow ‘brink’ always used to mean ‘a brink’ of exactly the kind Brinklow Hill does not resemble.  Also ‘brink’ is a loan-word from Old Norse so, whilst it’s short of impossible the place-name was a post-Conquest development, that ‘brink’ would have to make it over Watling Street to be applied to Brinklow for some special, not to say gonzo, reason.
 
‘Hill of offering/ sacrifice’ for Brinklow would imply, either, that the incoming Anglo-Saxons attached some religious significance to a man-made hill such as this, or even if they didn't they thought ( rightly or wrongly) that the earlier Celtic Britons did so.

What I haven’t got round to is a round-up of what is known, guessed or believed about harvest hills generally to see how this etymology looks in the light of it.




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steve pollington

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Re: AS use of British folklore
« Reply #9 on: September 06, 2010, 09:12:29 PM »
OE hlaw is more usually 'barrow, burial mound' than just 'hill'. Does the low in question look like a mound or is it a natural feature?

Bowerthane

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Re: AS use of British folklore
« Reply #10 on: September 06, 2010, 09:31:55 PM »
Should be a photo here:

freespace.virgin.net/diane.lindsay/bhg.htm


It's mound shaped, now, but still looks a bit on the big side for a common-or-garden barrow.  I suppose the Old English may have made an intrusive burial in one side.  An urnful Brynca's ashes might be waiting for some archaeologist to dig up, and that could explain a 'Brynca's barrow'.  Yet it does seem too large, was probably taller in pre-Conquest times and would-be grave-robbers would fail to find a body, hence the alternative. 

But a 'harvest hill' is also a tumulus.



AElfrida

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Re: AS use of British folklore
« Reply #11 on: September 07, 2010, 04:00:06 PM »
Moving away from hills, for a moment, I did hear recently that the DNA of most of us "Heinz 57 varieties" of English/Welsh/Scots/Irish cum "Anglossaxon" cum "Viking", or whatever, comes out as just British, i.e. yes, it doesn't matter what the Romans chose to call the various groups of Europeans they were trying to conquer: we're all pretty much of "Ancient British" stock.

ubique

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Re: AS use of British folklore
« Reply #12 on: September 07, 2010, 04:43:56 PM »
Moving away from hills, for a moment, I did hear recently that the DNA of most of us "Heinz 57 varieties" of English/Welsh/Scots/Irish cum "Anglossaxon" cum "Viking", or whatever, comes out as just British, i.e. yes, it doesn't matter what the Romans chose to call the various groups of Europeans they were trying to conquer: we're all pretty much of "Ancient British" stock.

I belive three studies have been conducted on this so far the first saying that the english population of today is between 50% to 100% Germanic.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j617mImHVvk

The second study came up saying it was as little as 5% Germanic

The third saying and I belive most recent one came up with 90% Germanic

Had a quick look for the studys online but Im abit rushed at the moment so If anybody has a link and could post then that would be great


peter horn

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Re: AS use of British folklore
« Reply #13 on: September 08, 2010, 09:44:38 AM »
the percentages vary between various studies of DNA, but I think there is general agreement that on the east side of england the DNA of English people is mainly germanic (apparently English and Danes have same DNA), whereas as you move further westward the DNA becomes that associated with the Welsh.
The term 'Celtic' does not mean very much, except as a particular type of art. To avoid confusion best to use the terms Welsh, Irish, English etc.   The term 'British' also has a number of different meanings.
Peter
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Jayson

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Re: AS use of British folklore
« Reply #14 on: October 07, 2010, 09:37:44 PM »
Good point mate for example the Germanic,Celtic,Slavic,Indian and possibly Persian/Iranian peoples use a world Tree that links them to an aspect of the Indo-European religion


Interesting you should mention Persian:  I have a friend who is Indian Parsi and whose religion is Zoroastrianism.   she once showed me her Holy Book and told me to open at the first page.   It said  --

BY NAME GAD.

Made me blink. 
Wessex Woman