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Thoughts On Barrows

Burial mound near Bungay.

One of my favourite evening strolls takes me through the western side of Rendlesham Forest and over a large amount of open Heath land.  I stroll past at least 3 recorded round burial mounds or barrows and there is also one long barrow (or possible rabbit warren).
Over the years and miles of “strolling” I must have spent a huge percentage of the time pondering on the barrows, what they say and what they keep quiet about.  We can safely say at a point of time somewhere back in the late Neolithic, people were gathered at a place. I know this because of a piece of worked flint I found on the surface a few feet away from a barrow I visited near Bungay which is a town nearby. Also we know at some point of time man hours (should it be people hours) was spent in laying to rest a person and then piling on several tons of soil on top to create the barrow. Were they important?  Feared, or just very wealthy?  I think it’s safe to say they were mourned and needed to be remembered by a loved one or ones. Maybe it was a village leader and the mound erectors were from his village or tribe and they erected the barrow out of love and loss.  On the other hand maybe the deceased was part of a brutal ruler’s family and the mound was erected by slaves!
Obviously we will never know.

Worked Flint. Found on the surface near the burial mound pictured above.

I often wonder about their names and what they looked like. The wife, who is a textile weaver, thinks about their clothes. What colours they were and what materials they were woven from.

Some excavated graves from the same time period have found traces of flowers which does tend to indicate the dead were treated with respect, were loved and their death triggered some form of funeral ritual. The Beaker people were named after the beakers that were buried with them, were they full of food for them to have in the afterlife?
That seems to imply they believed in some form of heaven.

So what do we know about the barrow folk? Well we do not know their names, what they wore or what they did, but we do know they were loved or respected in life.  So much so at a point of time a group of people gathered together and physically laboured to build a monument that has lasted thousands and thousands of years and hopefully will last thousands more!

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Brief Notes On Sweyn Forkbeard.

Sweyn Forkbeard
Sveinn Haraldsson tjúguskegg or Sweyn Forkbeard was born in April 963; his father was the famous Harold Bluetooth, King of Denmark and Norway, probably more famous now because of the Bluetooth connection system than then. Sweyn’s mother may have been of a lower class or servant status. Sweyn came to power by being part of an uprising against his father, who subsequently died and Sweyn filled the empty throne.
Sweyn had more than one wife. The second may have been Sigrid the Haughty!
Around the year 994 Sweyn led a series of raids against the English. On one occasion Ethelred the Unready paid Sweyn £16,000 in silver to leave the country. This didn’t work as a strategy and the raids continued.
Ethelred, in the year 1002 retaliated for the continued raiding by ordering the killing of all Danes living in Britain. This became known as the St Brice’s Day massacre. The idea was to remove any support the raiding Danes had from their kin living in Britain. Unfortunately, Sweyn’s sister Gunhilda was killed along with a great number of others.
From that date to 1013 Sweyn mounted repeated raids against Britain and Ethelred who repeatedly paid Sweyn to go back home. Ethelred strategy never worked and over time Ethelred lost more and more of Britain to Sweyn and in 1013 Sweyn proclaimed himself King of England. Ethelred had fled to Normandy with his family.
Sweyn was the first Danish king of England.
Unfortunately for Sweyn  he died by falling of his horse after being King for just 5 weeks.
It was rumoured he had been killed by the ghost of St Edmund who pierced his side with a spectral spear.\
After Sweyn’s death his son Canut succeeded him to the throne.

Link to the Sweyn Forkbeard figure in the Shop.
Link to Sweyn on Wikkipedia.
Link to Sweyns Timeline





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Brief Notes On Saint Columba (Apostle of the Picts)

St Columba
Columba was born to Fedlimid and Eithne in the 520 in the Region of County Donegal in what is now in the North of Ireland. His father’s family may have been descended from King Niall, a 5th-century ruler.                                                                                              
His name at birth may have been Crimthann meaning ‘Fox’ and later became known as Colmcille meaning “Dove”
Around the year 560, some traditions assert that Columba became involved in a quarrel with Finnian of Movilla Abbey over a psalter. Columba copied the manuscript from the scriptorium in the abbey. His intentions were to keep the copy for himself. Finnian disputed his right to keep it. There is a suggestion that this conflict resulted in the Battle of Cul Dreimhne, in what is now County Sligo. During the battle, many men were killed.                                                                                                                                
In the year 563, Columba and 12 companions, traveled to Scotland in a wicker and cowhide coracle to preach the gospels and convert the Picts.                                                                                                                                                                                                              
 He founded the monastery on the island of Iona which after nearly 1500 years is still a hugely significant site, being a tourist and pilgrimage center. At one point in time during a trek into the interior of Scotland along the banks of Loch Ness, he encountered the monster of the loch that was busy trying to eat a person. A few words from Columba and the monster turned tail and left his victim behind.                                                                                                                                                                                       
One of Columba’s rules for the community on Iona was, cows were not allowed on the Island, as where there’s a cow there’s a milkmaid, and women meant trouble!                                                                                                                                                                       
Three surviving early Medieval Latin hymns may be attributed to Saint Columba.
Saint Columba is one of the three patron saints of Ireland.

More on Saint Columba:

More on Iona and its Comunity:

Saint Columba figure in the A12North shop:

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Brief Notes On The Knights Templar

The Knights Templar, originally formed around the year 1118, were an organization made up of devout Christians. Originally serving as bodyguards to European travelers visiting sites in the Holy Land, they eventually rose to become a military army led by the pope, sacking, and fighting long crusades in the Holy Land. By 1303 however, the Knights Templars had lost and the land they held within the middle east and retreated to Paris. There, King Philip IV of France resolved to bring down the order, tying the knights to stakes and burning them alive

Many mysteries and modern conspiracies are attached to the templars, such as “the location of the Holy Grail” or where the Templars treasury vanished to.

There’s a huge amount of Information about the Templars online, and I’ve added a few links to the better sources below.
Knights Templar on Wikipedia:
Knights Templar on Britannica:

The History Bonkers Reproduction Templar Seal: 
The History Bonkers Templar Seal/Paperweight:

Thanks to Harry Hill for providing the “Templar History Snippet”

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James II of England.

James II, younger brother to Charles II was king of England, Ireland, and Scotland from between 1685 – 1688. His belief in catholicism ultimately caused his downfall, resulting in his own daughter Mary, and her husband William of Orange, deposing him in the glorious revolution in 1688. He attempted to retake the throne in 1690 in the Battle of the Boyne but was ultimately defeated, living out the rest of his days exiled in France.

Thanks to Harry Hill’s Potted Histories For the Extract.

A12North in conjunction with “History Bonkers” now have a life-size replica of his seal.
All in-stock: Link to A12Norths Store:
More on James II

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Consecration Crosses In Suffolk

Consecration Crosses In suffolk.

Consecration Crosses on Suffolk Church Interiors.

Consecration crosses are painted crosses on the inside and outside churches. They widely appear in the C12  and marks the spot where the consecrating Bishop anointed the church with “Chrism” (An Oil and balsam mix). Twelve crosses inside and 12 outside.

Typical they were high up and had a candle placed in front. After the consecration, the church was then A Holy place.
The crosses vary in style the commonest style I have found is the Rounded or “Bolnisi” style cross. As the original crosses may have required a large compass to create it is postulated they were created by Masons, who would have such a tool.

The Bolnisi style cross was one of the variations of the cross used by the Knights Templar.
The main cross above is from the church in Saxstead, top right is in Kenton and bottom right is in the church at Mickfield. All of these churches are in Suffolk.
It is very humbling to stand in front of 800-year-old graphics!

The Saxstead Cross is available as a candle. In the A12 Shop: 
Consecration Crosses on Wikipedia:
Read more on Templars Crosses:

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Footpaths. A Lock Down View Of A Brilliant Resource.


As the country is currently in lockdown owing to the virus that shall not be named, I thought I’d have a quick look at one of this country’s fantastic, hardly discussed resource, the Footpath.

There’s several different variations of “Right Of Way” across the land. For instance, there are Bridleways, Restricted Byeways, as well as footpaths. Some areas of great Britain also have open access, which enables you to wander all over, and then, of course, there is Common land and large public parks where you can wander where you will.

There are a staggering 140,000 miles of footpaths in Great Britain. Many are rarely used and offer an escape from modern life, plus there’s plenty of room to get your daily exercise and more. Many paths are wide and have plenty of room to pass should you meet anyone along the way.
Last weekend the wife and myself, thought we could use our daily allowance of outdoor exercise by going on a 10 miles or so stroll. The idea being we could leave early and avoid any awkward meetings on narrow pathways ( the 2m guideline could be a bit tricky on narrow tracks). By getting out the OS map we planned a large circular route. By having a good close up look at the map and a quick delve into the local history and archaeological sites a few landscape features popped up so they were incorporated into the route. They were then all linked by taking in wide tracks through woodland, a few roads, and some open fields.
We walked at leisure, stopping frequently and had a major stop for a mini mid-morning picnic. Time taken was around the 4 plus hours mark. Afterward, we both decided to do more outdoor activities. Some areas were stunning. The wildlife we saw was simply brilliant and quite a bit of wild Garlic was picked and brought home.

Essential Pack list:

Map and compass. A12 Sells a basic easy to use baseplate compass .
Waterproof jacket.
Food and Flask.
All packed in a good waterproof rucksack. We do stock some on the A12 Site. For one day use, I found a 25ltr to 40ltr capacity fine. Rucksacks in the A12Store

Links to further reading.

Uk Footpaths
O S Maps
Long Distant Walks (post lockdown)