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Archaeological Find

Wanted to post this yesterday in honor of St. Paddy's day but didn't get permission until later in the day. Encountered this delightful bit of creative writing from a friend of mine, and it always makes me smile. So here, for your gratuitous reading pleasure, is an account of an intriguing discovery. Original post here.


Archaeological Find

In the County of Meath in Eastern Ireland lies the Boyne Valley. An area that has fascinated scholars and archaeologists for centuries. There you find Brú na Bóinne, the Palace of Boyne. There you find Dowth, Newgrange and Knowth; Dozens of burial tunnels criss-cross the area. They were built about 3200BC making them older than the Pyramids or Stonehenge.

Richard Watkins of Stanford University was part of a team that was investigating Tunnel 22 that runs north-south through Newgrange. About 122 metres down the tunnel, he discovered what appeared to be an ancient cave-in. After 3 days careful work, Watkins and his team discovered that the rocks concealed the entrance to a roughly circular chamber about four metres in diameter.

There were clear signs that this was not a burial chamber but had been inhabited at one time. There were the remains of a fire below a gap in the ceiling that was once, presumably, a primitive chimney and source of light. There were the tattered rags that may have been bedding or clothing and some artefacts (one of which was a knife dated about the eighth century AD).

An examination of the chamber provided evidence that the occupant was connected with a monastery near Drogheda on the River Mattock that pre-dated Mellifont Abbey built on the same site by some 200 years. Records discovered at the abbey site indicated a monk called Muireadhach was entrusted with a “Pagan relic so foul it must be forever banished from the world of the living.”

This reference led Watkins to re-examine the chamber, whereupon he found a hiding place cunningly carved into the chamber wall and hidden behind a close-fitting stone. There was a solid mass about one metre by one metre by 0.5 metre behind the stone, and great care had to be taken in order not to cause any undue damage.

The mass was packaged up and sent to Truro University where Professor John Dean led the team that was to analyse and preserve the find.

It was discovered that the outer part of the mass consisted of about five goat skins; each had to be removed separately. Within was an ancient book. The cover was made of wood and fastened with metal clasps. The pages were fastened to the covers with cords that had only survived because of the protection of the goatskins and the atmosphere of the cavern.

At last, the team could see the first few pages of the book. They contained drawings, now faded, but were once rich in colour. Alongside these drawings were the spidery writings of the scribe in an ancient version of Gaelic (it pre-dated the use of Roman letters).

The search was on for someone who could translate the book. That search ended in Adelaide, Australia with Bryan Tewkes. Tewkes had done extensive research on Pre-Roman Civilisations of the British Isles. It was he that finally identified the book that had filled the ancient monks with so much horror:

“Irish Dancing Part 2: The Hand & Arm Movements”


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Comments

alaskawolf
Mar. 18th, 2012 09:24 pm (UTC)
good stuff :D

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