Forrest Fenn’s Treasure

 

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“If I was standing where the treasure chest is, I’d see trees, I’d see mountains, I’d see animals. I’d smell wonderful smells of pine needles, or pinyon nuts, sagebrush—and I know the treasure chest is wet.”Forrest Fenn

A few years ago, a certain octogenarian, Forrest Fenn, hid a treasure chest somewhere in the Rocky Mountains of America. Since then, many a puzzle-solver has attempted to crack the poem which contains clues to the treasure’s location. It reads;

As I have gone alone in there
And with my treasures bold,
I can keep my secret where,
And hint of riches new and old.

Begin it where warm waters halt
And take it in the canyon down,
Not far, but too far to walk.
Put in below the home of Brown.

From there it’s no place for the meek,
The end is ever drawing nigh;
There’ll be no paddle up your creek,
Just heavy loads and water high.

If you’ve been wise and found the blaze,
Look quickly down, your quest to cease,
But tarry scant with marvel gaze,
Just take the chest and go in peace.

So why is it that I must go
And leave my trove for all to seek?
The answers I already know,
I’ve done it tired, and now I’m weak.

So hear me all and listen good,
Your effort will be worth the cold.
If you are brave and in the wood
I give you title to the gold.

The poem is contained in an autobiographical sketch called the Thrill of the Chase, of which Fenn says, ‘ The chapters in my book have very subtle hints but are not deliberately placed to aid the seeker. Good luck in the search.’

So where to begin – well, in a case of x marks the spot, there are two crosses on the treasure map – one should be a decoy & one help to hone in on the treasure. So, the peak marked with a cross in Wyoming is Garret Peak, its the most central cross, so on a hunch we’ll begin our search there.

Begin it where warm waters halt
And take it in the canyon down,

This is a reference to fishing on the Green River, which flows through a canyon & becomes too warm for the fish in the summer. Thus ‘Begin it where warm waters halt’ is a reference to fishing – in Fenn’s book his love of fishing, especially fly-fishing, is everywhere.

Put in below the home of Brown

‘Put in’ is a term for launching a small boat – this is a reference to sailing on Green River Lake, which sits underneath Osborn Mountain.  Henry Fairfield Osborn was the man who assisted Barnum Brown’s search for dinosaurs in Wyoming – the first Tyranasaurus was found by them – & the bones were displayed in the American Natural History Museum paleolithic section founded by Osborn – thus Osborn is the home of Barnum Brown’s finds. In Fenn’s book, his love of artifact hunting & deep history is everywhere.

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At the south east corner of the lake, Clear Creek begins – there is a trail to follow which leads through pinyon pine trees (rare in Wyoming) – along which one comes to Clear Creek Falls, which is described in Fenn’s third stanza;

From there it’s no place for the meek – The meek inherit the earth, thus we need to follow water

The end is ever drawing nigh –  line evocative of a waterfall’s edge & the eternal movement of the water as it approahes the drop

There’ll be no paddle up your creek, – you cant paddle a waterfall & the movement is, of course, upwards

Just heavy loads and water high. – Water high is pretty obvious, heavy loads could mean the transporting your boat which Fenn clearly tells us has been ‘put in’ by rope – up the falls

———————————————————-

If you’ve been wise and found the blaze,
Look quickly down, your quest to cease,
But tarry scant with marvel gaze,
Just take the chest and go in peace.

This is a fun stanza. In 1988 – the same year Fenn was diagnosed with cancer – the forest around Clear Creek beyond the waterfall was charred by a blaze caused by lightning (Hiking Wyoming’s Wind River Range).  Tarry scant with marvel is an allusion to Hemingway sending a copy of a short story (tarry scant) to Mcleish who wrote a poem to Andrew Marvell in the style of His Coy Mistress. In a letter to Mcleish, Hemingway calls Mcleish ‘Andy Marvell’ (Selected Letters 1917-1961, p.326) & in the Thrill of the Chase there is a glaring error made by Fenn concerning Hemingway, which I beleive was one of the subtle clues made to draw one’s attention to Hemingway. The short story was called ‘Wine of Wyoming’ in which we read; 

‘Labour day we all went to Clear Creek.. Madame said. 
‘Oh, my God, you ought to have been there all right. We all 
w&it in the truck. Tout le monde est alle dans le truck. Nous 
sommes partis le dimanche. C’est le truck de Charley.’ 

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For me, Forrest Fenn has hidden his treasure in river-cave beneath Clear Creek Natural Bridge. When he writes, ‘As I have gone alone in there’ & ‘Your effort will be worth the cold,’ wading into the waters to reach the chest makes sense, especially when supported by two of the clues Fenn has given us over the past few years.

If I was standing where the treasure chest is, I’d see trees, I’d see mountains and I know the treasure chest is wet. 

Take a flashlight and a sandwich. 

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The other hints Fenn has given us can check off one by one;

There’s no need digging in the old outhouses, the treasures’ not associated with any structure. CHECK
It is not in Nevada. CHECK
The treasure is not in a grave yard. CHECK
The treasure is higher than 5,000 feet above sea level. CHECK
If you had the coordinates, you would be able to find the treasure. CHECK 

The treasure is not hidden in Idaho or Utah. CHECK
The treasure is not in a mine. CHECK
It is at least 8.25 miles north of Santa Fe. CHECK
The treasure is hidden below 10,200 feet. CHECK 
It is more than 300 miles west of Toledo. CHECK
I never said it was buried, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t. CHECK

Is it not possible to find chest without leaving computer & google earth – CHECK

There isn’t a human trail in very close proximity to where I hid the treasure.”  CHECK
Not associated with a structure……CHECK

I would like to know if the blaze can be found during the day without a flashlight. “I would say yes. – CHECK

I made two trips from my car to the hiding place and it was done in one afternoon.”CHECK

————–

I might be wrong, I might be right – perhaps – but many of the clues in my solution synch up with Fenn & his lifestyle, so I ‘m probably right. I live in the UK, & I’m hoping that if I’m right & someone in the US does find the treasure, then they’d give me a wee share x damo

Enter The Rose

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It is now the middle of the day on midsummer’s day, 2016. It has been a rather unsummery & harsh fortnight or so – the European monsoon season that kicks in every June putting in an appearance once again. However, on other fronts it has been a pretty cool month. Axis & Allies is, as a formulated poem, complete. All the titles & dates are in neat positions & in bold, there is no stanzetta that needs converting into verse. I’ve sent it to a coupel of people including an American poet named Dana Gaio or something who like my Language of Birds, heaping praise upon my traditional style, then completely clammed up about A&A – refusing to acknowledge a word. Its quite an interesting trait in poets when faced with A&A – its like complete denial.  I have flicked through the poem, & I know already there’s a few touches & edits that need to happen – but in all sense of structure & passion, the poem is finished.

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Music wise, the band is getting better all the time. Me & Al have finished draft two of the album- ie sorted out bass & guitars – while we’ve played two big gigs in the past few weeks. The Meadows Festival on a glorious sunday afternoon where I could see folk filling up the entire mile or so of greenery before me – all listening to my litle old band. What was funny was Kennys insistence on taking a line of Luke’s stuff, presuming it was an upper (it wasnt) & wobbling off stage at the end of the gig. Cue me thinking he’d had a heart attack & was in hospital, when all along he’d just got back on stage with the final band – Nipple of Venus.

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My new mate Dexter : The Psychedelic Yardie, who I met at Eden

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Five days later we are at Eden festival & the Furry Chillum,  a gig which Kenny was late for, but kicked off a great Mumble review & good old time, including a brilliant jam for my 40th birthday at Jonny’s bus. It was also mine & ems’ anniversary, & we were joined at the hipp all weekend, very much in love & happy as larry. You can read all about the festival here. Since Eden, we’re welcoming Al’s pal, Bill, to the band on sax. This Friday we go for draft 3 of the album – but Ali from the Matta has thrown a strop & we can’t use Mindis a Make-up or Ceasefire. Instead we’ll bring Poppadom back & record Matty Grooves at Steves. There’s also a gig this weekend in Glasgow @ Nice & Sleazys, after which we’ll chill for  while.

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IMG_20160617_170042417In the real world, the English beat Wales in the Euros, but Wales topped the group, while Jo Cox was murdered by some bell-end, but her martyrdom should swing Thursday’s coming referendum on Europe towards the ‘Remain’ camp. Back in my world, I’ve been Mumbling hard in anticipation of August, & I’ve had a wee surge of sonneteering. It began on the train to Burnley where I began the first of 3 sonnets which tie the Humanology project into the rest of the Silver Rose. In essence, there will be 6 grand sequanzas of 196 sonnets each, giving a grand total of 1176. Check this out, my birthday is : 11-6-76. That is some pretty fucked up numerology if you ask me.

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Burnley was great n’all – Ems had bought me a ticket for the Stone Roses & I went with my sister & Simon to the Etihad stadium. It was awesome gig – much better than Heaton Park, & one in which the first album was played in its entireity – a great moment really seeing as I’m trying to emulate it at the moment. Yeah, what a gig, the best I’ve ever been to in my life, I think, the Etihad was like a modern Collosseum & my favorite gladiators were on cracking form – their new single, All For One, if a little plastic in the recording was majestic in such an environment. Aye,  I love the Roses me!

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On the train back after the gig, I penned the third of my three sonnets n’all, & getting home found they fit into the Silver Rose schema perfectly. Weird that it happened the weekend I saw the Roses n’all. So in essence as A&A is an Iliad, & The Silver Rose is the Odyssey.  In the 80s, Alex Fergusson of Man Utd said;

My greatest challenge is not what’s happening at the moment, my greatest challenge was knocking Liverpool right off their fucking perch. And you can print that.

For me its a case of knocking Homer off his perch (if indeed one guy wrote the poems) x

Dark Age Candles (IX) : The Agathyrsi

 

Herodotus
Herodotus

A couple of posts back I gave a detailed explanation as to why I thought the Attacotti were the original Pictish tribe who settled in Britain, builders of the brochs which mark their territories – from Caithness & Sutherland, through the Orkneys & on up to the Shetlands. I also postulated that the name Attacotti has a meaning of ‘both acotti,’ but gave a vague suggestion that this would be connected to Gethus & Gothus, Pictish King who settled the Orkneys. In this post I would like to show you my most recent findings on the matter, & as usual it begins with something I missed in my own researches. In his ‘History & Chronickles of Scotland’ Boece writes;

Nocht lang efter, a banist pepill, namit Pichtis, come furth of Denmark, to serche ane dwelling place ; and, efter that thay war inhibit to land baith in France, Britane, and Ireland, thay landit in Albion. Sum authouris sayis, thay come first in Orknay ; and, sone  efter, in Cathues, Ros, Murray, Mernis, Angus, Fiffe, and Louthiane : and expellit all the pepill, that inhabit that region afore thair  cuming. Thir pepill war callit Pichtis, outhir for thair semely personis, or ellis for the variant colour of thair clething ; or ellis thay war namit Pichtis, fra the Pichtis namit Agathirsanis, thair anciant faderis. In probation heirof, Orknay wes calht the auld realme of  Pichtis. Siclike, thee seeis betwix Cathnes and Orknay war namit Pentland Firth ; and all the landis, quhilkis ar now callit Louthiane, war callit than Pentland.

Boece’s Agathirsanis are the anciently recorded’ Agathyrsi,’ mentioned by the father of history himself, Herodotus, in the middle of the 5th century BC. Of course, chispologically the name is a fit to my theory of ‘both acotti’, for acotti & agathy are philologically nigh identical. In addition the ‘gath’ element really does suggest it is behind the names of kings Gethus & Gothus.

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So who were the Agathyrsi? A number of Pictish legends sees the name being used for the ‘Cruithni’ – ie the earliest Picts who came to Britain. So far, so good, for Gethus & Gothus also belonged to this group. The idea, then, is that it the elements of the Agathyrsi somewhere  Herodotus migrated to the far north of Britain. Herodotus tells us that by his time they were of mixed Dacian-Scythian origin, who dwelt in the plain of the Maris (Mures), in Transylvania, Romania.

From the country of the Agathyrsoi comes down another river, the Maris, which empties itself into the same; and from the heights of Haemus descend with a northern course three mighty streams, the Atlas, the Auras, and the Tibisis, and pour their waters into it.

Kaspar Zeuss has suggested that the Hunnish ‘Acatir’ tribe is based on these Agathyrsi, which mirrors my assumption that the Acotti are also based on them.

Herodotus describes the Agathyrsoi as, ‘the most luxurious of men and wear gold ornaments for the most part: also they have promiscuous intercourse with their women, in order that they may be brethren to one another and being all nearly related may not feel envy or malice one against another. In their other customs they have come to resemble the Thracians.’ He also pontificates on a  Pontic Greek myth that describes the Agathyrsi as being named after a legendary ancestor Agathyrsus, the oldest son of Heracles.

Upon this he [Heracles] drew one of his bows (for up to that time Heracles, they say, was wont to carry two) and showed her the girdle, and then he delivered to her both the bow and the girdle, which had at the end of its clasp a golden cup; and having given them he departed. She then, when her sons had been born and had grown to be men, gave them names first, calling one of them Agathyrsos and the next Gelonos and the youngest Skythes; then bearing in mind the charge given to her, she did that which was enjoined. And two of her sons, Agathyrsos and Gelonos, not having proved themselves able to attain to the task set before them, departed from the land, being cast out by her who bore them; but Skythes the youngest of them performed the task and remained in the land: and from Skythes the son of Heracles were descended, they say, the succeeding kings of the Scythians (Skythians): and they say moreover that it is by reason of the cup that the Scythians still even to this day wear cups attached to their girdles: and this alone his mother contrived for Skythes. Such is the story told by the Hellenes who dwell about the Pontus.

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We must now ask ourselves is it a coincidence that in the very place where Boece places the Agathirsanis,we find an island called Sketis (also Ocitis), & that the brother of Agathyrsos is called Skythes.

It makes sense. The Picts were at least part ruled by their druids, & there are several notices in the annals that the Agathyrsi are clearly Pictish:

1 – Virgil tells us the they tattooed their bodies (picti, Aeneid iv. 136), describing ‘Cretans and Dryopes and painted Agathyrsians, mingling around his altars, shouting.’

2 – Aristotle tells us (Problemata, xix. 28), ‘Why are the nomes which are sung so called ?  Is it because before men knew the art of writing they used to sing their laws  in order not to forget them, as  they are still accustomed to do among the Agathyrsi?’ The same method of memory was also used by the Druids, of which number some were attached to the Picts.

3 – In the first century, Pliny alludes to the blue hair of the Agathyrsi : ‘Leaving Taphrae [a town near Crimea], and going along the mainland, we find in the interior the Auchetae, in whose country the Hypanis [the Bug river] has its rise, as also the Neuroe, in whose district the Borysthenes [the Dnieper river] has its source, the Geloni, the Thyssagetae, the Budini, the Basilidae, and the Agathyrsi with their azure-coloured hair. Above them are the Nomades, and then a nation of Anthropophagi or cannibals (Pliny the Elder IV, 26).’ This echoes  the poet Claudian’s description of Britain as being “… clothed in the skin of some Caledonian beast, her cheeks tattooed, and an azure cloak, rivalling the swell of Ocean, sweeping to her feet  (On the Consulship of Stilicho:2)

Ammianus-Marcellinus[1]

4 – In the 380s,  in his Res Gestae Ch. 22, writes;

The Danube, which is greatly increased by other rivers falling into it, passes through the territory of the Sauromatae, which extends as far as the river Don, the boundary between Asia and Europe. On the other side of this river the Alani inhabit the enormous deserts of Scythia, deriving their own name from the mountains around; and they, like the Persians, having gradually subdued all the bordering nations by repeated victories, have united them to themselves, and comprehended them under their own name. Of these other tribes the Neuri inhabit the inland districts, being near the highest mountain chains, which are both precipitous and covered with the everlasting frost of the north. Next to them are the Budini and the Geloni, a race of exceeding ferocity, who flay the enemies they have slain in battle, and make of their skins clothes for themselves and trappings for their horses. Next to the Geloni are the Agathyrsi, who dye both their bodies and their hair of a blue colour, the lower classes using spots few in number and small—the nobles broad spots, close and thick, and of a deeper hue.

Again, that the Agathysi nobility’s  have more tattoes reflects the Picts, whose name, according to Isidore of Seville ‘(Origines, Book XIX Part 23 No. 7) ‘is taken from their bodies, because an artisan, with the tiny point of a pin and the juice squeezed from a native plant, tricks them out with scars to serve as identifying marks, and their nobility are distinguished by their tattooed limbs.’

It is clear that the Picts & the Agathyysi are drawn from the same stock, & there is even a mention of them migrating to Britain made a thousand years before Boece. Roundabout the year 400,  the Roman grammarian Maurus Servius Honoratus was a late fourth-century and early fifth-century grammarian wrote a commentary on the works of Virgil. In it, he relates that in about the year 300 AD the Agathyrsi sent across a contingent over the sea to Scotland, where it became identified with the Picts, the most formidable warriors who would exhaust all who stood against them. It is this slim bit of information that seems to prove everything I have been aiming at. Not long after 300 AD the Attacotti appear in the annals. That means not long before then, one of the two Acotti tribes must have blended with the other. Thus the Agathyrsi arriving among the Picts c.300 AD are these. Simple, but absolutely fascinating.

 

Almost 40

 

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Yesterday was the last day I will ever compose an Axis & Allies tryptych. In fact, I did 5. The first three were in the morning, walking in glorious sunshine before settling down at the lake. Rhondendrum bushes were in full bloom, bluebells were still regnal in visual lucidity, great hosts of insects were covering the lake like clouds of sealike-spray. As I finished my last line I entwined its meaning with Arthur casting Excalibur into a lake after his death at Camlann. It was a bit like Prospero snapping his wand in the Tempest as, after pacing by the lake a few moments & milking the moments, I tossed my pen into the lake & watched the bubbles from its falling slowly pop into nothingness. Getting back to the ranch, I then realised that there were, in fact, two stanzas still to write – one’s on the 9-11 ‘attacks’ that I wanted to include to reflect my own studies into the actual events of 9-11, not those force fed us by the media only moments after the towers were hit.

My two pens lie here...
My two pens lie here…

So its done, or at least the research & writing is done. 900 tryptychs, 100 cantos & .one lovely, long, luxurious epic poem. My work is done. I’ve summarised all history up to my time, & reflected the zeitgeist as best as I can, even projected into the future in the best epic tradition. All that remains is a singular read through – I’m at Charlemagne at the moment – neatening, improving, etc. I admit, this is a process that may take a lifetime – & thats my perogative. But I have to draw the line at some point, & with the poem fresh in my mind & having reached its final form, then that time is just about now. Plus I turn 40 in 9 days.

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The day before I turn 40, by the way, still in my 30’s, Tinky Disco play Eden. A week before that (in 3 days) we play the Meadows Festival & at the moment we are in the process of recording our first album. We put the drums down the other day, & we were gonna finish everything off with Cliff in Germany. Unfortunately he got all Teutonic on its ass, demanding we only work with half the tracks. So we’re not going now & gonna finish it off ourselves. We gonna stay at the Lane Studios in Prestonpans,  the producer, Colin, is a sound, enthusiastic guy & I reckon he’ll deliver the goods.

So for the next few weeks I’ll be reading through A&A & recording the Tinky Album. The latter begins like Sergeant Peppers & finishes like the Stone Roses first, two models of some quality on which to place the piece. It reminds of something I read in Machiavelli.

Men nearly always follow the tracks made by others & proceed in their affairs by imitation, even though they cannot entirely keep to the tracks of others or emulate the prowess of their models. So a prudent man should always follow in the footsteps of great men & imitate those who have been outstanding. If his own prowess fails to compare with theirs, at least it has an air of greatness about it.

Here’s a few images from recent days, such as the Hibs first cup Scottish win in 114 years, plus some videos from last Friday’s Tinky gig;

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Reviewing – Ode to Joy at the Usher Hall (read the review here)

My Uncle Jeff is now the mayor of Burnley

My Uncle Jeff is now the mayor of Burnley

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M’lady’s new boots

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Dark Age Candles (VIII) : The Attacotti

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As a little break from Axis & Allies I’m now in the National Library of Scotland working on the Attacotti theory I’ve been working on.  A few weeks back the Shetland Times printed a strange version of my Attacotti theory, which they allowed to be intercepted by the curator of the island’s main museum. “Probably not,” says Dr Ian Tait. Well, we’ll just have to see about that.

IMG_20160512_034941Our quest begins with something I’d noticed in a map left behind at my new house in East Lothian. Most versions of Ptolemy’s Geography mention an island called Sketis off the north-eastern coast of Scotland, which past historians have assumed was Skye, misplaced. However, in the map I was looking at, it had a completely different name – Ocitis. This is the version found in most manuscripts of the Geography, & for me it contained a clear phonetic match to the Cotti of the Attacotti. Now these guys were a northern British tribe which turn up in the 4th century.  Ammianus Marcellinus, who wrote a history of Rome in the late fourth century, mentions (book 27) describes them as ‘a warlike race of men‘ who fought alongside the Picts & Scots in what is known as the ‘Barbarian Conspiracy’ of the mid 360s.

It will, however, be in place to say, that at that time the Picts, divided into two tribes, called Dicalydones and Verturiones, as well as the Attacotti, a warlike race of men, and the Scots, were ranging widely and causing great devastation; while the Gallic regions, wherever anyone could break in by land or by sea, were harassed by the Franks and their neighbours, the Saxons, with cruel robbery, fire, and the murder of all who were taken prisoners.

In the same century, St Jerome traveled to Gaul, where he observed certain members of the Attacotti getting up to some rather bestial behaviour, writing of them in his Adversus Jovinianum (c.393AD);

Why should I speak of other nations when I, a youth, in Gaul beheld the Attacotti, a British tribe, eat human flesh, and when they find herds of swine, cattle, and sheep in the woods, they are accustomed to cut off the buttocks of the shepherds, and the paps of the shepherdesses, and to consider them as the only delicacies of food.

So, the Attacotti were a bunch of warlike cannibals, some of whom found themselves in Gaul. The evidence for them on the Continent comes in the Notitia Digitatum, compiled about 400 AD, which lists four Attacotti auxillary regiments as fighting in the Roman Legions, two of of whom, the Honoriani Atecotti seniores & the Atecotti iuniores Gallicani,  were stationed in Gaul. It seems that after Count Theodosius’ restoration of Roman order in Britain, the Attacotti were recruited to fight as auxilia palatina in the legions. The Notitia reads

In Italy: Atecotti Honoriani iuniores

In the Gauls with the illustrious master of horse in Gauls:
Atecotti Honoriani seniores
Atecotti iuniores Gallicani.

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For a long, long time, scholars have speculated on the homelands of the Attacotti, but to no avail. However, while looking at an Ogham inscription on an obscure Pictish stone discovered on the Shetland Islands, I hit paydirt. Etched into what is known as the Lunnasting Stone, it reads;

ettecuhetts: ahehhttannn: hccvvevv: nehhtons 
(Forsyth 1996)

Chispologically speaking, Ettecuhets is a lovely match for Attacotti, especially when we combine two variant spelling in the Notitia, being ‘attecotti’ & ‘attcoetti,’ as in;  Attecoet / Ettecuhet. Elsewhere on the Shetlands, at a place called Cunningsburgh, another Pictish stone also seems to mention the Attacotti.

  Transcription :   +TTEC[O^G][–] | [–]A[V^BL]:DATT[V][B!][–] | [–][A!]VVR[–]
     Reading :   ETTEC[O^G] [–][A!]VVR[–]A[V^BL]: DATT[V][B!][–]

There is an island called Mousa, just a stone-skip across the waters from Cuningsburgh, which is home to the greatest of all the stone, Pictish roundhouses known as Brochs. Archeologists calculate a date of 100 BC for its construction, which leads us to a possible discovery of the etymological root of the Attacotti.

brochs_mapIf we look at the distribution of the Pictish brochs, we see that they are found chiefly in Caithness, the Orkneys & the Shetlands. Archeologically speaking, the majority of them date from around 100 BC to 100 AD. If we conject that the broch-builders are part of the same tribe, & that the Attacotti at Cuningsburgh built the broch at Mousa, then we can assume that the Attacotti were also found on the Orkney islands & also on the mainland at Caithness. The central portion of this ‘empire’ are the Orkney islands,  which fits in perfectly with the nerve-centre of a Pictish diaspora as described by Hector Boece, a sixth century Scottish Historian.  According to Boece, the first Scottish region in which the Picts ever settled was the Orkney Islands, after which they spread south into Scotland as far as Lothian. In his ‘History & Chronickles of Scotland’ Boece writes;

Nocht lang efter, a banist pepill, namit Pichtis, come furth of Denmark, to serche ane dwelling place ; and, efter that thay war inhibit to land baith in France, Britane, and Ireland, thay landit in Albion. Sum authouris sayis, thay come first in Orknay ; and, sone  efter, in Cathues, Ros, Murray, Mernis, Angus, Fiffe, and Louthiane : and expellit all the pepill, that inhabit that region afore thair  cuming. Thir pepill war callit Pichtis, outhir for thair semely personis, or ellis for the variant colour of thair clething ; or ellis thay war namit Pichtis, fra the Pichtis namit Agathirsanis, thair anciant faderis. In probation heirof, Orknay wes calht the auld realme of  Pichtis. Siclike, thee seeis betwix Cathnes and Orknay war namit Pentland Firth ; and all the landis, quhilkis ar now callit Louthiane,
war callit than Pentland.

Another 16th century historian, William Camden, gives us some slightly more readable information about the early Pictish settlement of Scotland, stating that at,  ‘…the time of Reuther King of Scots; when the Scots, by an intestine division, warring upon one another, each Party being assisted by a considerable number of the Picts, they fought so desperately, that, besides Gethus King of the Picts, the greatest number both of Scots and Pictish Nobility were killed, with many thousands of the Commons of both Nations. Which great slaughter, with the invasion of the Britons at the same time, constrain’d the Picts (who perceived themselves unable to resist) to fly, some by land and others by sea, to Orkney, where they abode for a time, and made Gothus, brother of the foresaid Gethus, their King. And after a few years, having left some of their number to people and plant the Countrey, they return’d to Louthian; and having expelled the Britons, settled themselves again in their ancient possessions.

Between Camden & Boece we learn that the original Pictish settlement in Scotland had its main powerbase on the Orkneys, with a secondary settlement in the Lothians. This leads us to another passage in Camden, in which the mainland across from the Orkneys – Caithness – seems to be named after King Gethus himself;

Now Orkney, being a cluster of thirty Isles, separated from one another by little arms of the Sea: they are said in a certain old manuscript to be so call’d from Argat, that is (as it is there explain’d) Above the Getes: But I had rather interpret it, Above the Cat; for it lies over-against Cath, a Country of Scotland, which, from the promontory, is now called Catness; the Inhabitants whereof seem to be falsly called, in Ptolemy, Carini instead of Catini.”

Whatever ‘certain old manuscript‘ Camden was using, it definitely gave the Caithness region an original name of Getes, with the Orkneys being ‘above them.’ That the G & C are interchangeable can be seen in two historical notices of the Pictish kingdom of Cat. In the Pictish Chronicle, the seven kingdoms of the Picts are given as, ‘Fib, Fidach, Floclaid, Fortrenn, Got, Ce, Circinn,’ while the Irish translation of the Historia Brittonum  states their names are Cait, Ce, Cireach cetach cland, Fib, Fidach, Fotla, Foirtreand.’

Returning to King Gethus, that he was a contemporary of ‘Reuther King of Scots;’ as given by both Boece & Bellenden allows Gethus to be inserted into the following time-frame;

Kings of Scots
Fergus I : said to come to Scotland in 330 BC
Feritharis
Mainus
Dornadilla
Nothatus
Reuther : ————-

Kings of Picts
————– Gethus :  gives his daughter in marriage to Reuther
Gothus
Gethes
Cianus :  Taken prisoner by Claudius in the Orkneys (43 AD)

 These dates place the Gethus/Gothus brothes a couple of generations before the Claudian conquest of Britain, say, 80 years or so, which to the middle of the first century BC. This reinforces the connection between the Getes & the Broch-builders, & for me there is too much frantic chispological activity going on to deny that the Attacotti were connected to the broch-building ‘Getes.’ But lets just see if we can strengthen the theorum with as much evidence as we can;

The Etymology of ‘Attacotti’

When looking at the the name, Attacotti, I wasn’t convinced by Philip Rance’s ideas about the Attacotti being based on the Irish Aithceach Tuatha  (Deisi and Magnus Maximus: the Case for Irish Federates in Late. Roman Britain 2001). Instead, I decided to have a pop myself & divide the name up into Atta & Cotti. Both Latin & old Gothic render Atta as ‘father,’ which could translate as ‘father gothus,’ indicating that they were descended from the Orkney Pitcs. That the Picts are said to have a possible Scythian & German origins support a Gothic ‘Atta.’ However, after discovering the former naming of the Shetlands as ‘Ocitis,’ I realised that dividing the name into ‘At’ & ‘Acotti’ seems more prudent. In Latin, Et means both, & we have already seen how the Ogham describes the ettecuhetts. This then leads us to something like, ‘both acotti.’ We have seen how ‘Argat’ means ‘above the Getes’ & was applied to the Orkneys. The Shetland Isles are also found above the Getes,’ which fits into the idea of two divisions of the ‘Acotti,’ both of which lie beyond Caithness, which I’m giving the rather poetic name of ‘The Kingdom of the Two Cats.’ As already stated, support for this comes from that island called ‘Ocitis’ found in Ptolemy I mentioned at the start of the post. Its there, right at the edge of the page at the 20th parralell.

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Ptolemy describes four main islands off the far northern coast of Britain. What I found interesting is that with the map of Scotland clearly turned 90 degreees on its axis, then the two Ptolemic islands, Dumna & Ocitis seem to match the situations & correlations of the Orkneys & the Shetlands. This suggests that Ptolemy – who never really left the Meditterranean – may have used two seperate travellers accounts for this part of the world, which became superimposed upon each other. This means that Dumna would also be the Orkneys, that Ocitis would also be Thule, & thus Thule would also be the Shetlands. Evidence for this comes as flows;

Ocitis as Shetland

In one MS, Ptolemy’s Ocitis appears as Sketis, about 70 miles easterly off ‘Cape Orkas.’ Most scholars say this was Skye misplaced. But Sketis becomes Schetis becomes Camden’s Schetland  just as easy, and Shetland is about 70 miles NE of Scotland, i.e. Cape Orkas. We must also acknowledge that the Shetlands were also known by the name of ‘Inse Catt’- ie island of the Cats.

Dumna as the Orkneys

255px-DamsayIn the very centre of the Orkney archipelago, there is a small, flat islet called Damsay, which could well have derived from Dumna. It seems that in the distant past, it was quite an important spot. The island is home to a number of submerged constructions, with Caroline Wickham-Jones, of Aberdeen University, telling the BBC in 2009;

We have certainly got a lot of stonework. There are some quite interesting things. You can see voids or entrances… There’s this one feature that is like a stone table – you’ve got a large slab about a metre and a half long and it’s sitting up on four pillars or walls so the next thing we need to do is to get plans and more photographs to try and assess and look for patterns. The quality and condition of some of the stonework is remarkable. Nothing like this has ever been found on the seabed around the UK.

The thinking here is that in the deepest iron-age past, the Orkney Islands were actually named Dumna, with its spiritual centre being situated somewhere on or about the island of Damsey. The name should derive from Domnu, the Celtic goddess of the Summer Solstice Goddess. She is described as the Mother of Water who absorbs and reflects the rays of the sun as it climbs to it’s annual zenith. A place so far north as the Orkneys, then, would be a perfect place to celebrate the unbroken sunlight of midummer

Thule as Shetland

Several contenders for Thule have been proffered over the years, from Iceland to the Scandinavian land-mass, but in a genius & comprehensive bit of investigation – in an age long before google – Camden tells us quite decisively;

But if that of the learned Gaspar Peucerus, in his Book De Terræ Dimensione, be true, that Schetland is by the Seamen call’d Thilensell (and I know no reason to except against his testimony) Thule is undoubtedly discover’d, and the Controversie at an end… Schetland is the same with Thule, we may believe, First, from the situation of it in Ptolemy: For Thule is plac’d in the sixty third degree from the Æquinoctial by Ptolemy, and so is Schetland. call’d by some Hethland. Again, it lies between Scotland and Norway; where Saxo Grammaticus places Thule, as but two days sail from the point of Cathness; in which Distance Solinus also places it: And Tacitus says, that the Romans spy’d it afar off, as they sail’d by the Orcadesin their voyage round Britain (83 AD). Lastly, it faces the coast of Bergæ in Norway; and so lay Thule, according to Pomponius Mela, in which author the text is corruptly Belgarum littori, instead of Bergarum littori. For Bergæ, a City in Norway, lies over-against Shetland; and Pliny makes Bergos to be in this tract, which I take to be the small Country wherein Bergæ is seated; as none will deny that Norway is Pliny’s Nerigon.

Both Pliny & Strabo noted the comment of the fourth century BC Greek Geograper, Pytheas, that Thule was a six-day voyage north of Britain. Which in the terms of a antiquital voyaging seems about right – in 54 BC, for example, it took Cesar 18 hours to sail from Boulogne to Dover. That Thule was a Pictish possession is inferred from the poet Claudian who, writing about 400 AD, places them on the island;

The Orkney Isles with Saxon Blood were wet,
And Thule with Pictish gore did sweat.

What the Saxons were doing on the Orkneys in 400 AD is unclear, but the Pictish presence on Shetland / Thule in 400 AD is pretty much sealed.

Birdmen

It seems pretty much nailed on that the Attacotti were based in the northern islands of Scotland, & as such we can strengthen the theory ever more. Earlier in the post we saw how the Picts left their Lothian possessions on the death of King Gethus, but later on in time returned to their lands in Lothian. Camden writes;

After a few years, having left some of their number to people and plant the Countrey, they return’d to Louthian; and having expelled the Britons, settled themselves again in their ancient possessions.

What is remarkable here is that in the Lothian regions, at Traprain Law, the capital of the Votadini tribe, a silver horde was found in which the shield pattern of the Honoriani Attacotti Seniores seems to have been replicated on a silver plate. Indeed, the coinage in the horde determines that it was deposited during the reign of emperor Honorius himself.

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This image is a reconstruction based upon fragments found in the horde.
To this we must add the presence of King Loth, a 6th century Pictish king remembered as ruler of both the Lothians & the Orkneys. Historians have often been a tad bemused at this double kingdom, but we can now see that he was in fact the ruler of the Attacotti in the 6th century. To this we can also imagine that the etymology of Gododdin – a  version of the Votadini – could also be connected to the ‘Cotti’ of Caithness, etc – where the Pictis chronicle calls them Got.
Looking once more at the Notitia shield patterns, it is with the Junior Honorianes that a real clincher can be found. Their shield carries a curious image of two heads facing each other, with at least one of them seeming to be a bill-beaked bird. An extremely similar image is also found on a Pictish stone discovered in 1887 at Papil, West Burra, in the Shetlands.
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The stone was found at a pre-norse  Christian centre – the name Papil comes from papar – a Nordic word for priests – & was removed to the National Museum in Edinburgh, though a replica still stands in the churchyard of St Laurence’s Church, Papil. Kelly A Kilpatrick, in his ‘The iconography of the Papil Stone: sculptural and literary comparisons with a Pictish motif’ (Proc Soc Antiq Scot, 141 (2011), 159–205), writes of the birdmen,
 They have commonly been regarded as a misrepresentation of the Temptation of St
Antony, but this theory is debatable and needs to be compared and contrasted within the wider framework of this motif in Irish and Pictish art. Examples of axe-brandishing human and beast-headed figures are, however, found in Pictish sculpture, and are comparable with the imagery on the Papil Stone. Furthermore, the bird-men motif on the Papil Stone has striking parallels with contemporary battlefield demons in early Irish literature
 A common interpretation of the Papil birdmen is that they are a distorted representation
of the Temptation of St Antony, a scene in which Antony was tempted by women disguised as birds who whispered into his ear. This was, in the words of Radford), ‘a favourite scene on the Irish crosses, where it is usually pictured in a more realistic manner.’
Detail of the Temptation of St. Antonny the hermit. Moone high cross, Kildare
 
The Papil bird-men have a stronger connection with axe- and weapon-carrying hybrid & monstrous human-like figures in Pictish sculpture. There are 10 similar examples in the corpus of Pictish sculpture, three of which, it should be emphasised, have bird-features. They occur as single figures or as single figures associated with an anmimal or beast, & also as paired figures like the Papil bird-men. They must have had a long currency in Pictish art, for they are found on a variety of monumental media, ranging from simple incised stone boulders to panelled motifs on elaborate cross-slabs and even on a sculpted shrine panel.
Of these, the image of a dog-masked man found at Cuningsburgh, Shetland, where as we have seen there was an inscription to the Attacotti, seems the most important. Also of interest is a stone found at Murthly, Perthsire.  When comparing it with the Juniores shield pattern, we see that to the left is the long-beaked bird & to the right is the stubby-nosed dog or boar.

Lettuce Bingo

IMG_20160508_141741209Things are settling down nicely in the world of Damo. The new place is a dream come true, my nearest nice walk being a lovely half hour around a lake, built by Sophie’s grandad. There’s an upturned rowing boat there & something tells me a Shelleyan hour a day will soon be spent bobbing about on water working on my poetry. I’ve also been planting potatoes & onions in the garden, plus lettuce seeds in the window, the first of which is above. The garden is also a dream for kids, & we had a rather fun time last Thursday with Marnie, Lindsay & their two wee ones, plus ours, Kenny’s tribe (with both wives) & Cadey, the daughter of Ian who will be working on the Tinky Website this summer.

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Last weekend we all nipped over to Glasgow to see colin. On the Friday night me & the big man hit the comedy night at the Drygate (review can be read here). The nest day me & Colin mowed his massive lawn while Emily & the girls hit Weegieland for some shopping. The Storries also agreed to have some kind of shindig on the 25th of June, when we do our Nice n Sleazy’s gig in Glasgow. We do have to get a urinal or portaloo or something, though – that’s their condition – & Im not allowed to call it Storriestock!

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Back in the shire, on Monday there was a proper ‘Last of the Summer Wine’ moment. Donna had seen two skips in a bath.. Apparently its all the rage in New Zealand to stick one in the garden & have a fire-bath. “Do I know anyone with a van?” she asks. “Well, Carol’s just bought one!” I replied.  So ta-daa! & now we ALSO have a bath to do something with in te egarden – but I’m thinking more hot water from the tap through a hose rather than heating it up from underneath.

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Pops at the victory parade for Burnley’s championshio

Poetry-wise, I’m chugging through Axis & Allies now – including a few new last-minute additions. the last poem I wrote was inspired by a newspaper article in the Daily Mirror – which I get delivered in the mornings now  – describing the blitz of Liverpool, May 1941. I’ve also got my office looking today, with my library in its traditional nice chronological order. In fact, the whole house is looking nice – Emily’s done well. Im keeping my Burnley house, though, the premiership’s coming back to my beloved town (they just won the championship) so it’d be foolish to leave! Saying that, our padis gorgeous – views front & back & lovely walks all round, its gonna be great to to & fro between the two from now on.

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My first spot of painting – the bird house

Yesterday was a good day. I got up real early & drove out to let Carol’s dogs out. Didnt know I had to shut the utility door, so they were out in the village all day – but no harm done!! Anyway, after that I realised I was experiencing one of those majestical & serene mornings that my new county in May musters with effortlessness. So I took the chance to have a drive about, up to the foot of Lammer Law, scoping it out for a future climb. For me, the photographic results were gorgeous

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Finally, on the Tinky front, things are looking busy. Getting Will on board has had a bonus knock on effect. He works at Red Dog in Edinburgh, who just so happen to run the main stage at the Meadows Musical Festival (June 4-5). So a combo between me, him & the ‘Interview with Al Roberts,‘ we’ve got the gig – penultimate slot on the Sunday. The Email reads;

 

Good afternoon everyone!

Guy from Red Dog Music here. I’m getting in touch to let you know – if you didn’t already – that your band has made it through to the final line-up of the Meadows Festival 2016!

In terms of next steps, all I need from you is a confirmation email letting me know you’re okay to play the slot designated in the list below, and we can start getting promo material out with your name in lights, and put together an official schedule.
If you have any questions, please get in touch with me directly by replying to this email, or call me on 0131 229 ???? during office hours.
Saturday 11am Edinburgh Samba School
Saturday 11:30 Richy Neil
Saturday 12pm Hailey Beavis
Saturday 1pm Sea Bass Kid
Saturday 2pm Miracle Glass Company
Saturday 3pm Jamie & Shoony
Saturday 4pm Samba Sene
Saturday 5pm Secreto Tropical
 
Sunday 11am inChorus Choir
Sunday 11:30 The Beastie Drummers
Sunday 12pm Surf Manchu
Sunday 1pm We Are Dollstoy
Sunday 2pm Noah Noah
Sunday 3pm Monosapiens
Sunday 4pm Tinky Disco
Sunday 5pm Nipples of Venus
Hope you’re all having a great week, speak soon
Kind regards
~Guy @ Red Dog
 ———

Ive also been preparing to record the Tinky Album. I’ve decided its gonna be as good as Seargent Peppers & the first Stone Roses, indeed drawing certain motifs from each in the tradition of proper art. Its also gonna be finished off &  mixed down in krefelf, with Cliff. “About Fuckin’ Time!” he says. So its gonna be a busy summer which, at  the moment, looks like this;

 

Friday, May 27th – Henrys Cellar Bar, Edinburgh

Saturday 28th & Sunday 29th – Recording, Prestonpans

Sunday June 5th – The Meadows festival

Friday 10th- Sunday 12th June – Eden Festival

Saturday June 25th – Nice n Sleazys, Glasgow

Wed 29th June – Wed 6th July – Recording, Krefeld

Friday 15th July – Leith Depot, Edinburgh

Fri 22nd – Sun 24th – Audio Soup, Edinburgh

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Lettuce Seed Bingo (this morning) – just one more square needed (top right) and I’ll have a full house!!!!

Return to the Shire

 

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So I’m back, back in the Shire, & slowly but surely the house is beginning to take shape, life rhythms are beginning to settle & the buds are beginning to spring onto the branches in my lovely new garden. I’ve been planting this week – spring onions, normal onions, potatoes & brussels sprouts in the garden, & lettuce in pots indoors. Axis & Allies is going swimmingly – really getting into the guts of the thing & sprinkling a few new stanzas into the mix, including a couple on the Swing Jugend, a teenage countermovement based upon Brirish & American jazz music. I’d got these from a massive trawl thro all my history magazines, which resulted in another 15 or so new stanzas. I also spent a bit of time with teh Lao Tze Tung & the notebooks of Paul Brunton to kuralise for the future.

IMG_20160429_123748026_HDRAll of last week we were toing & froing between home & Dalmeny – packing & unpacking , cleaning & making a mess – it was chaos. Sky came along at one point, installed a dish, then took it down again (no line of site), while the ex tenant (Lorraine) made a visit to finally clear her huge hoard of crap from the house. Last Friday, after Tinky practice, I went back to an empty Dalmeny for one last night there – a memorybank of bliss, it is the cocoon of my greatest lovefelt, & it was weird, yet wonderful to depart. All the furniture that was left was a matress in the attic, of whose removal from the building Emily wrote;

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Last weekend was cool. Not only did Burnley get promoted back to the Premiership, but I took Tinky Disco wholesaledown to Arran for the Deoch an Dorus festival. It was a nice little life moment – I’d pent many good years of my youth on Arran Street in Burnley (number 7), & finally here I was, crossing the serene waters on a ferry with my funky new band. We have recently acquired a new member – Will – whose a great addition on keyboards. A right funny scene transpired on the morning of the festy. Kenny had stayed on his couch, but with Will in Jonny & Rabs car, had to leave early. Getting a 60 year old, coffeeless self-confessed staller to leave his comfy quilt was impossible & it was amusing to see Jonny practically manhandle him out of the door. Only a timely intervention of me grabbing Will’s keys & promising to lock-up saved any bloodshed.

From there me & Kenny picked up Al, who had skived the previous night’s rehearsal complaining of Delhi Belly & that there was only one hope – if he rested he might… might… be able to play at Arran. After a ‘miraculous’ recovery in the night he was in the volvo, followed soon after by Mike & Serena, & away we went, stopping at Colin’s in Glasgow en route. In the usual Storrie fashion we were ploughed with eggs, coffee, toast, etc, & we left confirming the entire posses stay there for our Glasgow gig on June 25th.

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Dalry, en route to the harbour

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We were joined at Ardossan by Roy (he’d come down on the train) & a coupel of hours later, we were across the water in Arran. A lovely little fauna-fantastic place – Scotland in minature , with the highlands up north – Deoch an Dorus was sited by the sea at North Sannox picnic site. Small but intimate, the party was fun & gig was great, a real energy – plus I had a couple of eccies – first full ones in months. A great, rave, but a hellish return, especially after discovering I’d put my tent up on a mini-flood plain. The Mumble review of the festy is here, including the organisers response to the dead seal story worked up by the tabloids.

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I picked up that very paper yesterday – it was in the local pub in gorgeous ?????. I’d driven down there to watch the Champions League semi (Real 1 Man City 0) after looking after the girls for the afternoon. Nearby was Andrew & some other locals playing cards, & an open fire, & I’m like, I’m home. Later today I’ll be ‘commuting’ back home with Ems (Im in the NLS right now)… an 11 minute train from Waverly to NewCraighall, followed by a 25 minute drive home. This afternoon a few kids & mums are coming over for my first parents & kids thing ever – I’m hopelessly out of my depth, but we’ll see what happens.

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15 more cantos to go

 

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12994460_10153715180348246_7239557658124594534_nI am now sat in the office, the National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh.  Downstairs are my new bass guitar – a fender jazz bass – plus a new amp. Total cost £527. The money’s come from Emily’s recent house sale, god bless hair – I guess I did do some painting & stuff, so its cool. It would have cost more, but Tinky’s new keyboardist, Will, works there & got us a discount. Earlier today I had a sing-song with Mike – we’re working on the songs (for once) & its sounding good. We’ve a gig coming up this Saturday – Wee James’ birthday – plus the big one at Arran at the end of April when Tinky go West-side.

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Working on the lyrics with Mike

Its been a couple of weeks since I got back from Skye, in which time I’ve decided to add 15 more cantos to Axis & Allies, bringing the total up to a Dantean 100. This means 135 tryptychs, some of which are already typed up, but about two thirds are still in pencil form, barely touched since I etched them out a decade & a half ago.

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The New Ranch – Donna’s centre

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The same period saw the visit of Donna Waddington, Emily’s mum & grandma to the girls. It was fun having her over, in tow came some poetry books from her husband on the Harlem renaissance. Her visit also gave me & Ems the opportunity to head to Burnley for a couple of days. En route we saw, for the first time, the new cottage we’ll be moving into – next door to Kenny’s partner.. Its a cracker & the gods really have smile on us. Its weird how fate works – Emily was destined to marry a bass player & I to live in East Lothian. Both of these transpired, but it is only at the second time of asking, & sharing each other’s destiny, that our fates have been properly worked out.

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Leaving about 11 AM, I drove us over the Lammermuirs & into Duns for a baguette & a pannini. Ems loved it & we can pop in from time to time in the future. From Duns we shimmied through the borders on a mini-burnsian tour… Kelso, Jedburgh both passed by before a wee look at the Otterburn battlefield, where I read some of my modernized ballad on the battle – a mixture of the English version & the Scottish ‘Battle of Chevy Chase.

 

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12961551_1621654548159495_7174585620595428844_nFrom there we pottered at Hadrian’s Wall awhile, before passing through Haydon Bridge, a delightful small town spanning the River Tyne. In fact, most of the Border towns a quite beautiful & calm. We also checked out Langley Castle, & decided a romantic night there roundabout our honeymoon would be splendid. We also checked out a marvellous waterfall, whose name Ive forgotten, but was a roaring swirl of nature at its rawest.

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From there we headed due south, along a series of obscure & some rather dodgy roads, especially the one that dropped into Dent valley – a ridiculously magnificent place full of all of nature’s bounties. Then came Settle & before we knew it we were in Burnley at seven o clock in the evening. En route we’d driven from Midlothian into Edinburgh & then into East Lothian, into the Scottish Borders & over the border into Northumberland, before passing through Cumbria (twice) & North Yorkshire before entering Lancashire.

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After calling on Nicky & co (addicted to a new game), we proceeded to chill out at mine, where I turned my house into Damospa – foot rubs, bath-runs & lazy film nests included. Friday night we spoilt all that, however, by hitting the beers with my dad, including a rather funny session with the Accy Roaders down the White Lion. The drive back to Scotland the next day was tiring & hungover to say the least. This route was still wonderful, more new roads.

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IMG_20160416_101835917En route I checked out Black Tower’s view of Pendle – which is almost the one contained in the Shephereds Calendar woodcut. I’m getting closer. I think I have to go back another mile or so to get the exact spot. We then passed through teh Bowland Forest – an amazing place I’d never traversed – through antiquated Slaidburn & Dunsop Bridge – the heart of Britain – before dropping down into Lancaster & connecting with the M6 & the much quicker drive North.

220px-Lunnasting_stoneAlongside Axis & Allies I have also began work on Humanology – my version of the Thirukkural. A prompt was me chatting to Donna about my poeslation while watching the BBC$ ‘Treasure of the Indus series’ in Tamil Nadu, & she, in a rather ‘support my daughter’ fashion urging me to do something with it. So I’ve started & I must say I am fairly romping through it. I am also carrying on with the work on my ‘Camlann & the Pictish King Arthur,’ including a new bit of research with the Attacotti. These were an unplaced British tribe of the 4th century who ate shepardesses’ paps & the buttocks of shepherds, & their name turns up in an Ogham inscription on the Lunnasting Stone in the  Shetlands where they are the ‘Ettecuhets.’ I gave the story to the Shetland Times  actually – its a good un – but they did the usual thing & asked a local historian who did the usual thing & said it was bollox. People just can’t see the woods for the trees.

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Druidry_101_html_108ea1b4The thing is, I’ve started looking at the inscription (Ive got books on Ogham in front of me in the NLS) – & I’ve realised one word has been mistranslated – its actually hcungu, or Cungu, which opens up some very interesting possibilites..

 

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Eriskay & Skye

 

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Two mornings ago, & eighteen years to the day since I set off from Leyton on my first poetic tour, I completed the pen & ink version of Axis & Allies. No more shall I find myself in wonderful scenic spots, converting my research into rhyme & knitting together my vasty poem.  It was our last morning in Skye, & waking before dawn I walked the short distance from Seaview Cottage, a charming cottage on the slopes over Dunvegan, NW Skye, to the Pictish stone erected above the old Colomban church at the Millennium by the locals. With me was Bridei, a mad spaniel & companion to many of my walks in East Lothian – 13 years old but still going strong. Once at the stone I watched the sun tumble up into the Skye & completed my last three tryptychs:- two on the ascent & descent of Mount Olympus & the very last being a stanza on the escape from Treblinka.

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Before then, clearly, was that wonderful week in Skye. After the motown night in Haddington – which was rather sparsely attended, but good fun all the same – we set off on the great drive North. After the unfortunate business of the Green Welly stop-off, I took the wheel & drove practically the rest of the way – through Glencoe, Fort William & on through a wild storm across the Kyle of Localsh to Skye. Not bad for someone who hasn’t even got a provisional. Emily took over once more 20 miles short of Dunvegan – the endlessly winding roads & growing darkness had tired me out – & we arrived at our cottage in Dunvegan just as night was closing in. Unfortunately the estate agent had got the dates mixed up & we were unable to get in – cue mad dash to the hotel for food & a few frantic calls, before not too long after we were in our lovely, warm cottage.

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440_1613682118956738_8202965278448732262_nSo began a great week, our party consisting of 4 kids (Roxy 6, Ivy 8, fergus 10, Eliza 12) – 2 mothers (Emily & Carol), 2 spaniels Bridei & the newly revitalized Larch)  & a poet.  We all got on rather famously, wandering about the island in a jolly old fashion. On the Monday I took Fergus walking up the great table-topped hill that overlooked Dunvegan Bay, on the Tuesday we checked out the old lighthouse near Glendale, while on the Wednesday Emily & I escaped the circus & took a ferry from Uig to Lochmaddy on North Uist. Arriving late at night, we slept in the car by the Atlantic, then took a curious drive round the islands as far as Eriskay in the south. The latter is a charming wee island bejewelling those dazzling azure waters that fill the soul with joy & hope. South Uits is also a great spot – full of history & lovely views. but further north the feeling of visiting the Outer Hebrides is less pleasurable – a number of charmless pre-fab houses built by workers of the oil industry, while flat tepid peat-bogs roll out to the unassuming hills.

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Coral Beach – wrote the penultimate bunch of tryptychs here

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I am now back in Dalmeny, catching up with things & beginning to edit Axis & Allies. I have read through about 50 stanzas of the poem’s final total of 765. I am also engaged to be married, the circumstances of which engagement are rather amusing indeed. Of course Emily & I have fallen massively in love, & have thought of double-barreling our names & inventing a suitable crest, & all that. Anyway, a lass I know who knows very well I’m seeing Emily sends me the following Facebook messages;

SAT 8:13

Damo lost your number. Are u in Edinburgh? Need a chat friend
Call me 07723408***

“How I do love to go up in a swing, up in a swing so high, over the fields and the valleys below, over the fields so high”

SAT 12:45
I’m near loch Ness heading back to Edinburgh – what’s up?

SAT 14:39
My babies have gone to Thailand for 3 weeks. A bit wobbly but out with wee sis tonight. So all ok. Stay good bro x

Bombs
Trump
Blasts
Where is our haven
Let’s have a larf
2000, 2100, 2010? Forgot
where is the purpose
I got stuck
Conformed
little scarecrow person
Straw for a heart

SAT 18:04
Happy holidays

So I showed these to Emily, & a few minutes later I’m checking FB & see people congratulating us on our engagement…  plus the following message from the FB girl only 3 minutes after Emily put the announcement up;

Congratulations! Super happy for you both c
C

Total mental & proof of how women communicate on an astral level. Anyhow, we got over a hundred likes & loads of congrats, plus an engagement party offer in Duval, so I guess its official. Funny as well, I finished my poem in the morning in Skye, drove down the majestic Great Glen of Scotland to get home, then found myself engaged by the evening. Yeah – that’s the way to finish an epic poem.

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