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Tony Grist

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Lakenheath Revisited [May. 23rd, 2013|09:47 am]
Tony Grist
In Stories From The Dark Earth Julian Richards has been revisiting some of the digs he featured in the 1990s archaeology programme Meet the Ancestors. Science has advanced in the last decade or so and now all sorts of additional information can be gleaned from the findings (which is a great argument for not reburying old bones but keeping them reverently in hat boxes.) Last night he was looking at the Anglo-Saxons.

When archaeologists first dug up a man who had been buried with his horse in Lakenheath, Suffolk- on what was then a USAF base- all they could say with certainty was that he was a warrior. Now we know he came very early in the Anglo-Saxon time-line but was born locally,  that he was related to a number of the people buried near him and that his was almost certainly the foundation burial about which three cemeteries grew.  Also they've reconstructed his horse's bridle; it was a fancy piece of work with dangly bits.

As it happens he features in a poem I wrote after watching Julian's original show. He's an old friend and it's good to know him better.


            Under Number One Baseball field
            The Saxons slumber. Sand devours
            But chalk preserves their skeletons.
            Next to the archer lie his bow
            With six sharp arrows in a quiver.
            Fear him, grievous underworld creatures!
            Fear the knight with sword and shield
            And bridled war-horse laid beside him!
            Graves of children cluster round him,
            Once and always their defender...

            Tock- a baseball sails the sky
            That's scored with wakes of flying ships,
            And rolls to rest beneath the poplars.

[User Picture]From: nineweaving
2013-05-23 04:36 pm (UTC)
Oh, excellent! Thank you.

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2013-05-23 08:08 pm (UTC)
I'm so pleased you like it.
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[User Picture]From: sovay
2013-05-23 04:37 pm (UTC)
a baseball sails the sky
That's scored with wakes of flying ships

I love especially this last verse.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2013-05-23 08:06 pm (UTC)

I think it's really important to get the last lines right. It's what the reader is left with.
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[User Picture]From: endlessrarities
2013-05-23 07:37 pm (UTC)
Ooh, I like that poem!

Haven't seen Stories From the Dark Earth - wish I'd been watching it now...
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2013-05-23 08:07 pm (UTC)

I wrote a lot of archaeological poems back in the day.

Dark Earth has been fascinating. I like Julian Richards. He's a very affable presenter.
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[User Picture]From: lblanchard
2013-05-24 05:27 pm (UTC)
I just watched the Dark Earth episode on the early Saxons, fascinating stuff, placing the warrior in the fifth century.

That's about when/where Tolkien places Arthur in the alliterative poem published yesterday. I assume you've seen the news. It sounds tasty enough that I ordered it (it was also pretty cheap).


Edited at 2013-05-24 07:40 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2013-05-25 07:27 am (UTC)
It seems, though, that Tolkien got the history wrong. The Saxon invaders didn't come with armies, but in small groups- and conquered by dint of cultural superiority. They were the new cool kids on the block.
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[User Picture]From: lblanchard
2013-05-25 01:44 pm (UTC)
This is new information, though... Tolkien was going with the then-current thinking.
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