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Thread: The Gewisse

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    The Gewisse

    Something interesting I stumbled upon...

    One Friday afternoon in august 1974 I was excavating a Romano-British farmstead near Abingdon, in Oxfordshire. One of my colleagues, Charlie Chambers, returned from an expedition to a near-by gravel pit at Berinsfield, just north of Dorchester-on-Thames. He had been to investigate some Roman fields, the remains of which were rapidly disappearing into a gravel quarry. We particularly wanted to know if there were any waterlogged biological deposits there that might tell us about the landscape contemporary with our farmstead.

    "I've found a Roman Well," Charlie said, "and there are some human bones on the spoil heap." Immediately we jumped into our Land Rover and returned to the quarry. When we arrived it was like walking on a pebbly beach. A massive dragline had just stripped the topsoil away revealing the yellow gravel surface below. Narrow, dark, rectangular marks were clearly visible, scattered across the gravel - the outlines, familiar to any archaeologist, of human graves.

    I knelt down on the nearest one and cleaned over the surface with my trowel. Immediately the blade caught on something hard and metallic. It only took a few moments to reveal the pyramidal shape of iron boss, the centrepiece of a circular wooden shield - a type classified by archaeologists as early Anglo-Saxon, dating to about AD 500. Under it would, almost certainly, be the skeleton of an adult male.

    Over the next three weeks a team of forty people - professional archaeologists, local volunteers, and students from Oxford - worked almost every hour of daylight to uncover the burials of 118 individuals, mostly inhumations, or bodies laid in graces, but also four cremations placed in hand-made pots.

    These people were distinctive in death. Many of the men and boys over about twelve were buried with long iron-tipped spears, knives, and circular shields of lime wood, with heavy iron bosses of the kind that I had found in the first moments on the site. Some of the women wore swags of amber and glass beads, suspended between the glided saucer brooches that pinned their woollen dresses at the shoulder.

    The richest burial was of a young woman. In life she had suffered from a painful abscess on the left side of her mouth and chewed on the right. Any archaeologist knows that if modern life has one blessing, it is dentistry. when her relatives had placed the young woman in her grave, they had covered the body with rushes, probably cut from the banks of the nearby river Thame. She had a woollen dress and been wrapped in a heavier woollen cloak. A linen shroud had covered her face. All this could be detected from forensic evidence. Slight fragments of textiles mineralised where they came into contact with metal.

    Her jewellery marked her as a young native woman of the Gewisse, the West Saxon tribal group that occupied the upper Thames valley from the late fifth century. The two large saucer brooches were typical badges of identity, worn by Gewissan women in the later sixth century, cast in bronze decorated with an abstract central sun symbol, then glided. Around her waist was a belt, long since rotted away, had been held by a heavy copper-alloy buckle, typically Frankish in style and more often worn by women of Kent around 550 - 600. The great square-headed brooch on her left shoulder was very distinctive, decorated with stylised male heads with pointed beards, stylised human masks, and biting animal heads. The prototypes of such brooches are found in Scandinavia, and the closest parallel in Briton is from Alfriston, Sussex.

    The Swags of amber beads covering the girl's chest probably came from scandinavia directly. Amber was found on the shores of the Baltic and traded into Britain. The beads were not merely decorative: their warm orange colour and magnetic properties when rubbed probably marked amber out as a curative material with magical properties suitable for amulets. In a harsh world of primitive medicine the girl in grave 102 needed all the help she could get. and that was not much: she died at the age of about 18.

    Miles, David The Tribes of Britain: Who are we? where do we come from? New Tribes, New Kingdoms P. 156-157

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    Senior Member TXRog's Avatar
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    The Gewisse

    Quote Originally Posted by Gall-Gaidheal View Post
    Something interesting I stumbled upon...

    One Friday afternoon in august 1974 I was excavating a Romano-British farmstead near Abingdon, in Oxfordshire. One of my colleagues, Charlie Chambers, returned from an expedition to a near-by gravel pit at Berinsfield, just north of Dorchester-on-Thames. He had been to investigate some Roman fields, the remains of which were rapidly disappearing into a gravel quarry. We particularly wanted to know if there were any waterlogged biological deposits there that might tell us about the landscape contemporary with our farmstead.

    "I've found a Roman Well," Charlie said, "and there are some human bones on the spoil heap." Immediately we jumped into our Land Rover and returned to the quarry. When we arrived it was like walking on a pebbly beach. A massive dragline had just stripped the topsoil away revealing the yellow gravel surface below. Narrow, dark, rectangular marks were clearly visible, scattered across the gravel - the outlines, familiar to any archaeologist, of human graves.

    I knelt down on the nearest one and cleaned over the surface with my trowel. Immediately the blade caught on something hard and metallic. It only took a few moments to reveal the pyramidal shape of iron boss, the centrepiece of a circular wooden shield - a type classified by archaeologists as early Anglo-Saxon, dating to about AD 500. Under it would, almost certainly, be the skeleton of an adult male.

    Over the next three weeks a team of forty people - professional archaeologists, local volunteers, and students from Oxford - worked almost every hour of daylight to uncover the burials of 118 individuals, mostly inhumations, or bodies laid in graces, but also four cremations placed in hand-made pots.

    These people were distinctive in death. Many of the men and boys over about twelve were buried with long iron-tipped spears, knives, and circular shields of lime wood, with heavy iron bosses of the kind that I had found in the first moments on the site. Some of the women wore swags of amber and glass beads, suspended between the glided saucer brooches that pinned their woollen dresses at the shoulder.

    The richest burial was of a young woman. In life she had suffered from a painful abscess on the left side of her mouth and chewed on the right. Any archaeologist knows that if modern life has one blessing, it is dentistry. when her relatives had placed the young woman in her grave, they had covered the body with rushes, probably cut from the banks of the nearby river Thame. She had a woollen dress and been wrapped in a heavier woollen cloak. A linen shroud had covered her face. All this could be detected from forensic evidence. Slight fragments of textiles mineralised where they came into contact with metal.

    Her jewellery marked her as a young native woman of the Gewisse, the West Saxon tribal group that occupied the upper Thames valley from the late fifth century. The two large saucer brooches were typical badges of identity, worn by Gewissan women in the later sixth century, cast in bronze decorated with an abstract central sun symbol, then glided. Around her waist was a belt, long since rotted away, had been held by a heavy copper-alloy buckle, typically Frankish in style and more often worn by women of Kent around 550 - 600. The great square-headed brooch on her left shoulder was very distinctive, decorated with stylised male heads with pointed beards, stylised human masks, and biting animal heads. The prototypes of such brooches are found in Scandinavia, and the closest parallel in Briton is from Alfriston, Sussex.

    The Swags of amber beads covering the girl's chest probably came from scandinavia directly. Amber was found on the shores of the Baltic and traded into Britain. The beads were not merely decorative: their warm orange colour and magnetic properties when rubbed probably marked amber out as a curative material with magical properties suitable for amulets. In a harsh world of primitive medicine the girl in grave 102 needed all the help she could get. and that was not much: she died at the age of about 18.

    Miles, David The Tribes of Britain: Who are we? where do we come from? New Tribes, New Kingdoms P. 156-157
    Fascinating story, brother Gall-Gaidheal and thanks for sharing.

    As you stated, there are a few consolations to modern living - the being dentistry, medicine, even reading glasses for that matter.

    However, nice "niceties" as telephone, television and computers are highly overrated - the only true consolation being that I have a device whose technology enables me to reach out to my extended Germanic family throughout the world.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TXRog View Post
    Fascinating story, brother Gall-Gaidheal and thanks for sharing.

    As you stated, there are a few consolations to modern living - the being dentistry, medicine, even reading glasses for that matter.

    However, nice "niceties" as telephone, television and computers are highly overrated - the only true consolation being that I have a device whose technology enables me to reach out to my extended Germanic family throughout the world.
    Definitely true. Plus the wealth of information that is widely available for free, and the ability to share ideas amongst kinvolk.

    It's a shame that the majority of Germanics do not know their ancestral roots. Most think after the collapse of the Roman Empire, we lost civilisation, but what they forget is, after trying to fight against a tyrannical force that we overcame, we migrated, expanded, and traded with one another.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gall-Gaidheal View Post
    Definitely true. Plus the wealth of information that is widely available for free, and the ability to share ideas amongst kinvolk.

    It's a shame that the majority of Germanics do not know their ancestral roots. Most think after the collapse of the Roman Empire, we lost civilisation, but what they forget is, after trying to fight against a tyrannical force that we overcame, we migrated, expanded, and traded with one another.
    In complete agreement with you here.

    However, I have always had a longing for the past (especially ancient times - the Roman Empire, the Viking Age [my favorite], the American West, etc.) even as a child and history has fascinated me even before I could read.

    However, and to be completely honest, if I had my choice though, even with many of the modern conveniences of today, I would go back to a much simpler, freer time, when a man had greater freedom to pursue life as he saw fit without the encroachment of "Big Brother" government and being a slave to society.
    Last edited by TXRog; Wednesday, August 17th, 2011 at 01:09 PM. Reason: spelling

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    Senior Member Winterfylleth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TXRog View Post
    As you stated, there are a few consolations to modern living - the being dentistry, medicine, even reading glasses for that matter.
    Reading glasses aren't that modern, they were invented in Italy in 1286.

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    When I first joined here I considered having Gewisse as my user name, but decided to go with something a bit more localised

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