It’s week 11. Don’t forget to vote so I can sled dogs.
This semester has been picked up by Millenium Falcon and thrown into a hyper-jump. Or at least that’s how it feels.
But! Seven essays later, here I am. I just submitted my last Archaeology Report on the Traprain Law Treasure (a giant collection of Roman hacksilver discovered on Traprain Law… east of Edinburgh … in 1919) and what it tells us about Roman Scotland in the 5c. This is probably my favourite essay I’ve written this year because it’s at the beginning of the time period I really love – the (not really/the name is product of Victorian antiquarians simplifying history) Dark Ages.
Story time: When the Roman army left Britain c. 410 CE Rome itself didn’t leave. Roman silver (like the Traprain Treasure) was used to pay off local elites and establish proxy governments to govern in the name of Rome. These proxies didn’t work because … seriously who, after being handed over a ton of silver, would go ‘Ah yes.’ *rubs hands together manically* ‘I am know the sole powerful elite in the area. I have all this money to buy shit and do stuff. The Roman army is no longer here to harass me… but I’m still going to govern for them.’ lol no one.
The local elites, took advantage of the power vacuum created by the retreat of Roman and established the early petty kingdoms of the EMP (early medieval period). This is most clearly see in England (where there was a larger Roman influence than in Scotland) with the establishment of the Northumbrian Heptarchy and later Saxon kingdoms. HOWEVER, in Scotland we do see the rise of the Kingdoms of the Old North: The Gododdin, Strathclyde, and Rheged.
The Traprain Treasure is a huge give away to the weakening of Rome on the fringes of the Empire, especially given Traprain’s location on the fluctuating frontier. Fun Fact: It’s located between the Antonine and Hadrian’s Wall, in a sort of liminal semi-DMZ, so depending on what part of the 1-3c you’re talking it could either be considered Roman or Caledonian.
Anyway, as you can see, I get really excited about the Dark Ages. To be honest, it’s probably because in order to understand the period you have to look at the archaeology and the historical records. In order to find the archaeology you need to look at the records. Albeit, the records were often written 200-300 after the events… so you need to look back at the archaeology to see what parts of the records you can trust. It’s like a puzzle.
The Dark Ages are also really cool to study in Britain because the island is a model of shifting political and cultural activity. The new kingdoms are drawn up on the borders of the old Roman governances and the people continue the uses of a lot of Roman goods and centres. It’s almost like a dystopian history, especially during the 5-6c where the memory of Rome was still very fresh in people’s memory.
There were some recent excavations at Crammond (south of Edinburgh) where they discovered multiple 6/7c burials in an old Roman bath complex. Clearly the baths were not in use anymore… but the people still held them in high regard, enough to bury their elites there. Contemporary writers such as St. Patrick and Gildas also look back at Rome really fondly… it’s fun to see how the views of Rome shift.
So that was my last assignment before exams!
I’m a little tired today because of uni work but also staying up a lot later than I intended playing Tomb Raider. My Dad, while pretty cool, is also incredibly evil. He gave me my Christmas present early JUST so that he could be here to see the moral dilemma. Spoiler alert: It’s an Xbox with the new Tomb Raider. As he said, ‘It’s a gift from me to you… but also a gift from you to yourself. May you learn discipline and time management.’ …. great.
So apologies for lack of posting, frankly I’ve been terribly busy. Things got a little hectic this week with general exam freaking out and essay finishing. I have a bad habit of underestimating what I actually know. While I do know a lot, I feel, at times, I know very little… so I’ve stress read a few books over the past couple of days and watched plenty of supplemental documentaries.
I went for a run today through the Meadows to Holyrood Park and up the Crags just before sunset. It was really pretty and gave me sometime just to chill out. Between the Election and four essays due this month… things have been really crazy. I haven’t had time just to decompress. Which really isn’t good for people who struggle with anxiety like myself. If I’m not given time to decompress I find myself getting overwhelmed really quickly. So, I sat for a while at the top of the Crags, listened to some music, and just looked out to the city… and guys I know I want to be a Medievalist so I’m really biased, but Edinburgh castle is a stunner. And the fact it’s been here for so long made me feel better about things in the present… and if I’m going to be brutally honest, I’m nervous about returning to the States following this election.
Tomorrow is the EUMC Christmas dinner, it’s always nice to get the entire club together for a big social event and force them to not talk about climbing… which is easier than it sounds. Friday, Moana comes out here in the UK and I haven’t gone to see a film in a while so I figured I’d go to that. On Saturday, my flat is throwing a Christmas Party. Next week I’m pent up to revision for my first exam… on Saturday. By this time in 2 weeks, I’ll be done with this semester of university and headed back to Kansas for Christmas.