This is the Podcast for the Virtual Tour of Edinburgh
To find out or book for the Edinburgh walk and other walks this week end click here
A Virtual Tour Through The Whole Island Of Great Britain. No.5 Edinburgh
Monday 2 May 2022 7 pm
A Virtual Walk Through the Athens of the North
Borrowing my title from Daniel Defoe’s early chorography, my first Circuit is from Chester to Edinburgh. Now on the last stop on this first circuit we are taking a virtual tour of the most extraordinary City – Edinburgh.
Edinburgh is a very unusual City as it was built on the saddle of a hill so its main street runs down the ridge of a hill and the City falls away on either side. This lack of flat land and restricted space led to the City growing upwards. This gave the City an extraordinary density and an unique atmosphere that we will be exploring.
In the Georgian period the City was extended with the addition of a new town quarter which was rationally planned and made a marked contrast on the old Town. Together it gives the Capital of Scotland, a combination of atmospheric and claustrophobic town planning with the elegance of a City that was one of the great Cities of the Enlightenment.
We will begin the virtual walk in the shadow of Arthur’s Seat at the shiny new Scottish Parliament and walk up the Royal Mile from Holyrood to Tollboth, to the Netherbow and onto the Castle at the pinnacle of the City
So on Saturday the 30th I am doing 2 guided walks and one Virtual Walk.
ROMAN LONDON – A LITERARY & ARCHAEOLOGICAL WALK
Saturday 30 April 20/22 11.30 am Monument Underground Station
This is a walking tour features the amazing archaeological discoveries of Roman London, and looks at life in the provincial Roman capital of Londinium.
We disembark at the Roman Waterfront by the Roman Bridge, and then explore the lives of the citizens as we walk up to the site of the Roman Town Hall, and discuss Roman politics. We proceed through the streets of Roman London, with its vivid and cosmopolitan street life via the Temple of Mithras to finish with Bread and Circus at the Roman Amphitheatre.
Publius Ovidius Naso and Marcus Valerius Martialis will be helped by Kevin Flude, former Museum of London Archaeologist, Museum Curator and Lecturer.
The walk tells the story of London’s myths and legends and the Celtic Festival of Beltane.
The walk begins with the tale of London’s legendary origins in the Bronze Age by an exiled Trojan called Brutus. Stories of Bladud, Bellinus, Bran and Arthur will be interspersed with how they fit in with archaeological discoveries. As we explore the City we also look at evidence for ‘Celtic’ origins of London and how Imbolc may have been celebrated in early London.
The virtual route starts at Tower Hill, then down to the River Thames at Billingsgate, to London Bridge and Southwark Cathedral, to the Roman Forum at the top of Cornhill, into the valley of the River Walbrook, passed the Temple of Mithras, along Cheapside to the Roman Amphitheatre, and finishing up in the shadow of St Pauls
This is a London Walks Virtual Walk. Look at their web site for a list of other of their amazing walks.
The first sunny day of the year inviting enough to eat in the garden, partly because is is north facing, and its only now getting a decent time in the sun; and partly because it was a stonking warm sun. The Haggerston Rivera in the background is full of people deciding that this is the day to get it all out out in the sun. But also there is still a small proportion of people dressed ready just in case a chill north wind arrives unexpectedly.
Its also the death of the daffodils day – at least in my garden. Still a few tulips and even one or two yet to bloom. But the star of my garden at the moment is Honesty, which you can see to the left of the table (an old door repurposed). I first grew it on the balcony and it has now spread down and appeared in three places, and is rather lovely.
Its latin name is Lunaria annua because the silver seed pods look like a full moon, but they also look like silver coins. Therefore it symbolises wealth. It’s name Honesty is said to come from the translucent pod revealing the seeds beneath, honestly.
The book you see on the table s written by a friend from my Museum of London days who has recently published a book on Shakespeare’s time living in the Parish of St Helen’s near Bishopsgate.
Yesterday, I wrote about the Lupercal and Parentalia festivals in Ancient Rome. Today, I listened to an old ‘In Their Time’ Radio 4 Podcast on Ovid which reminded me that the poet wrote more than the ‘Art of Love’ and the ‘Metamorphoses’. And so I explored his ‘Fasti’ which is a sadly unfinished set of verses on the Roman year. I’m looking forward to dipping into it as I explore the coming year.
It is a major source for the Lupercal and Parentalia, and does a better job than I did yesterday explaining how the name of the month February came from purification
I hoped to begin mining ‘Fasti’ today but this is what Ovid says about the 16th February ‘Next day is vacant.’ This is surprisingly encouraging to me because I have found it hard work finding something to say about some days. You can fill in with generalities, but the specific feels so much better, and if Ovid can just say nought happened. Then its good enough for me. If you want to read ‘Fasti’ for yourself this is the translation I am using.
I said ‘sadly unfinished’ because Pūblius Ovidius Nāsō was exiled by the Emperor Augustus when he was half way through the Fasti. So the last entry is for 30th June where he says: ‘put the last touches to my undertaking’ suggesting he knew he was ending it here. He was exiled until his death ten years later in Tomis, on the Black Sea. Its not clear exactly why he was exiled ostensibly for the immorality in ‘The Art of Love’, but as that was published almost a decade earlier it seems strange. Was he involved with a plot against Augustus that saw the Emperor’s own daughter exiled? Her lover was Lullus Antonius, son of Mark Antony. Unlike Julia’s other lover’s he was forced to commit suicide. But this also happened years before Ovid’s exile, so neither does it make any great sense of the great man’s punishing exile. However, Julia’s daughter was herself exiled closer to the time of Ovid’s exile and her husband, Lucius Aemilius Paullus, was executed for treason. Ovid said the reason for his exile was a ‘poem and a mistake’. The nature of that mistake is not recorded but he said the crime was worse than murder and more harmful than poetry.
Here is one of my favourite Ovid quotations. I quote from my own book which you can buy at the link at the bottom of the page.
‘Ovid, writing in Augustus’ reign, provides our guide to the flesh-pots of a Roman town. Here he recommends how the aspiring male should dress for a night out on the town:
Don’t torture your hair, though, with curling-iron: don’t pumice
Your legs into smoothness. Leave that
To Mother Cybele’s votaries, ululating in chorus
With their Phrygian modes. Real men
Shouldn’t primp their good looks …
… Keep pleasantly clean, take exercise, work up an outdoor
Tan; make quite sure that your toga fits
And doesn’t show spots; don’t lace your shoes too tightly,
Or ignore any rusty buckles, or slop
Around in too large a fitting. Don’t let some incompetent barber
Ruin you looks: both hair and beard demand
Expert attention. Keep your nails pared, and dirt-free;
Don’t let those long hairs sprout
In your nostrils, make sure your breath is never offensive.
Avoid the rank male stench
That wrinkles noses. Beyond this is for wanton women –
Mother Cybele’s votaries were castrati, hence their high pitched voices. Cybele fell in love with Attys, who made her jealous, so Cybele turned him mad, whereupon he castrated himself and bled to death. The Mother Goddess had him resurrected body and soul and he enjoyed divine bliss ever after. A Cybelian castration device, dredged out of the Thames, can be seen in the Roman Gallery of the British Museum.’ The translation is from Green, Peter (Trans) ‘Ovid The Erotic Poems’ Penguin Classics, London 1982‘
Its quoted in In Their Own Words – A Literary Companion To The Origins Of London‘ D A Horizons, 2009. Kevin Flude
To buy Kindle version click here. To buy paperback (for £5.99) email kpflude AT anddidthosefeet.org.uk
This is the first reference to St Valentines as a romantic day. There are at least three Saint Valentines who were martyred in the Roman period and their relics are scattered around Europe (have a look at this National Geographic article for the full S.P.) But until Chaucer no one seemed to link any of them with love.
Chaucer’s poem suggests one possible route to the link with romance. This is about the time when birds pair off – if they want to have their chicks at optimal time, then they need to get going before spring has really sprung.
This is my translation.
For this was St. Valentine’s Day When every bird came there to chose their mate. Of every type that men think may And that so huge a noise did they make That earth and see and tree and every lake So full was, that hardly was there space For to stand so full was the place.
Magpies are my favourite love bird, because you see one, and then look around and you soon seen the pair. There is an old tradition that you are supposed to say
‘Hello, Mr Magpie! How’s your wife’
and its good luck if you see her and not if you don’t. But I normally do. As to the seven, ten, or thirteen magpie in various versions. They always seem in pairs to me.
One for sorrow, Two for joy, Three for a girl, Four for a boy, Five for silver, Six for gold, Seven for a secret, Never to be told. Eight for a wish, Nine for a kiss, Ten a surprise you should be careful not to miss, Eleven for health, Twelve for wealth, Thirteen beware it’s the devil himself.
For details of the versions of this poem click here:
This was first raised by Plutarch, and it concerns a crucial issue in conservation/restoration which is how to maintain authenticity in the face of replacing worn out parts of an object or structure. The idea is, perhaps, most economically discussed in ‘Any Fools and Horses’ in the scene known as Trigger’s Broom.
Now you are ready to appreciate the philosophic issue that is discussed in this short video by the Khan Academy. Click here.
The Ship of Theseus also appears in the Novel ‘S’ written by Doug Dorst and conceived by J. J. Abrams. in 2013. The book is a story within a story with an innovative ‘interactive’ thread with a novel called the Ship of Theseus which is annotated by two people and also contains press cuttings and printed ephemera in the two characters attempts to identify the mysterious author of ‘The Ship of Theseus. The Ship itself is, replaced part by part as the story develops.
The day Jesus is presented to the Temple as a young boy. jesus is prophesied to be ‘a light to lighten the Gentiles’, and so the day is celebrated by lighting candles. Clearing a festival marking the lengthening days
If it is cold and icy, the worst of the winter is over, if it is clear and fine, the worst of the winter is to come.
Its also the official end of all things Christmas.
Robert Herrick has a 17h Century poem which expresses this.
Ceremony Upon Candlemas Eve
Down with the rosemary, and so Down with the bays and misletoe; Down with the holly, ivy, all Wherewith ye dress’d the Christmas hall; That so the superstitious find No one least branch there left behind; For look, how many leaves there be Neglected there, maids, trust to me, So many goblins you shall see.
In Persuasion, Jane Austen’s best novel, the moany Mary Musgrove writes a typically FOMO letter which shows how Christmas continued to February 1st.
“”February 1st Letter from Mary Musgrove to Anne Elliot.
“My dear Anne,–I make no apology for my silence, because I know how little people think of letters in such a place as Bath. You must be a great deal too happy to care for Uppercross, which, as you well know, affords little to write about. We have had a very dull Christmas; Mr. and Mrs. Musgrove have not had one dinner party all the holidays. I do not reckon the Hayters as anybody. The holidays, however, are over at last: I believe no children ever had such long ones. I am sure I had not. The house was cleared yesterday, except of the little Harvilles; but you will be surprised to hear they have never gone home. Mrs. Harville must be an odd mother to part with them so long. I do not understand it. They are not at all nice children, in my opinion; but Mrs. Musgrove seems to like them quite as well, if not better, than her grandchildren. What dreadful weather we have had! It may not be felt in Bath, with your nice pavements; but in the country it is of some consequence. I have not had a creature call on me since the second week in January, except Charles Hayter, who had been calling much oftener than was welcome. Between ourselves, I think it a great pity Henrietta did not remain at Lyme as long as Louisa; it would have kept her a little out of his way. The carriage is gone to-day, to bring Louisa and the Harvilles to-morrow. We are not asked to dine with them, however, till the day after, Mrs. Musgrove is so afraid of her being fatigued by the journey, which is not very likely, considering the care that will be taken of her; and it would be much more convenient to me to dine there to-morrow. I am glad you find Mr. Elliot so agreeable, and wish I could be acquainted with him too; but I have my usual luck: I am always out of the way when any thing desirable is going on; always the last of my family to be noticed. What an immense time Mrs. Clay has been staying with Elizabeth! Does she never mean to go away? But perhaps if she were to leave the room vacant, we might not be invited. Let me know what you think of this. I do not expect my children to be asked, you know. I can leave them at the Great House very well, for a month or six weeks. I have this moment heard that the Crofts are going to Bath almost immediately; they think the Admiral gouty. Charles heard it quite by chance; they have not had the civility to give me any notice, or of offering to take anything. I do not think they improve at all as neighbours. We see nothing of them, and this is really an instance of gross inattention. Charles joins me in love, and everything proper. Yours affectionately,.”
Christmas at Uppercross In Persuasion (Chapter 18)
Snowdrops are also called Candlemass Bells. Snowpierces and Death Flowers. The latter because they grow in Churchyards, were the same colour as children’s mourning clothes, and this protected them from being picked as it was felt that to do so was ill-omened.
We first discussed St Agnes on Distaff Sunday. St Agnes was a martyr who, at 13 years old, refused to marry a pagan, and was martyred as a result, by being stabbed in the throat. She is well attested and in a list of martyrs dating to AD345. She is patroness of young women and of chastity.
Folklore held that a maid could dream of her future lover on St Agnes Eve, if she took certain precautions. John Keats use this tradition in his epic poem, which begins with a great description of winter.
St. Agnes’ Eve—Ah, bitter chill it was! The owl, for all his feathers, was a-cold; The hare limp’d trembling through the frozen grass, And silent was the flock in woolly fold: Numb were the Beadsman’s fingers, while he told His rosary, and while his frosted breath, Like pious incense from a censer old, Seem’d taking flight for heaven, without a death, Past the sweet Virgin’s picture, while his prayer he saith.
Keats sets up the drama with a poetic description of the folklore:
They told her how, upon St. Agnes’ Eve, Young virgins might have visions of delight, And soft adorings from their loves receive Upon the honey’d middle of the night, If ceremonies due they did aright; As, supperless to bed they must retire, And couch supine their beauties, lily white; Nor look behind, nor sideways, but require Of Heaven with upward eyes for all that they desire.
In the poem the maid Madelaine goes to sleep to dream of her love Porphyro . He risks everything to visit the young girl, and watches her while she sleeps. She dreams of him and seeing him when she wakes she lets him in her bed thinking she is still dreaming. They escape and run away together.