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Wooden Arm Found in Roman Well in England Is a Real Oddity

Wooden Arm Found in Roman Well in England Is a Real Oddity


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Archaeologists in England have made an unusual discovery in a Roman well. They found a wooden arm at the bottom that is remarkably well-preserved and remarkably skillfully carved . This find is one that is providing new insights into Roman Britain and has been hailed as being both of national and international importance.

A Remarkable Wooden Arm

The discovery of the wooden arm was made by the Oxford East Archaeology Company, during an excavation at Warth Industrial Park in Raunds, Northamptonshire. This was a routine excavation as the Industrial Park is being expanded and this area is rich in archaeology.

An ancient henge or circular construction, some 4000 years old is located not far from Warth Park. The archaeologists were working at the bottom of a stone-lined Roman well when they made their discovery.

The stone-lined well which contained the wooden arm. ( Oxford Archaeology )

The experts retrieved an almost intact wooden arm. According to the Archaeology News Network it “is a representation of a complete human arm, with an open right hand”. The fingers of the arm are broken but the rest of the wooden arm is in very good condition.

The “waterlogged, oxygen-free conditions in the well preserved the rare sculpture” reports Archaeology.org. The well had been filled to the top and this meant that there was no oxygen which helped to conserve the wooden artifact over the centuries.

Photographs of the four sides of the wooden arm represented in a single image. (Oxford Archaeology © Michael Bamforth / Fair Use )

Experts Study the Wooden Arm

The archaeologists from Oxford East took the arm to the University of York and there it was examined by an expert in ancient wood, Michael Bamforth. He concluded that it was made from a single branch.

According to Archaeology News Network , the carver of the arm used the “natural curve to form the elbow”. It appears that the wooden arm was meant to represent a life-like slender limb of a small adult or juvenile. It was clearly the work of a highly skilled craftsperson.

Interestingly there was no sign of a joint, so it was not attached to a larger sculpture. Archaology.org reported that “there is no evidence that the arm was attached to a larger figure”. It seems that the object was carved solely to represent a human arm.

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A scale illustration of the wooden arm. ( Oxford Archaeology )

A piece of the arm was carbon dated and it established that “it was made in the earlier British Roman [period] sometime between 86 and 240 AD”, reports the BBC. Fragments of pottery from the same time period were also found in the well, and this corroborated the finding of the carbon-dating.

Was the Wooden Arm an Offering to a God?

The location of the carved wooden sculpture in the well provides clues as to what the purpose of the arm was and why it was simply discarded. It appears that the carved wooden artifact was a votive offering to some unknown deity. The BBC quoting Bamforth, states that the arm was “in some way significant for votive deposition [ religious offering ]”.

The offering of the representation of the limb was possibly related to the fulfilment of a vow . It was probably deposited in the well to honor or thank a deity. The practice of depositing carved sculptures of body parts in sacred locations such as shrines was common in the Roman Empire and even later.

There have been other significant finds of wooden representations of limbs and body parts that have been found in continental Europe. However, according to the Oxford Archaeology website, “none of the examples date from the same period as that from Warth Park”. This is what makes the carved wooden arm such an important find. Moreover, not many similar votive offerings have been unearthed in England .

The dig were the wooden arm was discovered was being carried out ahead of further development of the Warth Park Industrial Park. ( Oxford Archaeology )

The discovery is as important as it is unusual. It is providing new insights into the religious practices of Roman Britain and indeed the Roman Empire . However, the exact religious reason as to why the wooden limb was deposited in the well is still something of a mystery.


Top 10 famous Roman Gladiators

Roman gladiators or the swordsmen entertained the audience, both regular people and Emperors, by fighting in the arena.

Most of them were slaves or the captured ones who were especially trained to fight in the arena. However, there were a few of them who had chosen their career as the gladiator.

They had their unique style of fighting, some fought with fellow gladiators. Whereas, some with animals.

They used wooden swords, a helmet, and a shield while fighting. They were also awarded Radius which would provide them with freedom after retirement.

They were categorized into numerous classes or types. Some of the classes and types include Samnites, Myrmillo, Secutor, Thracian,Noxii, and Retiarius.

Numerous gladiators were able to create their fame amongst the normal people and the Emperors.

Spartacus is the most famous, skilled, strong, and with impressive techniques. He is well-known for forming a force and also gaining victory over almost all of his fights in the arena.

There are many other gladiators like Crixus, Spiculus, and Flamma, who are also skilled and well-known for their unique personality.

The top 10 most famous Roman Gladiators are listed below with their details.


ɽiscomfort, pain and stigma'

The museum said slavery was commonplace in the Roman Empire and iron shackles - one of the only artefacts with a strong link to slavery - have been found on archaeological sites across the Roman Empire.

However it said shackles were "very rarely" found with human remains, adding this was the first discovery from Roman Britain of a man wearing lockable ankle fetters.

"For living wearers, shackles were both a form of imprisonment and a method of punishment, a source of discomfort, pain and stigma which may have left scars even after they had been removed," said MOLA finds specialist Michael Marshall.

"However, the discovery of shackles in a burial suggests that they may have been used to exert power over dead bodies as well as the living, hinting that some of the symbolic consequences of imprisonment and slavery could extend even beyond death."

An MOLA spokesperson added: "The identity will never be known for sure, although together, the various pieces of evidence present the most convincing case for the remains of a Roman slave yet to be found in Britain."


10 Medieval Torture Devices

­The period known as the Middle Ages stands out as one­ of ­the most violent eras in history. This epoch, lasting roughly 1,0­00­ years, from the 5th century to the 15th­, was a time of great inequality and brutality in much of Europe.

What really sets this time apart is the ghoulish inventiveness that gave rise to a plethora of torture methods. There were many grounds for torture during the Middle Ages -- religious fervor and criminal punishment come to mind -- but why would a person take the time to invent a device designed to maim?

In his 1975 b­ook "A History of Torture in England," L.A. Parry attempted to explain this bizarre phenomenon:

­". What strikes us most in considering the mediaeval tortures, is not so much their diabolical barbarity … as the extraordinary variety, and what may be termed the artistic skill, they displayed. They represent a condition of thought in which men had pondered long and carefully on all the forms of suffering, had compared and combined the different kinds of torture, till they had become the most consummate masters of their art, had expended on the subject all the resources of the utmost ingenuity, and had pursued it with the ardour of a passion."

In this article, we will explore a collection of the most heinous torture devices ever invented. We begin on the next page.

­The Brazen Bull was a hollow brass statue crafted to resemble a real bull. Victims we­re placed inside, usually with their tongues cut out first. The door was shut, sealing them in. Fires would then be lit around the bull. As the victim succumbed to the searing heat inside, he would thrash about and scream in agony. The movements and sounds, muted by the bull's mass, made the apparatus appear alive, the sounds inside like those of a real bull. This effect created additional amusement for the audience, and served the added benefit of distancing them from the brutality of the torture, since they couldn't directly see the victim.

Legend has it that this device was invented by a Greek named Perillus (Perilaus in some sources) for a tyrant named Phalaris of Agrigentum. Expecting a handsome reward for his creativity, Perillus instead became the first person placed inside the Brazen Bull. By some reports, Phalaris himself became an eventual victim of the bull when his subjects grew tired of his mistreatment [source: Gallonio].

Some courts used torture to determine if someone accused of a crime was truly guilty. This torture would take strange forms: Someone's arm would be forced into boiling water, and the verdict would be based on how well the arm healed days later. Other courts simply tortured people to get them to confess to the crime. The courts themselves even recognized, in their twisted way, that a confession given under torture held no legal meaning. Such a confession had to be confirmed by the victims while not being tortured within 24 hours. If they refused, however, they were simply tortured until they confessed again [source: Innes].

­Thumbscrews represent a very insid­ious form of torture. You weren't likely to die from their use, but they created unendurable agony. The device consisted of three upright metal bars, between which the thumbs were placed. A wooden bar slid down along the metal bars, pressing the thumbs against the bottom. A screw pressed the wood bar downward, crushing the thumbs painfully. The thumbscrews were an elaboration of an earlier device known as the pilliwinks, which could crush all 10 fingers and resembled a nutcracker [source: Parry].

Thumbscrews supposedly originated with the Russian army as a punishment for misbehaving soldiers. A Scottish man brought a set home with him and introduced them to the United Kingdom [Kellaway and Parry].

Up next, a very old and very familiar medieval torture device, plus some variations on a theme.

Torture was often included as part of a judicial sentence against a criminal. Authorities responded to increases in crime rates by enacting excruciating tortures upon convicted criminals, usually in a very public manner. The horrifying nature of the punishment was meant to deter other criminals. While the most serious offenses (high treason, mass murder) resulted in severe torture, children were sometimes hanged for stealing food, so not everyone who visited the torturer's chamber was a hardened criminal.

The rack was used throughout Eu­rope for centuries. It came in many forms, but here's the basic idea: The victim is tied down while some mechanical device, usually a crank or turning wheel, tightens the ropes, stretching the victim's body until the joints are dislocated. Continued pressure could cause the limbs to be torn right off. Such torture was known as being "broken on the rack," "racked," or "stretched on the rack." It could be combined with other forms of torture to make things even more painful. In one story, a Christian youth was tied to a wheel and his joints destroyed by the stretching. A fire was lit beneath the wheel, adding to the torture. Eventually, the fire was extinguished by the downpour of blood as the victim's limbs were torn free [source: Gallonio].

One type of rack was known as the Horse. It was a wooden device that vaguely resembled an actual horse in shape. The victim was tied to a beam on the top (the horse's "back"), facing up. Pulleys below tightened ropes affixed to the victim's hands and feet. He or she was stretched until his or her joints dislocated, then left there or slackened and allowed to hang underneath the horse while an inquisitor or judge questioned the victim and tried to get a confession [source: Gallonio]. Torquemada, the infamous torturer of the Spanish Inquisition, was known to favor a stretching rack known as a potoro [source: Goldberg & Itzkowitz].

Wheels were adapted to many torturous u­ses. They could be part of a stretching rack, but medieval torturers were far too creative to leave it at that. Early torturers were fond of tying someone to a large wooden wheel, then pushing it down a rocky hillside. A more elaborate method involved a wheel mounted to an A-frame that allowed it to swing freely. The victim would be tied to the wheel, and then swung across some undesirable thing below -- fire was always a good choice, but dragging the victim's flesh across metal spikes also worked well. The wheel itself could also have spikes mounted on it, so the pain came from all directions. Instead of swinging, the wheel might turn on an axle. The difference was likely immaterial to the victims.

One of the most horrible wheel tortures was akin to crucifixion. The victim would have the bones in all four limbs broken in two places by strikes from an iron bar. Then, the shattered limbs were threaded through the spokes of a large wheel. Finally, the wheel would be attached to the top of a tall wooden pole and left out in the sun for days. The victim might be alive for hours, enduring the agony of his or her mangled arms and legs and the relentless sun, not to mention the attentions of crows [source: Hunt].

Next, we'll learn about two torture methods that were still used even after the Middle Ages had ended.

Bein­g burned at the stake was usually the last stop for torture victims, because this form of torture was invariably fatal. Conceptually, it's a very simple process -- create a pile of dry wood with a stake at the center to tie the victim to, and then light it. The fire does all the work. It usually took about a half an hour before the victim lost consciousness, but if it was windy and the fire was blowing away from the victim, he or she might have to endure up to two hours of being slowly burned to death [source: Bachrach]. Since the victims had usually been previously tortured with the rack or some other method, the pain must have been unimaginable. Despite the horror of simply being burned at the stake, the torturers of the Inquisition in the Netherlands developed a particularly cruel twist: Prior to being tied to the stake, the victim's tongue would be sandwiched between two hot iron plates. The scorched and swollen tongue would only allow strange, muffled screams of pain once the burning began, which supposedly added a great deal to the audience's entertainment.

The cruel irony of the Inquisition's practice of burning people at the stake was that it happened whether you confessed or not. Once accused of heresy, you would almost certainly be consumed by fire. However, if you confessed, you would be strangled to death before the fire was lit, supposedly sparing you the agony. This practice didn't die out at the end of the Middle Ages, however. Both women and men accused of witchcraft were burned at the stake in England, France and other locales well into the 17th century.

The pillory remained in use even later than the stake. A pillory is a­ set of two parallel wooden boards clasped together, with holes for the neck and wrists. When opened, the victim places his or her head and arms through the holes. Then the pillory is closed, and the victim can't possibly escape.

The pillory itself does no harm to the victim, though it's certainly not comfortable. The entire apparatus was usually placed on a stage in a public place -- the entire point was to humiliate and shame the victim for his or her crimes. The crowd would throw objects at the victim, such as rotten vegetables, dead animals or feces. Stones and other blunt objects were thrown as well, which could result in painful injuries or death.

While a spell in the pillory often only lasted an hour or two, usually during the busiest times of day, its effect really depended on the nature of the crime and the mood of the crowd. Four English men who had falsely accused others of crimes to get the reward (sending innocents to the hangman's noose) were beaten to death by the crowd. Others who won the crowd's favor by refusing to pay unjust taxes or mocking government officials were showered with flowers or rescued from the pillory outright [source: Kellaway]. For lesser crimes, the victim might instead be placed in stocks, leg irons that restrained the ankles. While the goal of public humiliation was the same, the stocks allowed victims to protect themselves from thrown objects.

Sometimes, the vengeful crowd was the least of the victim's concerns. The pillory could be accompanied by other punishments, such as flogging or mutilation. British authorities favored branding the face with a mark of shame, such cutting off one or both ears, or slicing the nose lengthwise [sources: Farrington and Parry].

The next section features one of the most infamous torture devices of all time, plus its lesser known cousin.


Southwell Minster

Southwell Minster in Nottinghamshire, England, is not as famous as some of Britain’s other great medieval churches, and neither is it as large. However, it presents superb examples of both Romanesque or Norman and Gothic architecture in a building that suffered little damage during the turbulent years of the British Reformation, Civil War, and World War II.

Construction of the current church building was begun circa 1108, and was essentially completed around 50 years later. The basic layout for churches at that time was the shape of a cross, with the east end as the top, the transepts making the crossing arm, and the nave as the longer extension at the bottom of the cross. The east end held the altar and choir, or quire, which were used by the clergy during daily masses. The nave was accessible to the lay community. Although medieval British churches are basically oriented east to west, they all vary slightly. When a new church was to be built, the patron saint was selected and the altar location laid out. On the saint’s day, a line would be surveyed from the position of the rising sun through the altar site and extending in a westerly direction. This was the orientation of the new building.

In clerical terms, Southwell Minster is a cathedral but rather than rummage in ecclesiastical definitions, this essay will look at the architectural styles.

Interior order

Nave of Southwell Minster (photo: Steve Cadman)


On entering Southwell Minster, the sense of space feels logical and follows a well-defined and rhythmic order. The nave is in the Norman, or Romanesque, architectural style. It is delineated by simple rounded – Roman – stone arches springing from heavy round stone columns. The arcade on each side separates the nave from the side aisles, which allow people to move through the church to smaller side chapels. Above the first tier is a second arcade with smaller arches defining the gallery, and above that is another arcade – smaller still – which includes windows and is known as the clerestory. The ceiling of Southwell Minster is a wooden barrel vault.

The arches, column capitals, window surrounds, and portals are decorated with carved patterns that are geometric and straightforward. Although the material is stone, its lack of detailed texture gives it a plastic quality, especially when seen in some lights. The stone, Permian sandstone, has a warm cream color, while the heavy arches and massive walls impart a feeling of strength and permanence. This commanding style represented effective propaganda for William the Conqueror, who had invaded Britain in 1066 and imposed strong organizational systems in both the Church and government.

From Norman to Gothic

Pulpitum and choir of Southwell Minster (photo: Necrothesp)

The transepts are also in the Norman style, severe and blunt. But as you move further east and enter the quire, the uncomplicated architecture and decoration gives way to pointed arches and curlicue embellishments. The sense of moving to a different building and place are somewhat confusing at first, until you are fully inside the east end and find yourself enveloped in the Gothic style.

The original east end of Southwell, and of many other medieval cathedrals, was found to be too small once the building was completed, so the old east end was pulled down and replaced with a larger extension in the latest fashion. Although the new east end was built within roughly one hundred years of the original building, architecture had moved on quickly. Now the arches were pointed at the top, and the decoration was more and more ornate. Structurally, new techniques allowed for larger windows than were possible in the Romanesque idiom.

Prebendary seats of stone

Foliate carvings at Southwell Minster (photo: Mattana)


The Chapter House, begun circa 1300, is accessible from the north transept, and was the meeting hall of the original prebends (a clergy member drawing a stipend from Anglican church revenues) associated with the minster. Each prebend, who would have held certain responsibilities for his area of the diocese, had a stone seat on the wall of the chapter house. Each seat alcove is topped with decorated trefoil arches and a variety of leaves. The “Leaves of Southwell” have been documented as some of the best medieval stone carvings in England, and represent oak, ivy, hawthorn, grape, hops, and other flora.

Entrance, Southwell Minster chapter house (photo: Necrothesp)

Because the Southwell Chapter House is relatively small, it does not require a center column to support the roof as a larger area would. The octagonal room is topped by a vault carried not only on ribs that reach to the center, but also on cross ribs that span between the main ribs. These intermediate ribs are known as tiercerons, and signify a further development into the more complex and decorated vaults that are an integral part of the English Decorated and Perpendicular Gothic styles.

History and presence

As a whole or in its individual parts, Southwell Minster is a brilliant example of medieval architecture in England and its rapid development over 200 years. The building has suffered relatively little damage or major alteration over its thousand-year life. Indeed, part of its appeal is its architectural integrity, as well as the fact that it is a living (i.e., still in use) building.

As the years have passed, new decoration has been added that reflects a functioning parish community – a baptismal font from 1661, stained glass windows from various centuries, a modern sculpture of Christus Rex from the twentieth century. The church is not overrun with tourists, but is still very much a local parish with an active congregation that continues to use the building, ring the bells, and weave the ties of history into twenty-first century life.


Impalement and the Judas Cradle

Impalement has been a popular torture method throughout history because it's effective. It always ends in death. However, many people wrongly assume that a giant spike going through a body would kill a person quickly. That's not always the case. Take Vlad the Impaler's method, for example. He drove spikes through one of his victim's lower orifices in a way where it would protrude from the neck or upper torso, sometimes the mouth, without hitting vital organs, according to NBC. This method, especially if the pole was rounded, could keep the victim alive for as long as the pole passed through their entire body or longer.

The Judas Cradle was a specific instrument of impalement. It used a pointed pyramid of wood, which the victim was lowered onto, their perineum making contact first. With the help of weights or gears, gravity slowly forced the victim onto the pyramidal spike as it wedged through their body. The condemned persons would usually die from blood loss, according to the Torture Museum. If, for some reason, the victim survived the impalement, infection would take them shortly after. It's not like they cleaned those things.


Transition from Norman to Gothic

The transepts are also in the Norman style, severe and blunt. But as you move further east and enter the quire, the uncomplicated architecture and decoration gives way to pointed arches and curlicue embellishments. The sense of moving to a different building and place are somewhat confusing at first, until you are fully inside the east end and find yourself enveloped in the Gothic style.

The original east end of Southwell, and of many other medieval cathedrals, was found to be too small once the building was completed, so the old east end was pulled down and replaced with a larger extension in the latest fashion. Although the new east end was built within roughly one hundred years of the original building, architecture had moved on quickly. Now the arches were pointed at the top, and the decoration was more and more ornate. Structurally, new techniques allowed for larger windows than were possible in the Romanesque idiom.


Roman Caistor: 'One of largest' Roman Britain temples revealed in Norfolk

The 2nd Century temple site at Caistor St Edmund, near Norwich, has been known about since 1957, but its true scale has only just emerged.

It was built by the Iceni tribe, best known for their leader Boudicca who rebelled against the Romans in AD61.

Archaeologist Prof Will Bowden said its size, 20m by 20m (65ft by 65ft), showed "how important this cult was to the Iceni".

The community archaeology group Caistor Roman Project spent three weeks at the temple site in 2019, working in partnership with the University of Nottingham.

Prof Bowden, the project director, said the post-excavation process had since been completed and this "confirmed that we were looking at a building that was exceptional".

He said it was "one of the largest of its type in Roman Britain" which "indicates not only the importance with which the site was regarded but also that the Iceni had the resources to construct major public buildings should they choose to".

It has remained unknown which gods were worshipped there. Evidence of the worship of Roman gods has been found but the Iceni could have also dedicated the temple to a local deity, as happened at Bath.

Caistor was the site of Venta Icenorum, the smallest Roman regional capital in Britain.

Its forum - the main public building - was less than a quarter of the size of Verulamium, now known as St Albans.

Historians saw its small scale as a sign of the Iceni's impoverishment after Queen Boudicca led the Iceni tribe against the Romans.


The Holy Grail in Maine? History Channel researcher’s theory touches off fresh debate about Phippsburg artifacts

AUGUSTA, Maine — Scott Wolter, a forensic geologist and host of a popular cable television show, believes a trio of inscribed stones found near Spirit Pond in Phippsburg more than 40 years ago are evidence that the famed Knights Templar fled to Maine, among other North American sites, after their persecution in 1307.

“It’s the greatest story that’s never been told,” said Wolter, who is described as a “real-life Indiana Jones” by The History Channel, which airs his show “America Unearthed” on its sister station, H2. “What you guys have in Maine are some of the most important historical relics in the history of the country. … Those stones that you have up there are priceless. They make Plymouth Rock look like a pebble on the beach.”

Perhaps the most bombastic part of the theory? The Knights brought with them the Holy Grail, he said.

Echoing the plot line made famous in author Dan Brown’s best-selling conspiracy novel “The Da Vinci Code,” Wolter claims the Holy Grail is not a cup, but rather the line of descendants from a secret marriage between Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene.

The controversial theory and its high-profile backer are reigniting debate around the stones, which other researchers maintain instead could be proof of a 15th century Norse voyage to Maine.

Still other noted scientists, including those with the Maine State Museum, continue to say the speculation simply muddies a case that is a clear hoax. Museum officials keep the stones in storage in Augusta.

‘Clumsy fakes’

Dr. Bruce Bourque, a professor at Bates College and longtime state archaeologist, said deciphering the authenticity of the Spirit Pond stones was his very first job at the museum.

“My first day of work, which was the first workday in January of 1972, these [stones] were sitting on my boss’s desk. He said, ‘Figure out what’s going on with these,’” Bourque recalled Wednesday.

“I took them to a Harvard linguist named Einer Haugen, and in about 10 seconds, he said, ‘They’re fakes, and in fact, they’re clumsy fakes,’” he continued.

While Wolter and believers in a Norse visit, including retired architect and New England Antiquities Research Association member Sue Carlson, clash on the topic of who made the stones, they agree on at least one thing.

Those who believe that the artifacts are authentic have claimed the reputable Haugen’s swift dismissal of the stones has served as an unfair deterrent to additional research ever since.

Once he called them fakes, legions of other scientists in the mainstream establishment wrote them off as such and wouldn’t listen to any other theories, Wolter and Carlson each said.

But Bourque said serious scholars have been right to follow Haugen’s lead.

Bourque quickly cited a number of errors in the runic inscriptions the late Haugen said represented proof of their modern origins. First, almost halfway across the third line in the most heavily etched stone — popularly referred to as the “inscription stone” — Bourque pointed to two identical symbols made up of vertical lines with circles overlapping the top halves.

The symbols have long been considered representations of the number 10, and because there are two, the year date 1010.

“This is Arabic notation, which the Norse did not do,” Bourque said. “The Norse used Roman notation.”

In another spot, the archaeologist located a runic spelling of “Haakon,” a name used by a string of Norwegian kings in the 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th centuries. The use of double vowels is a modern construct in the language, Bourque said.

Furthermore, Bourque said, pointing to a crisscrossed character appearing throughout the inscription, “This ‘Stung A’ does not exist in Norse language.”

The Hooked X

The “Stung A” is an “X” — the Old Norse symbol for the “a” sound — with a peculiar short line cutting out from its top right arm. Because the same symbol can be found on purportedly runic carvings famously discovered on stones in Narragansett, R.I., and Kensington, Minn., Bourque said the prevailing academic theory is that all the inscriptions are fakes, with carvers of the more recently discovered New England stones using the 1898 Kensington Rune Stone as their source material.

Wolter has another hypothesis about the symbol. In his 2009 book, “The Hooked X: Key to the Secret History of North America,” he wrote that instead of disqualifying all three sites, the symbol validates them.

Wolter said scholars thrown off by the hooked X are limiting their scope of research to the language used by Norse voyagers. He is arguing, to the contrary, that the stones instead were etched by Cistercian monks traveling alongside Knights Templar.

“These archaeologists have all been programmed [to believe the stones are fakes] and they can’t think outside the box,” Wolter told the Bangor Daily News in a recent interview.

The Knights were a religious military group during the time of the Crusades, but in 1307, previous supporters in the Catholic Church and French royalty turned on the order, accusing members of heretical practices and hunting them down.

Wolter said he believes the Knights were a threat not only because of the wealth they had gained over the years — which is what most historians believe — but because they were the biological descendants of Christ. If revealed as members of the divine bloodline, he theorized, their claim to power would rival those of the church and monarchy.

Persecuted, the Knights who weren’t caught and executed went into hiding, Wolter said, and some fled all the way to what is today North America. The hooked X, Wolter theorized, combines the upside-down V representing the male gender, the right-side-up V representing the female gender, and a small V on the top right arm representing a small female offspring.

Together, that’s Jesus, Mary Magdalene and their daughter, Wolter said, and the symbol was one of many used by the Knights and their monk supporters as part of a secret language to communicate with one another without giving away their continued existence.

Like in “The Da Vinci Code,” the theory assumes the Holy Grail has been misidentified for generations as a physical cup in which Christ’s blood was collected during his crucifixion. Wolter subscribes to a long-simmering fringe theory that scholars throughout history mistakenly have clung to the Old French “san greal” — or “Holy Grail” — instead of the similar but more accurate phrase “sang real,” or “royal blood.” In other words, the bloodlines of Christ.

In addition to a mention on a more recent episode of his show, “America Unearthed,” Wolter explored the theory in depth on a predecessor documentary, “Holy Grail in America,” aired for the first time four years ago on the History Channel.

Finding the stones

The late Walter Elliot, who died more than 15 years ago, was a hardscrabble Bath man with a high school education. He occasionally hiked in the area looking for arrowheads and other prehistoric artifacts, and in May of 1971, announced he had found three strangely chiseled stones near Spirit Pond in Phippsburg.

“The amount of publicity it generated right off the bat was amazing,” said Roslyn Strong, Maine coordinator for the New England Antiquities Research Association.

“Today, we’d say it ‘went viral,’” added Carlson, her colleague.

Strong and Carlson called Wolter’s Knights Templar theory outrageous, and say it’s so fantastical it threatens to drive other serious researchers away from the stones for fear of being associated with the claims.

“We get painted with the same brush as all the nuts,” Strong said.

But while NEARA members disagree with Wolter’s findings, they agree that the Spirit Pond stones deserve more study.

Carlson was raised by a Swedish father and can recall Scandinavian poetry from her youth. She said the 16-line rhythm of the etchings on the “inscription stone” followed a common pattern she remembered from those poems.

Carlson dismissed the Harvard linguist Haugen’s claim the stones were covered in “gibberish,” saying he based that determination on an assumption it was Norse language circa 1010.

Carlson said she believes it’s much more likely the stones were carved by Norse explorers in the 1400s, and using the later evolution of the language, she has translated it to be a poetic tale about a journey westward across stormy seas.

Perhaps bolstering Carlson’s theory is the location of two rectangular craters a few hundred yards from where the stones were found. An archaeologist excavated one in the early 1970s, proclaimed it was the remnants of a sod house and, using carbon-dating of a wood sampling from the site, said it dated back to around 1405.

Sod houses, Carlson noted, were typical Norse architecture at the time and similar remnants discovered at L’Ans aux Meadows in northern Newfoundland have been widely accepted as proof of a Norse encampment there.

Additionally, another of the Spirit Pond stones, the “map stone,” depicts what is now the Popham Beach area of Phippsburg and an open channel between Spirit Pond and the Atlantic Ocean — reflecting the conditions seen there well more than a century before Elliot found them. When the stones were found, the channel had been choked off with sediment buildup and ultimately dammed off by locals who wanted to harvest ice from the pond.

Carlson said it’s unlikely Elliot, whom she described as genuine and no-nonsense, was versed enough in geological history to have included that detail in a forged map, even if the runic inscriptions could be explained away by accusations he copied them from a book about the Kensington Rune Stone.

‘The latest and grandest’

“Maps are easy [to fake],” said Maine State Museum archaeologist Bourque. “He was familiar with this area. All he would have had to do was take out a gazeteer and trace it.”

While Bourque admitted he kept an arm’s distance from the excavation of the so-called sod house, he said it just as easily could have been a cellar from a Colonial-era homestead that happened to include old wood in its construction.

Perhaps most damning, petrographic slices of the stones taken in the early 1970s showed a layer of significant surface weathering built up over time, and “the grooves of the inscription cut clearly through that,” Bourque said.

“If they’d been laying out in the Maine weather for 1,000 years, they wouldn’t have stayed such clean incisions,” he said. “That weathering would have been seen in the grooves as well as on the other surfaces.”

Bourque said Wolter’s theory is “just the latest and grandest” in what has been a string of theories about the authenticity of the Spirit Pond stones over the years. And like the others, he said, the Knights Templar hypothesis eventually will quiet down.

“Most people figure out eventually that these things are fake and move on,” he said, gesturing at a line of previous theorists’ books and papers laid out across a table in a state storage area. “[In this book] it’s a secret code, then here it has something to do with ancient navigation, Sue Carlson thinks it’s poetry and now Scott Wolter believes it’s a Knights Templar plot.”


Historical Methods of Hair Removal

Ladies, have you ever forgotten to shave your legs, underarms or bikini area, then donned an outfit that showed your hairy figure perfectly to the world?

Men have you forgotten to shave your face, rolled out bed when the alarm clock didn’t go off and then showed up to work looking scruffy and stubbly? Or oh know! You didn’t wax your back before going to the beach…

We’re talking about hair removal today, and when it came about and why it’s so important. I’m giving you a very short version of history, but you should be able to get the basic ideas.

Hair removal didn’t start just yesterday, or even a hundred years ago. It has been around since caveman times. Although some things have changed, mostly which part of the body we’re removing hair from, the techniques have only been honed a little with technology.

Removing hair from the head and face of men was originally not for vanity purposes but for survival. It is known that not only cavemen did this but ancient Egyptians as well. There have been speculations that for safety, scraping off the beard and hair on the head would take away the advantage of an adversary having anything to grab onto. For cavemen it was possibly known that those with less hair had less mites, hence scraping the hair from the face.

Now I keep saying scrape…why scrape? Well they didn’t have Gillette or Bic back in the day…They would take sharp rocks, sea shells or flint blades and literally scrape the hair from their faces. I’m sure not only hair came away. um…OW.

The ancient Egyptians were known to have better forms of razors made of flint or bronze. They also used a method of depilatory called sugaring. A sticky paste (bees wax was sometimes used) would be applied to the skin, kind of like waxing. Then a strip of cloth was pressed onto the paste and yanked off, removing the hair.

There is a rumor going around that women have only been removing hair from their legs for the last hundred years or so. Well that is true for American and European women. The fact that removal of body hair for Europeans wasn’t popular gives sense to the fact that American women didn’t shave, because most of the immigrants were European. However in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Middle Eastern countries, removing body hair was important. In fact these women removed most of their body hair, except for t the eyebrows. Egyptian women removed their head hair. Having hair down under was considered uncivilized. Now any men reading this should know the women were not the only ones to remove their pubic hair…

It was also considered uncivilized for men to have hair on their face. Having a scruffy face meant you were a slave or servant, definitely of lower class. Is that why corporate guys and politicians always have clean shaven faces? Do we associate a clean shaven face with someone powerful?

In the ancient Roman Empire, hair removal was often seen as an identifier of class. The wealthy women would remove their body hair with pumice stones, razors, tweezers and depilatory creams.

(Check out this painting that was painting in the 1800's by French painter, William-Adolphe Bouguereau. Venus is devoid of body hair, and you will notice in most paintings throughout history the women are void of body hair. )

There was also another technique used called threading. The women would take some string or yarn and lace it through the fingers of both hands, then vigorously rub it on the area therefore tugging, ripping, pulling the unwanted hair away…

We do know European women did not engage in body hair removal during the middle ages. In fact it wasn’t until Elizabethan times that Euro women began the practice of hair removal…except they didn’t remove leg, armpit or pubic hair…they removed their eyebrows and the hair from their foreheads to give themselves a longer brow.

This look was so fashionable that it is said, mothers would often rub walnut oil on their children’s foreheads to prevent hair growth. They were also said to use bandages covered with vinegar and cat’s poo. Gross!

The Perret razor was invented in the 1760’s by French barber, Jean Jacques Perret. It is an L-shaped wooden guard that holds the razor and is supposed to reduce the damage done to skin (ex: cuts!) when shaving.
(left picture)

However it wasn’t until the 1880’s that a much safer razor came along. Meet King Camp Gillette. He wasn’t a king, that was just his name. He was an American businessman, and in case you didn’t recognize his last name, he was the inventor of the Gillette razor. (right picture)

In 1915, the first women’s razor came out. It was in this same year that an edition of Harpers Bazaar magazine came out with an issue featuring a model wearing a sleeveless dress and *gasp* no hair in the armpits!

Thus started the ritual we have today of shaving away the unwanted hair.

So what do you think? Do you like shaving? Wish it wasn't a big deal? Check out the polls on the main page.


Watch the video: Waffen und Ausrüstung eines römischen Legionärs (February 2023).

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