Monday, June 29, 2009

Queen visit is Culloden 'first'

The Queen will meet schoolchildren during her visit

The Queen has visited Culloden Battlefield and the £140m Glendoe hydro power scheme in the Highlands.

She became the first British monarch to set foot on the battlefield - the site of the Jacobite defeat of 1746.

Archaeologist and Culloden expert Dr Tony Pollard said her visit was a "landmark" event in the history of the site.

Glendoe, above Loch Ness near Fort Augustus, is generating electricity following a major construction project.

Last year it generated to its maximum level for a full 24 hours for the first time during a rehearsal ahead of coming on stream. The Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) scheme can create up to 100 megawatts - enough electricity for about 250,000 homes.

A 220-metre long tunnel boring machine was used to gouge out a five mile tunnel for the plant.

It took 15 months to complete the digging operation.

Local schoolchildren were invited to give the machine a nickname and decided on Eliza Jane after first considering Tin Lizzie - a character in the Beano - and then changing their minds because it was not "posh enough".

Another quirk of the construction project was that the main tunnel was blessed.

Superstitious workers placed an icon of Saint Barbara - the patron saint of miners as well as artillery gunners and mathematicians - inside it.

Glendoe is the first large-scale hydro-electric project since 1957.

It turns rainfall into hydro energy through a nine-mile network of tunnels linking a dam above Loch Ness to a generating station 2,000 feet below.

SSE expect the project would pay for itself over the next 10 years.

Culloden was the last battle fought on British soil. IT brought an end to a major military campaign by Charles Edward Stuart - Bonnie Prince Charlie - to claim the British throne.

June 1746 was a key time in the hunt for the prince and saw him aided by Flora Macdonald.

She famously took him to Portree on Skye while he was disguised in women's clothing and pretending to be an Irish maiden by the name of Betty Burke.

MacDonald was later arrested and sent to the Tower of London.

Eventually, at Loch nan Uamh near Arisaig, two French vessels L'Heureux and Le Prince Conti and their crews reached Prince Charlie and he was taken to France.

The Queen will be given a tour of Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre, which opened in December 2007.

Its owners the National Trust for Scotland (NTS) spent £9.5m constructing and fitting out the building and restoring the battlefield.

"Bonnie Prince Charlie, grandson of James VII and II who was deposed in 1688, and the Duke of Cumberland, second son of George II, were both present during the battle, leading the opposing armies.

"The visit should be regarded as an honour to all of those who died in the battle and its aftermath and represents a welcome contribution to long healing process which has followed the events of 16 April 1746."

He added: "The visit is also a recognition of the first class status of the National Trust Visitor Centre and battlefield site which is an international flagship for the public presentation of historic battlefields."

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Rats are not the people you think they are...

The most widespread of all mammals that don't walk on two legs or drive cars (at least not yet), rodentia of the Rattus genus are most famous in Western culture as sewer-dwelling, corpse-nibbling cornucopias of contagion who gnaw their way into our homes and use our cereal boxes as toilets.

To be fair, a part of this monstrous reputation is firmly rooted in reality. Besides costing us billions of dollars a year in property damage, rats are one of the most widespread ecological pests in the world, feasting on defenseless native wildlife wherever they've been introduced and even driving other species to the brink of extinction.

On the other hand, the same can be said of a much larger, even more destructive species that happens to be reading this very article as we speak, and while your average person finds rats at least a little creepy, it's probably not because they eat endangered kiwi eggs. Filth, plague and pestilence are what rats are known best for in popular culture, and any extermination company will tell you that rat germs are an immediate, serious and costly threat to you and your entire family.

Oh, but not that costly. They have a very reasonable payment plan. Nothing's too good for your family, you know.

But if rats are really such a biohazard, one must wonder why we don't hear about it more often. If you're living in a city, chances are good you have thousands of the precocious imps breeding right under your feet at this very moment.

The truth is that while you certainly shouldn't pull one out of a storm drain and put it in your mouth, there isn't any scientific basis to assume that rats are exceptionally disease-prone animals. This stereotype primarily stems from the infamous Black Death, an outbreak of bubonic plague speculated to have killed over 75,000,000 people during the mid-1300s. But it was actually transmitted by the fleas of warm-blooded mammals in general. Rats appeared responsible for the plague only because they were so common.

This was also during an era when our most scientific explanation for disease was some sort of divine punishment or witchcraft, and mankind had neither the facilities nor interest in washing their damn hands. Now obviously bubonic plague isn't a problem these days, and you'll be hard pressed to find a rat-spread disease that is. According ot the Center for Disease Control, rats don't even spread rabies.

That's right, despite their absolutely staggering numbers, rats are one of the animals you're least likely to get sick from.

Ca the Yowes Tae the Knowes, my latest video

Friday, June 26, 2009

Day two complete at the Royal Highland Show

The Queen has visited the Royal Highland Show at Ingliston near Edinburgh for the first time in 25 years. The show itself is celebrating its 225th anniversary.

Willie Johnston reports. Watch the video!

Be sure not to miss the last days at the Royal Highland Show!

Scottish Churches to proclaim Gospel at Royal Highland Show

Posted: Wednesday, June 24, 2009, 11:16 (BST)

Scotland’s churches will unite to share a pavilion at this year’s Royal Highland and Agricultural Show at Ingliston outside Edinburgh.

The show is one of the largest events in the UK, attended by thousands of people.
Although individual churches have had stands at the show, this year the Scottish Churches Rural Group has brought them together in a Scottish Churches Pavilion.

The pavilion demonstrates the united witness of Scotland’s churches and in 2009 will be the focus for visits by church leaders, with the head of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland Cardinal Keith O’Brien visiting on the show's opening day on June 25.

Commenting on the move, Scottish Churches Rural Group member Rev John Woodside said the Scottish Churches Pavilion would provide a "quiet space in a busy show ground" and offer a place for church leaders to talk to visitors and especially school children about issues such as fair trade, migrant workers and faith.

Rev Woodside added: “We are also grateful that for 2009 the churches have been invited to have a presence in the show’s education centre and with that the opportunity to touch on a wider range of issues.”

the rose amang the thorn

by Roy Gullane

Bonnie lass sae dear tae me
Ower the hills ayont the water
Nane sae blin' that cannae see
She is my ain, my dearie O

Oh the rose amang the thorn
She's ta'en a heart that widnae flee
And steired it oot amang the staurn
The bonnie lassie lo'es me

Gin I had but one last day
In her airms I'd rowe sae rarely
By her side fain wid I lay
'Til a' life's cares gaed easy O

(Chorus 2x)

Nae sea sae braid, nae bunemaist ben
Nor ilka thraw that pairts us sairly
Nae nicht sae lang could e'er forfen'
I lie my lane, my dearie O


Here's tae the lass sae braw, sae trig
Here's tae the kindness gied sae gladly
She wha kissed me 'neath the brig
She is my ane, my dearie O

(Chorus 2x)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

I live in a rural county yet the air quality is poor!

Spring may finally be in the air, but so is major pollution. At least according to the American Lung Association, which just released its 10th Annual "State of the Air" report. In it, Erie, Niagara and Chautauqua counties all received failing smog-level grades and all remained among the state's worst for air quality.

In fact, Erie County was one of only three (Bronx and Queens counties are the other two) to earn a failing grade of F (out of an A-F grading scale) for both smog and soot levels.

Ozone, or smog as it is commonly called, generally forms when sunlight and burning fuel (gas from vehicles, factories, power plants, etc.) react, and its health consequences can range from coughing and wheezing to asthma attacks and, in extreme cases, premature death. Particle pollution, or soot, is created by tiny bits of solid and liquid (exhaust, metals, aerosols, chemicals) particles in the air and, according to an assistant professor of chemistry at Niagara University, has also been linked to incidence of asthma, along with other health issues.

According to the American Lung Association, which based its 2009 report on data gathered from 2005-2007, smog and soot comprise the major types of air pollution in the United States. Interestingly, ozone levels are influenced, in part, by weather patterns, and both cooler and wetter weather in a given region result in fewer high level ozone days.
So, what can Western New Yorkers do to combat their failing pollution grade? The American Lung Association of New York suggests residents drive less, use less electricity, and try not to burn wood or trash. Other proposed solutions call for federal action to reduce emissions at coal-fired power plants, and for the use of technology wherever possible to reduce diesel emissions from counties' existing fleet and tightening up pollution standards.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Standing ovation for Boyle at Wembley gigs

Published Date: 22 June 2009
BRITAIN'S Got Talent star Susan Boyle received a standing ovation last night, when she performed live at Wembley Arena in London.
Boyle, 48, has missed several live dates, including two shows in Nottingham on Saturday, to take rest days due to the stress of being in the spotlight, but she returned to to perform at the two London shows as part of the talent show's tour.

The singer, from Blackburn, West Lothian, sang her semi-final tune, Memories, from the musical Cats, and I Dreamed A Dream, from the musical Les Miserables – the song that brought her worldwide fame.

A spokeswoman for the show said after Boyle's second Wembley appearance: "They were on their feet for her. It was a standing ovation."

Boyle became the focus of international attention after her powerful audition performance left the audience and judges open-mouthed with surprise.

Boyle was taken to the Priory Clinic in central London hours after losing in the final. One of the show's judges, Piers Morgan, said the church worker was emotionally drained and exhausted.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Susan Boyle given Glasgow ovation

Susan Boyle received a standing ovation when she sang at the Britain's Got Talent tour in Glasgow, a day after cancelling two concerts.

Her publicist said the singer received a "rapturous" reception from the audience at the city's SECC venue.

The singer from West Lothian had been advised to rest rather than perform at two shows in Manchester on Sunday.

Boyle had previously been treated for exhaustion after coming second in the ITV1 talent show.

Publicist Nicola Phillips said the crowd in Glasgow broke into applause halfway through her performance of Memory, from the musical Cats.

She also sang I Dreamed a Dream from Les Miserables, the song that propelled her to international fame.

Boyle had performed both songs in Birmingham on Friday and sang during matinee and evening shows in Sheffield on Saturday.

But in the later concerts she appeared to stumble over the words to Memory and received a mixed reaction from the audience.

Concert-goers at the Manchester Evening News Arena arrived on Sunday to find notices announcing Boyle would not perform at either of the scheduled matinee or evening shows.

"She sends her sincere apologies to her fans for not appearing in Manchester," her spokesman said.

The crowd in Manchester booed after Britain's Got More Talent presenter Stephen Mulhern told the audience Boyle would not be performing, before a video clip of her "journey" was played on stage.

Ticket holders had the option of a refund if they decided they did not want to watch the show - but a spokesman for the MEN arena said only seven people asked for their money back over the course of two shows.

The arena tour, which will travel across the UK until the end of June, showcases winning act Diversity plus some of the other finalists and semi-finalists, including Boyle.

Friday, June 19, 2009


"It's beautiful the Summer month of June
When all of God's own wildflowers are in bloom
And sun shines brightly most part of the day
And butterflies o'er lush green meadows play.

Light hearted skylark songster of the wing
High o'er the quiet and lonely moorland sing
Above her nest cloaked by the tangled heath
Her charming song so exquisitely sweet.

So mellow the gentle breath of june day breeze
The birds rejoicing on the leafy trees
And dappled trout in pool bed of the stream
Bask in the sun their spotted skins agleam."

- Francis Duggan, June

Be Sure to Get Yourself to the Royal Highland Show!

The show is organised by the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland, an organisation of over 13,000 members. The 2009 Show will be held between 25-28 June.

Royal Highland Show preview: Stunning displays promised

12 June, 2009

This year’s Royal Highland Show, which takes place on June 25-28, is shaping up to be one of the best yet with a focus on all things Scottish and its largest ever display of livestock.

The Royal Highland Show, which is this year being hosted by Aberdeen Area, has received record livestock entries totalling more than 5,000 head of cattle, sheep, goats, horses and poultry.

Organisers are now faced with the task of fitting in nearly 1,000 cattle, 1,500 sheep and almost 2,000 horses.

Show manager David Dunsmuir says: “We have had an overwhelming response from exhibitors and, in some sections, we have too many entries to fit the stock accommodation available. We are now working on a solution.

“One thing is certain, the display of livestock will be stunningly impressive with the pride of British and Scottish genetics on show.”

As the focus of the show is Homecoming and celebrating all that is good about Scotland, Mr Dunsmuir adds it is appropriate the traditional breeds which gave Scotland its reputation for stocksmanship and breeding have increased their entries this year.

In the beef section, Highland cattle lead the way with 130 entries (91 last year) followed by the Limousin at 129 (124).

In addition, the Salers breed will be hosting its international convention at the show with entries in the Salers classes more than trebled to 67, from 21 in 2008.

In the sheep lines, the popularity of the Texel as a terminal sire is reflected in an entry of 237 compared to 190 last year. Beltex comes next with 187 and there are excellent entries of Blackface at 88 and North Country Cheviots which, with park and hill sections, total 139.

In the light horse section, where the show’s top prize, the Queen’s Cup, will be awarded, there are nearly 1,600 entries with Hunters Under Saddle and Coloureds sharing top billing with 153 forward. In heavy horses, there are 352 entered with Highland Ponies at 184.

Dairy cattle entries have yet to be finalised.

Best of the rest of the attractions:

•Aberdeenshire President’s Initiative – An “Aberdeenshire Village” in the Food and Drink Hall will showcase 18 North East food companies, plus chefs from local hotels and restaurants, promoting and demonstrating local food. Aberdeenshire exhibitors will be identified throughout the showground and there will be local arts, crafts and music.

•Renewable Energy. Introduced last year, this enlarged exhibit will feature more than 20 companies who specialise in wind and solar power, biomass and alternative energy sources.

•Food and Drink at the Royal Highland. The top exhibition of Scottish food and drink plus speciality foods from other areas, non-food ancillary products and cookery demonstrations with emphasis on the current trend “buy local, eat local”.

•Countryside Area – The seven-acre site incorporates a one-acre loch and stunning landscaping. Trade stands, demonstrations and events, reflecting a range of country sports and activities – gundogs, falconry, fly fishing, ferrets, terrier racing and sheepdogs. The Rural Marquee features traditional skills, from fly tying to wood turning.

•MacRobert Theatre – The purpose built sheep shearing facility. National pride is at stake in the Highland Shears Open competition. Look out for the haka when Scotland take on New Zealand in a shearing test match.

•Children’s Discovery Centre – Run by the Royal Highland Education Trust. This centre is a for the young visitor, either in an organised school party or with mum and dad. Hands-on activities help children understand more about the countryside, food and farming.

•Music – Classical Brit Award winners, the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards will be topping the musical bill at the Show. The pipes and drums of one of Scotland’s most senior regiments will be appearing on Friday and Sunday with music from their award-winning album Spirit of the Glen – Journey.

They top a musical programme embracing almost every sound from Scottish favourites the Alexander Brothers to the pan pipes, percussion and guitars of Kantarro from the Peru.

A winning Pony from the 2005 Show by Beth Maxwell Boyle

The Song I Can't Shake

I have been singing this for days and it won't leave me! I learned it from Ian Benzie. I feel haunted!


C F G C Am

I wish I was in Carrickfergus

Dm G C

Only for nights in Ballygrand
F G C Am

I would swim over the deepest ocean

Dm G C

Only for nights in Ballygrand.

Am G

But the sea is wide and I can't swim over,


And neither have I the wings to fly


If I could find me a handsome boatsman

Am Dm G C

To ferry me over to my love and die.

Now in Kilkenny, it is reported,

They've marble stones as black as ink

With gold and silver I would support her

But I'll sing no more now till I get a drink

I'm drunk today, but then I'm seldom sober,

A handsome rover from town to town

Ah, but I'm sick now, my days are numbered.

Come all ye young lads and lay me down.

Gaelic Lyrics:

Do bhí bean uasal seal dá lua liom,
's chuir sí suas díom fóraíl ghéar;
Do ghabhas lastuas di sna bailte móra
Mar go dtug sí svae ['sway'] léi os comhair an tsaoil.
Ach dá bhfaighinnse a ceann siúd faoi áirsí an teampaill,
Do bheinn gan amhras ar m'ábhar féin;
Ach anois táim tinn lag 's gan fáil ar leigheas agam.
Is go mbeidh mo mhuintir ag gol im' dhéidh.
Do shiúlaíos Éire is an Mhumhain le chéile
Is cois Beann Éadair ag lorg mná,
Is ní fhaca éinne ar fhaid an méid sin
Do dhein mé phléasáil ach mo Mhalaí Bán.
Mná na hÉireann do chur le chéile
Is nach mór an t-aeraíocht dom san a rá;
'Sé dúirt gach éinne a chonaic mo spéirbhean.
Go dtug sí svae léi ó Chontae an Chláir.
Tá an ghrian ag imeacht is tá an teas ag tréigean
Is an tart ní féidir liom féin do chlaoi,
Mar go bhfuil an geall orm ó Shamhain go Féabhraí
Is ní bheidh sí reidh liom go dtí Lá Mhichíl;
Ach geallaim féin daoibh nach mar gheall ar an méid sin
A d'iontaíos féinig i gcoinne na dí,
Ach mar gheall ar mo chéad searc a dhein mé thréigean -
Chuaigh sí ag bailiú déirce dá clann iníon.
Agus táim tinn breoite is mo chos dheas leonta
Ó ghabh an ógbhean úd tharam isteach;
D'iarras póigín uair nó dhó uirthi,
For I'd long to roam with my own sweetheart.
For I'm tired of drinking and I'm seldom sober!
I'm a constant rover from town to town!
But now I'm dying and my days are over -
Come Malaí, a stóirín, and lay me down!

In modern times, "Carrickfergus" became known after actor Peter O'Toole related it to Dominic Behan, who put it in print and made a recording in the mid-1960s. The middle verse was allegedly written by Behan.

The song has been recorded by many well known performers including Declan Affley, Joan Baez, Dominic Behan, Charlotte Church,Ian Benzie, De Dannan, Joe Dassin (as Mon village du bout du monde), The Dubliners, Bryan Ferry, Brian Kennedy, Declan Galbraith, Lisa Kelly, Loreena McKennitt, Órla Fallon, Van Morrison, Bryn Terfel and Ronan Keating. The song is a popular request at folk festivals and concerts, and was played at the 1999 funeral of John F. Kennedy, Jr.

English Lyrics

I wish I was in Carrickfergus, only for nights in Ballygran
I would swim over the deepest ocean, the deepest ocean for my love to find
But the sea is wide and I cannot swim over and neither have I wings to fly
If I could find me a handsome boatman to ferry me over to my love and die
My childhood days bring back sad reflections of happy times I spent so long ago
My boyhood friends and my own relations have all passed on now like melting snow
But I'll spend my days in endless roaming soft is the grass my bed is free
Ah to be back in Carrickfergus on that long road down to the sea
And in Kilkenny it is reported there are marble stones as black as ink
With gold and silver I would support her, but I'll sing no more now till I get a drink
I'm drunk today and I'm seldom sober, a handsome rover from town to town
Ah, but I'm sick now, my days are numbered so come all ye young men and lay me down

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Devil's Beef Tub buyout proceeds

Devil's Beef Tub buyout proceeds

The forest trust has raised the funds necessary to complete the purchase of the Devil's Beef Tub - a site once used to conceal stolen cattle

A forest trust in the south of Scotland has raised £700,000 to buy a stretch of land once used to hide stolen cattle.

The deal allows 1,580 acres of land at the Devil's Beef Tub, near Moffat, to be dedicated to woodland, low intensity farming and conservation projects.

The Borders Forest Trust (BFT) has been fundraising for about 18 months in order to secure the site.

Director Willie McGhee said the trust was looking forward to the "exciting challenge" of managing the land.

The trust secured a legal option to buy the land at Corehead Farm in December 2007.

It now hopes to secure entry to the site on 9 July.

The group intends to create a "mosaic of habitats" across the hills it has purchased.

Mr McGhee said: "Our vision of restoring the Ettrick Forest across the Southern Uplands is now a step closer and our grateful thanks go to everyone who has contributed to the appeal.

"BFT looks forward to the exciting challenge of managing this very special part of Scotland."

The trust hopes to return traditional farming to the site with a reduction in sheep levels.

English attacked

It also aims to restore a wide range of habitats and plant community orchards.

It is hoped this will encourage the return of plants, birds and animals such as golden eagle, black grouse, otter, mountain hare, emperor moth, juniper, aspen and globeflower to the area.

The area itself is a historically important one.

The Border Reivers used to hide stolen cattle in the deep valley of Devil's Beef Tub.

William Wallace is also associated with the site.

His sister married the Laird of Corehead Tower and Wallace gathered men from the Ettrick Forest and the Border clans at Corehead to lead his first attack against the English in 1297.


The Devil's Beef Tub is a deep, dramatic hollow in the hills north of the Scottish town of Moffat. The 500-foot (150 m) deep hollow is formed by four hills, Great Hill (1527 ft, 465 m), Peat Knowe, Annanhead Hill, and Ericstane Hill. It is one of the two main sources of the River Annan; the other is from the neighbouring Hart Fell to the east. Its unusual name derives from its use by the Border Reivers to hide stolen cattle; it is also called Marquis of Annandale's Beef-stand after the Lord of Annandale, chief of the raiding "loons" (here meaning "lads", rather than "lunatics").

On August 12, 1685 fleeing covenanter John Hunter attempted to escape pursuing dragoons by running up the steep side of the Beef Tub. He failed, was shot dead on the spot, and is buried in Tweedsmuir kirkyard (churchyard). A monument to Hunter stands on the southwest rim of the Beef Tub

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Susan Boyle gets a standing ovation

Susan Boyle gets a standing ovation after wowing the crowd on the first night of Britain's Got Talent live tour

By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 1:09 AM on 13th June 2009

Perhaps it was the absence of the judges or the fact she knew she had nothing to lose.

But when Susan Boyle stepped on to the stage for the Britain's Got Talent live tour in Birmingham on Friday, she showed none of the nervousness she had demonstrated in previous performances.

The Scottish spinster, who left The Priory just nine days ago after suffering from 'exhaustion', was given a standing ovation after performing two songs.

Miss Boyle got off to a faltering start, appearing to be slightly out of time during the first verse of Memory from Cats - the song she performed in the Britain's Got Talent semi-final.

But she soon seemed to get into her comfort zone, lapping up the crowd's cheers and looking a different person to the fragile individual who entered the Priory.

Wearing the same floor-length glittering dress she sported in the show's final, Miss Boyle reached her arms out to the audience and blew kisses during her performances of Memory and I Dreamed A Dream.

Before exiting the stage, the Scottish spinster replaced her trademark shimmy with a more dignified bow.

'Everyone was wondering how Susan was going to do,' one crowd member said.

'But she looked confident and her voice sounded amazing. She didn't look like someone who was in the Priory just a week ago.'

Ancient mass grave found on Olympics site

By Stefano Ambrogi – Fri Jun 12, 10:44 am ET

LONDON (Reuters) – An ancient burial pit containing 45 severed skulls, that could be a mass war grave dating back to Roman times, has been found under a road being built for the 2012 British Olympics.

Archaeologists, who have only just begun excavating the site, say they do not yet know who the bones might belong to.

"We think that these dismembered bodies are likely to be native Iron Age Britons. The question is -- how did they die and who killed them," said dig head, David Score, of Oxford Archaeology.

"Were they fighting amongst themselves? Were they executed by the Romans? Did they die in a battle with the Romans?

"The exciting scenario for us possibly is that there were skirmishes with the invading Romans and that's how they ended up chopped up in a pit," he told Reuters.

When the main Roman invasion force landed in Britain in AD 43, Claudius' legions moved swiftly through western England to subdue fierce Celtic tribes.

The skulls and other bones were unearthed at a place called Ridgeway Hill, on the construction site of a new major relief road to Weymouth, on the Dorset coast in southwest England.

The seaside town -- in the heart of Thomas Hardy country -- is to host sailing events for the London Olympics.

The grave site is close to Maiden Castle -- Europe's largest Iron Age hill fort where local tribes are said to have staged a last stand against the Roman legions after the invasion.

Some historians believe the Romans sacked the site, butchering its population including women and children, before burning it to the ground.

Score said they had counted 45 skulls so far in the 6-meter wide pit, together with a tangle of torsos, arms and legs, More could be found in the coming weeks.

Most of the skulls were those of young men, supporting the theory they could have been killed in battle or executed en masse.

"One of the things that we will be looking for is do they have sword cut marks on the bones, and how were the heads dismembered: prior to or after death in an act of victory," Score said.

Archaeologists say they could also be Roman citizens or indigenous people who had died through disease or disaster.

Few artifacts have so far been found with the bones, though pottery shards dating to the late Iron Age and early Roman period have been found scattered around the pit.

"It is rare to find a burial site like this one," Score said. "There are lots of different types of burial where skeletons may be aligned along a compass axis or in a crouched position, but to find something like this is just incredible."

(Editing by Steve Addison)

Touch and go as Boyle joins tour

Susan Boyle went on stage as part of the Britain's Got Talent live tour's first night in Birmingham - after a last minute decision.

She appeared during the second half of the show at the National Indoor Arena and blew a kiss to screaming fans.

The singer performed I Dreamed A Dream and Memory from the musicals Les Miserables and Cats respectively.

Doubts had persisted over the 48-year-old's fitness to perform after she became ill with exhaustion.

The singer was introduced to the stage by ITV2's Britain's Got More Talent presenter Stephen Mulhern, who described Ms Boyle as being "famous all over the world."

He added: "She's so famous even her pet cat Pebbles is famous."

A tour spokeswoman only confirmed she would sing shortly before the show started.

There had been concerns about her health following her admission to the Priory clinic with exhaustion after she came second in the ITV1 contest.

Boyle's spokeswoman had earlier said it was the star's decision whether she would perform and that she was under no pressure to agree.

Her brother Gerry told the BBC she had been "showing signs of anxiety".

Overnight success

The singer, from West Lothian, shot to fame after surprising the show's judges with her rendition of I Dreamed A Dream in her first audition.

Since then the clip has been watched millions of times on the internet.

She has appeared on various US TV programmes, including Oprah Winfrey's talk show.

However, the pressure on the former church volunteer seemed to have taken its toll after she was admitted to the private clinic, where she stayed for five days.

The arena tour, which will travel across the UK until the end of June, showcases winning act Diversity plus the other nine finalists, including Boyle.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Sweet Memory

The Peonies are in Bloom here!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Killed by a Gutless Coward!

The killer one James von Brunn, an 88-year-old white supremacist from Maryland.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A lone gunman killed a security guard at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum on Wednesday before being wounded himself by return fire from other guards, sources confirmed to CNN.

Stephen Tyrone Johns was shot and killed while working at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum on Wednesday.

The suspect was identified as James von Brunn, an 88-year-old white supremacist from Maryland, two law enforcement officials told CNN.

The museum identified the guard as Stephen Tyrone Johns.

The gunman entered the museum at 12:50 p.m. with a rifle and immediately shot a museum security guard, said Chief Cathy Lanier of the District of Columbia's Metropolitan Police Department. Two other security guards returned fire, wounding the gunman, she said.

Both the gunman and a security guard were taken to George Washington University Hospital, where the gunman was in "critical" condition, said D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty. Neither Lanier nor Fenty would identify the gunman.
The museum released a statement saying Johns died "heroically in the line of duty."

"There are no words to express our grief and shock over these events. He served on the Museum's security staff for six years. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Officer Johns' family," the statement said. "We have made the decision to close the Museum tomorrow in honor of Officer Johns, and our flags will be flown at half mast in his memory."

Von Brunn is a known Holocaust denier who reportedly has claimed that the book "The Diary of Anne Frank," about a teenage girl's experiences under Nazi rule, was a hoax. The shooting occurred two days before what would have been Anne Frank's 80th birthday.

Emergency vehicles converged on the area, which is near the Washington Monument and other popular tourist attractions. The museum was full at the time, with a "couple of thousand" people inside, said William Parsons, the chief of staff.

"Never take your guard force and security people for granted," Parsons said. "They did exactly what they were supposed to do to protect people in the museum." Law enforcement analyst talks about how this could have happened »

An FBI official said there was no prior warning or threat against the museum. In a later statement, the FBI said members of its National Capital Response Squad and Joint Terrorism Task Force are taking part in the investigation.
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Law center: Shooting suspect has 'long history' with neo-Nazis

Lanier said the area around the museum was checked by bomb-sniffing dogs as a matter of routine.

President Obama was made aware of the incident, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters.

"I walked in and I told him there had been a shooting at the museum," Gibbs said, adding that Obama was "obviously concerned for the security guard that appears to have been hurt ... obviously saddened by what has happened." See where the museum is located »

A witness, who identified herself as 19-year-old Maria without providing a last name, told CNN she heard five shots and saw a security guard lying wounded on the ground.

"It was definitely a security guard, he was down bleeding on the floor," she said. "He was face down. His back ... blood was coming out."
Dave Pearson, a sixth-grade teacher in the Washington area, said he was on the museum's fourth floor when he heard a loud noise.

"At the time, we're visiting and all of a sudden there's like a boom, and all of a sudden they told us to stop where we're at," he told CNN's Ed Henry.

"Only thing we heard was a boom, and that was it." Watch another museum visitor tell what he saw »

A woman who did not give her name said she understood the shooting happened inside the museum near the security checkpoint at the entrance.

She said she was quickly evacuated.

"We did see yellow tape down the hall when we were being rushed out," she said. "They came in and said we had to leave right away, and they got us out."

The museum was closed for the rest of the day, and the museum statement said: "Our thoughts and prayers go out to the officer and his family."

A statement by the Israeli Embassy expressed shock and sadness at the shooting and said it condemned the attack. Fenty called the shooting "an extremely isolated incident" in the nation's capital, which is a major tourist destination.
"In these days and times, you never know when someone is going to grab a gun and use it in an inappropriate way," he said.

Haters of Liberty

The shooting of Dr. Tiller and now this shooting in the Holocaust Museum in D.C. demonstrate how the far right has become a bigger threat than the terrorists from over seas they keep warning us are an eminent danger to US citizens. The Republican party and its marriage to right-wing, pseudo-christian loons is the biggest danger to the constitution and our republic that has ever been. These people call themselves patriots but they embrace demagoguery and fascism. They are war mongers and haters of liberty. They say they believe in freedom of speech but that is only for their own. For anyone else they try to shout them down or muzzle them in the press and in government. If you love this country and you are a patriot how can you kill? How can you belong to a group that calls themselves "right to life" but advocates the death penalty and the shooting of people that disagree with you. If you believe in the law how can you become outlaws and shed blood? Sometimes I really fear for President Obama's safety in these troubled times. Our Lord Jesus tells us to love one another. Lets stop this madness? Let us Pray?

John Knox

The banner of reformation in Scotland was taken up by John Knox (1515-1572) , who after a colourful early life (he was a galley slave for a while) brought Calvinist beliefs to Scotland in 1558. Knox was soon a leading light of the Presbyterian way and a zealous politician who made a treaty with Queen Elizabeth I of England that gained for himself and his friends the direction of their affairs at that time. Knox was zealous in his beliefs and at times intolerant of the papists. He was also dangerously outspoken for his own good at times. But these traits made him the essential catalyst for change, and exercised a powerful influence in moulding the religious and educational life of Scotland. He was a vehement critic of Mary Queen of Scots who sought to return to the Catholic church, and had to make judicious withdrawals to the continent from time to time. But he persevered and with the `Lords of the Congregation` saw through the establishment of the Presbyterian faith in Scotland.

The Treaty of Edinburgh 6 July 1560 established Scotland as an independent Protestant nation and in August 1560 Knox urged the Scottish Parliament to declare the Reformed Faith (Presbyterianism ) as the national religion. Popery was of course, condemned . In the same year an alliance was formed with the Protestant English government of Queen Elizabeth I and a French military presence in Scotland was expelled. The first General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church met on 20 December 1560 and the First Book of Discipline ( rules for managing the Church ) and Confession of Faith were produced by Knox and others (the six Johns). There followed a period of further dispute when Mary Queen of Scots returned from France in 1561 when she tried to revert Scotland to Catholicism. However, in the aftermath of the murders of her Secretary, David Rizzio; her second husband the Earl of Darnley and her marriage to the Earl of Bothwell, she was forced to abdicate on 24 July 1567. Mary went into exile in England for nineteen years where she finally went to the block and the headsman`s axe.

Record price for historical deed

One of Scotland's rarest historical documents has been sold for a record price at auction.

The National Covenant, which is one of just 12 in existence, sold for £32,137 - well over its estimated value of £5,000 to £8,000.

It dates from 1638 and is signed by some of the country's most influential noblemen of the time.

A first edition of Charles Darwin's The Origin Of Species also sold at the Lyon and Turnbull auction for £15,625.

The Scottish National Covenant of 1638 was the result of various attempts by the Stuart monarchy to unify religious worship throughout England and Scotland.

In 1637 King Charles I and Archbishop Laud endeavoured to impose an English liturgy, a move that the Scots saw as an attempt to reintroduce popery.

'Hugely important'

The spontaneous objection during that first church service developed into organised opposition unified around the text of the National Covenant.

The 1638 document incorporated the Scottish Confession of Faith of 1581 and the Acts of the Scottish Parliament that had established the Calvinist religion and the liberty of the Kirk.

The original document was neatly written and signed by a large gathering on February 28, 1638, in Greyfriar's Kirkyard, Edinburgh.

The leading Covenanters - Rothes, Montrose, Eglinton, Cassillis, and others - then created duplicate copies to be dispatched into every shire, presbytery and parish of Scotland for signature.
The first edition of Charles Darwin's The Origin Of Species sold for £15,625

The copy sold today is the Covenant of Renfrewshire and is signed by more than 100 Covenanters including the Earls of Montrose, Cassillis, Eglinton, Wemyss, Rothes, Lindsay, Lothian and Lord Balmerino.

Its new owner, who lives in the US and wants to remain anonymous, said: "It is a hugely important historical document and my main interest in it lies from me having studied for my PhD in Church History at St Andrews University in Fife.

"I am looking forward to studying the document in more detail. It will remain in Scotland for the time being in the care of my son who lives in the country."

Great Scot! I sank the Bismarck

'I sank the Bismarck but only found out 59 years later': British pilot learns of his place in history

By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 10:04 AM on 10th June 2009

Every war veteran has a story to tell. But few could rival John Moffat's extraordinary tale.

Now 89, Mr Moffat had a ringside seat to the sinking of the Bismarck, one of the most dramatic sea battles of the Second World War.

But it was relatively recently that the pilot, who gave up flying only last year, found out just how pivotal his role was.

It was the torpedo he fired that crippled the rudder of the German battleship, leaving it at the mercy of Royal Navy ships which then sank it in the Atlantic off the west coast of France on May 27, 1941.

He was piloting one of three Swordfish open-cockpit biplanes that set off from the aircraft carrier Ark Royal to take vengeance on the Bismarck, which days before had destroyed the British warship Hood with the loss of 1,416 lives.

'What nobody talks about were the conditions - they were unbelievable,' recalled Mr Moffat, who has written a book, I Sank The Bismarck, about his experiences.

The German battleship Bismarck was named after the 19th century German chancellor Otto von Bismarck. At 50,000 ton fully loaded, it was the largest warship then commissioned

Formidable: The Bismarck only took part in one operation during her brief career, when she helped sink HMS Hood in the Denmark Strait

'And nobody mentions the deck hands who had to bring the planes up from the hangars - they did something special. After they brought them up they had to open
the wings which took ten men for each wing. And then they had to wind a handle to get the starters working.

'I only stopped flying nine months ago and there are no other planes in the world that could have done what the Swordfish planes did that day.

'After take-off we climbed to 6,000 feet to get above the really thick cloud and we knew when we were near because all hell broke loose with Bismarck's fire. We got the order to attack and I went down and saw the enormous bloody ship. I thought the Ark Royal was big, but this one, blimey.

Revenge: The attack was ordered by Churchill after the Bismarck sank HMS Hood,

Amazing tale: John Moffat

'I must have been under 2,000 yards when I was about to launch the torpedo at the bow, but as I was about to press the button I heard in my ear "not now, not now".

'I turned round and saw the navigator leaning right out of the plane with his backside in the air. Then I realised what he was doing - he was looking at the sea because if I had let the torpedo go and it had hit a wave it could have gone anywhere. I had to put it in a trough.

'Then I heard him say "let it go" and I pressed the button. Then I heard him say "we've got a runner" - and I got out of there.

'My navigator was a chap called John "Dusty" Miller and I've spent the last 20 years trying to find out what happened to him or where he is.'

Mr Moffat pulled up before the torpedo hit and didn't see it strike. The following morning he flew to the ship for a second attack but there was no need.

He watched as the Bismarck, which had been under siege from the Royal Navy, rolled over. And he saw hundreds of German sailors leaping into the water as she started to sink. Only 115 of Bismarck's crew of 2,222 survived.

'I didn't dare look any further, I just got back to the Ark Royal and I thought: "There but for the grace of God go I",' said Mr Moffat, who now lives in Dunkeld, Scotland.

He only found out it was his torpedo that crippled the Bismarck when the Fleet Air Arm - the Navy's air force - wrote to him in 2000. He said: 'It gave me a sort of satisfaction.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Pressures of instant fame

Broadway stars have advice for Susan Boyle
‘Just work hard and believe in yourself,’ says Constantine Maroulis

Access Hollywood
updated 1 hour, 44 minutes ago

Susan Boyle has already wowed Britain — along with the entire world via YouTube — but is the “Britain’s Got Talent” sensation ready for Broadway? Many of the 2009 Tony Awards attendees told Access Hollywood they’d love to see Boyle on the Great White Way.

“Oh, she’s fantastic,” Dolly Parton told Access on Sunday night at Radio City Music Hall in New York. “She’d be great on Broadway. I want to meet her too.”

Broadway legend Liza Minnelli agreed, but warned of the possible pitfalls that can come with fame.

“Why not? I think she would be wonderful!” Minnelli exclaimed, “If she could stand the pressure. You know.”

Allison Janney, who stars in the Tony-nominated “9 to 5,” said Boyle will shine once the media firestorm surrounding her calms.

“She just needs to get all the heat off her from this craziness and settle down and get into her life again,” Janney told Access. “Take advantage of her, you know, newfound fame and do a musical or do things she never thought she’d be able to do. I’m happy for her.”

Constantine Maroulis, who nabbed a Tony nomination for “Rock of Ages,” advised Boyle to stay determined and to never forget who she is.

“Just work hard and believe in yourself. Not to sound too corny. She seems like a nice woman. And the right part for the right person,” Maroulis explained. “You never know. Things can work out.”

As for actress Gina Gershon, she told Access she’d imagined Boyle on a Broadway stage since the second she first laid eyes on her.

“When I saw her tape, the first thing I thought was put her on Broadway,” Gershon said, adding, “She just seems like she would have a blast and she seems to have the right voice and the right attitude for it. I would go see her!”

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Glowing tartan for common riding

A tailored coat and a coat and a waistcoat have been made with the tartan

A glow-in-the-dark tartan has been designed to celebrate a Scottish Borders "homecoming" event, which is to include common ridings and festivals.

The fabric, designed by a student at Heriot-Watt University and woven by Robert Noble, incorporates a reflective yarn to increase night-time safety.

During the Return to the Ridings event, 11 towns in the area will co-ordinate a series of annual ancient celebrations.

Some equestrian events will take place in the evening.

All eleven towns participating in the event were represented in the tartan with the inclusion of their colours in the tartan over-checks. Green was the main colour used to symbolise the Borders countryside.
Retroreflective yarn was twisted with wool and woven into the tartan

Robert Noble, a textile manufacturer based in Peebles, twisted Retroreflective yarn with wool and wove it into the tartan.

Alistair McDade, of Robert Noble, said: "As far as I know the use of a reflective yarn in tartan is a new concept, but it is these new ideas which help keep the Scottish Borders at the forefront of the textiles industry."

Emma Arthur-Daniels, who designed the tartan, said: "I think the final product holds true to the values of the Scottish Borders common ridings and festivals, while incorporating the new concept of weaving modern yarns into this type of fabric."

There are currently no plans to put the tartan into full production.

However, Return to the Ridings organisers said they would monitor demand and if sufficient, would consider commercial production.

Return to the Ridings is part of the Homecoming Scotland 2009 programme, which celebrates the 250th anniversary of Robert Burns' birth.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Suan Boyle signs with U2 guru Ossie Kilkenny

EXCLUSIVE by Thomas Smith 6/06/2009

Man who guided Irish rock legends to riches to mastermind Britain's Got Talent star's career

Susan Boyle has signed the financial wizard who turned U2 into multi-millionaires as her manager.

Britain’s Got Talent runner-up Susan and her family have appointed legendary showbiz accountant Ossie Kilkenny to mastermind her career and capitalise on her massive fame.

The deal means that BGT guru Simon Cowell’s Syco record label will release Susan’s hotly-awaited debut album.

But it is music industry veteran Ossie, 62, who will actually manage her and organise her finances to ensure that every deal she signs is as lucrative as possible.

Angel-voiced Susan, 48, and her family held a summit last month with Ossie, who flew from his Dublin base to meet Susan’s family in Blackburn, the tiny West Lothian village where she lives in a council house with her cat Pebbles. The meeting was organised by London entertainment and media lawyer Kirsty Foy – who is Susan’s niece.

Kirsty, 40, approached Ossie – who has also worked with acts including Tina Turner, The Verve, Bryan Adams and Van Morrison – to get independent career advice for Susan.

On Friday Susan met with bosses at Syco, an off-shoot of Sony, accompanied by one of Ossie’s representatives. A well-placed source said: “Susan wants to work with Simon but she and her family have also chosen to bring in Ossie Kilkenny as manager. So the record will be with Simon’s label, but Ossie will look after her management.”

Yesterday, a beaming Susan flew home to Scotland for the first time since last Saturday’s shock result, which saw Susan beaten by dance troupe Diversity.

She waved to fans at Edinburgh Airport, then was driven home for an emotional reunion with Pebbles.

It was all a far cry from last Sunday when Susan, who has minor learning difficulties, was admitted to London’s Priory Hospital suffering from nervous exhaustion.

She left the clinic on Thursday and is now much happier and relaxed.

She is now expected to take part in the BGT tour, which begins on Friday, and will soon enter the recording studio to start her album.

British pony 'rarer than giant panda'

A British farm is celebrating the birth of a pony whose breed is rarer than the giant panda.

By Daily Telegraph Reporter
Published: 4:20PM BST 29 Mar 2009
The rare Eriskay pony is native to the Scottish island of Eriskay. Photo: GETTY

He may be only four days old, but the little Eriskay Pony is full of energy as he gambles about in the field with his mother, called Winnie.

At only three feet tall, nine hands, the little brown foal may seem fragile but farm workers say the boisterous newborn runs circles around his mother.

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Visitors have flocked to Cholderton Rare Breeds Farm, near Salisbury, Wilts, to see the special new arrival, the first of the year.

The little foal has yet to be named but the farm will launch a 'naming' competition next month.

Farm manager John Rogers said the little foal also very popular with farm workers, who have been eagerly anticipating his birth.

He said: "He's a very welcome addition to the farm, a good little lad.

"Everyone has fallen in love with him and I'm sure they'd all like to take him home - without realising he wont be a cute little foal forever."

Mr Rogers said the newborn was in perfect health and was pleased with how well the little foal had adapted to farm life.

He said: "He's a right little hooligan, he's got plenty of energy in him for such a young thing.

"He's got enough strength to give you a good nudge - probably even knock you over."

It is thought the foal will be weened from his mother in around a month, when he will be separated from her but kept on the farm.

The farm set up its breeding programme for the rare Eriskay pony six years ago.

The newborn foal is the latest of three foals to be born to seven-year-old Winnie, brought in from a farm in Scotland.

Winnie's first and second born, named Summer, three, and Solstice, two, still live on the farm.

The rare Eriskay pony, native to the Scottish island of Eriskay, is an ancient breed with Celtic and Norse connections.

The population thrived until the beginning of the 19th century when numbers went into decline.

It is thought the expansion of agriculture, where larger breeds were favoured over the smaller Eriskay, is responsible for the drop in numbers.

The depleted population, around 300 of the Eriskay pony remain in Britain, prompted the Rare Breeds Survival Trust to list the breed as 'critical'.

It is estimated that there are 2,000 to 3,000 giant pandas in the wild.

Eriskay pony at the Royal Highland Show 2005

More Clydes to Please the Eye

Clydesdales at the Royal Highland Show

The Clydesdale is a breed of draft horse derived from the farm horses of Clydesdale, Scotland, and named after that region. Thought to be over 300 years old, the breed was extensively used for pulling heavy loads in rural, industrial and urban settings, their common use extending into the 1960s when they were still a familiar sight pulling the carts of milk and vegetable vendors.

They have been exported in the Commonwealth and United States where they are famous for their use as the mascot of various beer brands, including Anheuser-Busch's Budweiser brand, Carlton & United Beverages and several others.

At one time there were at least 140,000 Clydesdales known in Scotland; by 1949 just 80 animals were licensed in England and by 1975 the Rare Breed Survival Trust had listed the breed as "vulnerable". Clydesdales have since seen resurgence in popularity and population, resulting in the breed's status being reclassified favorably as "at risk" with an estimated global population of just 5,000 individuals. Clydesdales are now most numerous in the United States where recently over 600 foals are reportedly born each year.

Today, the Clydesdale's most significant presence is in exhibition and parades.

Highland Show to have royal visit

The Queen was last at the Royal Highland Show 25 years ago

The Queen is to officially visit the UK's largest agricultural show for the first time since 1984.

As patron of the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland (RHASS), she will visit The Royal Highland Show on Thursday, 24 June.

She is due to be accompanied by her daughter Princess Anne to mark the 225th anniversary of the event.

Princess Alexandra is also due to attend the Ingliston Show, which runs until Sunday 28 June.

The Queen was last at the show when it celebrated its 200th anniversary.

Ray Jones, RHASS chief executive, said: "We are delighted to welcome The Queen as our Patron in our 225th year and our other Royal visitors.

"The Royal family have been strong supporters of the society and its activities over the years and we look forward to pointing out some of the show highlights."

The Queen's father King George VI bestowed the title "Royal" on the show at the Inverness event in 1948, in the days when the event moved around Scotland each year before settling at its current home in 1960.

I spent two days at the Royal Highland Show in 2005. I would love to be there this year. What a wonderful event this is. I feel very lucky I could take in the show.The Royal Highland Show is the greatest gathering of all that is good about Scotland. It’s one of the featured events during Homecoming Scotland and is expected to attract 160,000 people over four days. The show is at the Royal Highland Showground, Ingliston from Thursday 25th June until Sunday 28th June.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Susan Boyle Released From Mental Health Clinic

Susan Boyle Given Clean Bill of Mental Health

Today 6:40 AM PDT by Gina Serpe

Britain's Got Talent runner-up Susan Boyle has checked out of London's Priory clinic, where she spent five days being treated for exhaustion and an anxiety attack in the wake of the reality-show loss heard round the world.

The 48-year-old belter has since moved in to her brother's central London pad.

"She's much happier," Gerry Boyle told Britain's GMTV morning show of his superstar sister. "She seems a lot more like herself."

He added that her second-place finish "wasn't the end" of her already stratospheric career—as if there was any doubt.

"Things are becoming clearer for her now. She's now beginning to believe that, 'Yes, indeed, I will be a singer.' "

Whether she'll be a singer associated with Britain's Got Talent, however, is still in the air.

Producers have yet to confirm if Boyle is up for joining the show's finalists in the traditional postshow national tour. The performers are set to begin rehearsals in London on Tuesday.

"At this stage we're not saying anything," a spokeswoman for Boyle told the BBC. "Susan is still recovering and we ask to respect her privacy."

The Britain's Got Talent tour kicks off in Birmingham June 12.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

17th century urine-filled 'witch bottle' found

Discovery provides a unique insight into witchcraft beliefs of that period Human urine, pins and nails are seen in a CT scan of a 17th century "witch bottle" found buried upside-down in Greenwich.

By Jennifer Viegas

updated 2 hours, 37 minutes ago

During the 17th century in England, someone urinated in a jar, added nail clippings, hair and pins, and buried it upside-down in Greenwich, where it was recently unearthed and identified by scientists as being the world's most complete known "witch bottle."

This spell device, often meant to attract and trap negative energy, was particularly common from the 16th to the 17th centuries, so the discovery provides a unique insight into witchcraft beliefs of that period, according to a report published in the latest British Archaeology.

Lead researcher Alan Massey, a former chemist and honorary fellow of Loughborough University, believes "the objects found in witch bottles verify the authenticity of contemporary recipes given for anti-witchcraft devices, which might otherwise have been dismissed by us as being too ridiculous and outrageous to believe."

An Old Bailey court record from 1682 documents that a husband, believing his wife to be afflicted by witchcraft, was advised by a Spitalfields apothecary to "take a quart of your Wive's urine, the paring of her Nails, some of her Hair, and such like, and boyl them well in a Pipkin."

The excavated bottle appears to have been made according to those, or similar, instructions.

CT scans and chemical analysis, along with gas chromatography conducted by Richard Cole of the Leicester Royal Infirmary, reveal the contents of the bottle to include human urine, brimstone, 12 iron nails, eight brass pins, hair, possible navel fluff, a piece of heart-shaped leather pierced by a bent nail, and 10 fingernail clippings.

Although some 200 early witch bottles have been identified, all were found opened, with their contents likely eroded or otherwise lost. This artifact, in contrast, had its cork closure still intact.

The urine contained nicotine, so a smoker produced it. Since the fingernails showed little wear, Massey believes the individual was "of some social standing."

Brimstone, the ancient name for sulfur, is associated with passages in several religious texts, including the Bible. In the Book of Revelations, for example, "false prophets" were cast into a volcano-like lake "burning with brimstone."

In terms of the heart object, Massey said other witch bottles were found to contain "a cloth heart pierced by brass pins," but "this is the first example where a nail was used for this function." The meaning remains unclear.

The bottle itself is actually a salt-glazed jar made in the Netherlands or Germany and stamped with the face of Cardinal Roberto Bellarmino (1542-1621), who played an important role in the Catholic Reformation.

Massey believes witch bottles "emphasize just how frightened people were of the 'black arts' — the early settlers even took their superstitions to the New World with them as excavated witch bottles demonstrate."

The general time period of the bottle coincides with the Salem Witch Trials, which happened in late 1600's America.

Archaeologist Mike Pitts, the editor of British Archaeology, told Discovery News, "The discovery of something so apparently bizarre, indicating a clear belief in witchcraft and forces that have nothing at all to do with conventional, approved religion, remind us that early modern England did not belong to the same world we now inhabit."

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Boyle on the Mend

LONDON – Susan Boyle is getting better after an anxiety attack caused by the pressures of her overnight fame, and celebrity judge Simon Cowell plans to help her launch a professional career, Cowell's spokesman said Tuesday. The Scottish songbird who finished second in the Britain's Got Talent competition landed in a London hospital Sunday night after suffering what one of her brothers described as severe anxiety. Show judge Amanda Holden said Boyle does not have any underlying mental problems.

The Associated Press

The Weigela Bushes are in Full Bloom!

Weigela is a small deciduous shrub that grows best in a sunny location with moist soil. The flowers are long and are trumpet-shaped. In fact, they are a part of the Honeysuckle family! This plant is considered mostly allergy free and causes little or no allergy problems in most people. There are about 10 species of East Asian flowering shrubs belonging to the family Diervillaceae, some widely grown as ornamentals for their spring and summer flowers. The tubular, white to red blossoms are borne on upright shrubs to 4 metres (13 feet) tall.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Susan Boyle hasn't a hope in hell of a normal life back home, friends warn

Published Date: 02 June 2009
SUSAN Boyle has "no hope in hell" of finding peace in her home town, as the ongoing media clamour over her welfare and future shows no sign of abating, friends warned yesterday.

Having been catapulted from anonymity to worldwide fame in less than two months, the 48-year-old was admitted to a London clinic on Sunday evening, suffering from exhaustion.

The singer, who is expected to recuperate in the Priory for several days, received a
message of support yesterday from Prime Minister Gordon Brown, two days after finishing runner-up in the Britain's Got Talent television show.

Neighbours in Blackburn, West Lothian, have appealed to her to return home to receive support. However, there are fears the remarkable international media attention paid to the singer since her first appearance on the programme on 11 April will only increase.

Jackie Russell, manager of Ms Boyle's local pub, the Happy Valley Hotel, told The Scotsman that the show's production company, Talkback Thames, did not properly anticipate the worldwide reaction to Ms Boyle.

"She is just an ordinary girl from an ex-mining village who could walk down the street a few months ago quite happily," Ms Russell said. "Now, she can't even come home. Everyone in Blackburn is exhausted with the media attention, and the press always know where she'll be, and who she's with. There's not a hope in hell she'd get peace here.

"The media has reported she had a meltdown because she didn't win, but not winning had nothing to do with it. She's a very gracious lady and wouldn't take losing to heart."

The Prime Minister told GMTV yesterday he had sought reassurances from the show's judges that Ms Boyle was well.

Ms Boyle's brother, Gerry, said his sister remains happy and just needs to "get her head around" celebrity; but Fred O'Neil, her friend and former voice coach, called her plight "a tragedy", claiming fame had not brought her happiness.

He said: "It's such a tragic situation, a woman who really just loves to sing, an innocent woman really, who is just caught up in this fame game."

Publicist Max Clifford agreed that, no matter the result of Saturday night's final, Ms Boyle would have struggled to cope with her sudden rise to fame.

Stressing the need for her to be surrounded by friends and family, he said: "What they've got to do is assess how she is before knowing what's best to do."

Piers Morgan, one of the show's judges, said Ms Boyle's admission to the clinic was "not a very serious matter", and predicted she would be recording the year's biggest-selling album in a few months.

"I don't think she wants to go back to Scotland and disappear again," he added.

Plans are well advanced for Ms Boyle to play a US tour, before recording an album with the Czech National Symphony Orchestra. She is also due to join the Britain's Got Talent arena tour, which begins on 12 June.

Opportunity still knocks for the unexpected star to win through

THERE is a lot of stress for contestants in such shows, writes Cynthia McVey.

There is the stress of trying to produce the best performance they can, and for Susan Boyle there was also the stress created by the assumption that she was going to win.

When she entered the show she probably thought she would have been lucky to get through – then suddenly everything changed because of the attention from America.

I don't think you can really blame the show's producers, because it is just the nature of these competitions.

I assume they would have had some sort of psychological testing to make sure the people taking part were not too vulnerable and would not be affected too badly by the stress of the contest.

It has been reported that Susan Boyle has some learning difficulties, but I don't believe that, just because a person has learning difficulties, they should not be allowed to take part in competitions on television.

At the moment Susan Boyle might be feeling rejected by the public, but with the right sort of support she should still be able to enjoy the fruits of her talents.

• Cynthia McVey is head of psychology at Glasgow Caledonian University and an adviser to television producers.

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