the-british-isles

So like

if I make an Old Tongue, a language spoken by the Alamarri before Andraste, and still spoken as a co-first language by many groups across Ferelden but especially by those who follow the Old Faith, should I make it Germanic based or Celtic based? 

Germanic pros: It fits with something I’ve already been kind of doing, often having Loghain use Germanic words, and Fiona use Latinate or French words when there are two options, 

Germanic cons: Ferelden seems to be the British Isles if it were never fully conquered by any people, so it’d make more sense for Celtic languages to remain as the Old Tongue, 

Celtic pros: Loghain Mac Tir, who’d be the main speaker of the few words from it we learn, is far more pan-Celtic than Anglo-Saxon, his dad’s name is canonically Garreth, which is Welsh, his surname apparently means wolf in Irish, Loghain is clearly a form of the Scottish Logan, 

Celtic cons: It’d be a lot harder because Celtic words didn’t really survive as much as Germanic words in English. Also, unfortunately, digging for Celtic stuff, and, unrelatedly Nordic stuff, tends to turn up A LOT of Neo Nazis. 

Imperfect pages

Bodleian reader Sarah Gilbert happened upon some interesting, imperfect pages when examining a manuscript at the Bodleian Libraries. We asked her to write about the experience.

In the medieval period in Western Europe, books were copied by hand onto specially prepared animal skins. The animals used for this purpose in the British Isles were sheep and cows, and in order to turn their pelts into pages these animals would be killed, their blood would be drained, they would be skinned, and then these skins would be soaked and stretched, scraped and dried, and polished and trimmed to make them into usable pages.

Jesus College MS 37, a copy of Iohannus Diaconus’ Vita Sancti Gregorii, is a manuscript with some very unusual pages. A few of its folios preserve faint traces of their animal past in the form of stained blood vessels.

Such stained vessels are very rare - transparent vein structures can sometimes be seen on a manuscript page like contour lines on a map, but to see the vessels still outlined in blood is much more unusual, and is possibly the result of the animals being bled too slowly after they had been killed.

Making parchment was a skilled job and sometimes imperfect pages were used in medieval books simply because the skins, however flawed, were too precious to waste.

As I was reading Jesus College 37 I was very excited to see such an unusual manuscript phenomenon “in the flesh.”

- Sarah Gilbert, Bodleian reader.

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The Queen Regnant’s of The British Isles, Crowned and Uncrowned

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Minoritized languages moodboard: Manx or Manx Gaelic

Manx (Gaelg or Gailck) is a Celtic language spoken in the Isle of Man. The last native speaker of Manx died in 1974, but the language has been revived and more than 1,800 people claim to speak, read and write Manx today.

For @zimsbitty

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These Islands - A Portrait of the British Isles 

These Islands published by Cereal takes the reader on a journey across the landscape, both natural and urban, that forms the British Isles, through powerful imagery, prose and poetry.

Explore the peaks of Snowdonia, the shadows of Glen Coe, the rural idylls of the Lake District, and the windswept paths of the Wild Atlantic Way. Walk the historic streets of London, trace the elegant curves of Bath, and climb the gothic spires of Edinburgh. Cross to the Isle of Skye in the north, and sail to the Isles of Scilly in the south.

flickr

Blaydon Cemetery, England. by Dave The Drum.

Realtalk though, even if Sirius hadn’t taken the fall for the Potters’ deaths, I doubt he would have been given the opportunity to raise Harry. To suggest that he would have requires that we ignore that:

  • Albus Dumbledore was essentially a law unto himself within the wizarding world at the time - for all that he tried to avoid appearing, even to himself, to be seeking power, Dumbledore was one of the most significant political figures in Wizarding Britain and, indeed, Wizarding Europe at the time. In addition to controlling the education of the vast majority of wizards and witches in the British Isles for nearly half a century, he also holds leadership positions in both the Wizengamot and the International Confederation of Wizards for Harry’s entire childhood. It took turning the Minister for Magic against him to even start to erode his power base, and even then, there was a significant majority [edit, because I can’t type apparently:] minority both within the Ministry and in the general populace that remained loyal to Albus Dumbledore over Fudge and his administration. Although it’s most explicitly tied to Slytherin ideals of ambition, there’s an almost feudal factionalism that’s present throughout wizarding British society, and no one seems to have questioned Dumbledore’s right to sponsor an organization like the Order of the Phoenix until he fell thoroughly out of favor with the Ministry. In the aftermath of Voldemort’s first fall, it probably would have been political and social suicide for anyone to question Albus Dumbledore’s right to make choices as to the upbringing of the orphaned child of two of his proteges.
  • Petunia’s status as Harry’s closest blood relative was magically significant, but probably not legally significant - if Dumbledore hadn’t unilaterally decided who got to raise Harry, can you really see any British Wizarding authority favoring the muggle relatives of a wizarding child born into a wizarding family in a custody case? Especially muggle relatives that didn’t want the kid in the first place? Harry was sent to the Dursleys entirely because of the protective blood magic that Lily worked with her death, and Dumbledore clearly overrode whatever the usual process of finding a guardian would have been in order to ensure Harry got that protection. This wasn’t a compromise or a backup plan for if another guardian wasn’t available. If Dumbledore had wished Harry to be raised within the wizarding world, he would have had no trouble finding a guardian that suited his needs. James was a pureblood; Harry is probably related within a few generations to a third of wizarding Britain. For that matter, if he hadn’t had reason to give Harry to someone else, it would have been very much Dumbledore’s style to decide to raise him himself.
  • Dumbledore doesn’t actually seem to like Sirius - he never goes so far as to badmouth the man to Harry, probably because shittalking Sirius would run contrary to his carefully cultivated image of being Wise and Fair and Above Such Pettiness. But Dumbledore seems to be frequently irritated with Sirius and clearly has little concern for his physical or emotional wellbeing, even when they’re nominally allies. Dumbledore couldn’t be bothered to find Sirius accommodations less actively traumatic than Grimmauld Place when Sirius was almost entirely dependent on Dumbledore and the rest of the Order. Would he have honored Sirius’s claim as Harry’s godfather, without really significant outside pressure? Would Sirius have been able to get backup from anyone Dumbledore would actually have listened to? Who’s going to win that battle - a probably-unemployed 21-year-old who has explosively burned bridges with his wealthy and influential family, or the man who is essentially the uncrowned king of magical Britain?

I propose instead: Sirius fails to get custody of Harry, who is sent off to his aunt and uncle as per canon. Sirius then proceeds to do an end-run around Dumbledore, instead focusing his not-inconsiderable charisma on getting into Arabella Figg’s good graces and, from there, insinuating himself into the Dursleys’ social circles. Probably this involves some intensive cramming to catch up on years of muggle studies he may or may not have actually taken but almost certainly didn’t pay attention to at Hogwarts. Depending on how much attention Petunia paid to Lily’s social life, Sirius may need to avoid her and interact only with Vernon; I have little doubt Sirius could pull this off, nor do I think Vernon would necessarily find this suspicious.

Harry grows up with occasional but reliable contact with an adult who tells him he’s neither crazy nor at fault when he starts having magical outbursts, takes an interest in his life, and also sometimes turns into a fluffy doggy when none of the other grown-ups are looking.

Vernon Dursley is utterly outraged when Mr. Black, who up to ‘till now has always seemed perfectly respectable and urbane, intercepts the third owl that tries to bring Harry his acceptance letter and hand delivers it to the kid, who is not actually surprised because Sirius has been teaching him about wizarding culture on the sly since he was like seven.