Ye Olde Linoleum Shoppe

Tuesday 30 October 2012


The 14th of August 1606 is a date which lives in a dark corner of the Irish cultural pschye. On said occasion, a Bermuda Chapter of the Salvation Army Marching Band invaded County Clare wielding tubas, cymbals and a particularly alarming assemblage of French horns. They murdered all tunes before them until they came to the town of Ennis and laid siege to it's sturdy walls. In an extraordinary turn of events the town held fast behind the stalwart tin whistles of three milkmaids (playing 'The Kiltimagh Jig') until reinforcements, (in the form of Dicky Rock and the Chieftains,) leapt out from behind a barrel of lard and sent the Sally bastardos packing.
What any of that has to do with archaeology beats the pants off me but I thought it as good a way as any to introduce my reworked version of a rare ould tune. This nouvelle chanson is a savvy archaeological reworking of the Celtic ballad 'Dan O'Hara.' 
For those of you not steeped in the melody of this particular Gaelic folk tune please listen to no less a minstrel than Mr. Rory Gallagher playing it HERE.
(Poor old Rory, I really think he could have been a success if only he had cut his hair and worn a nice suit - and a spot of Mum deodorant wouldn't have harmed either.)
Ignore that. It's not pertinent.
Now with Rory's tub-thumping melody ringing in yer bonce, get yer backside off that seat, stamp yer shanks, clap yer mitts and sing the fine words below with devotion - Be ye Briton, be ye Bantu, be ye Yankee Doodle Dandy I care not a bent Irish tuppence, let us stand shoulder to shoulder and intone ensemble so that Christendom might hear our mighty anthem ring out across the ages.

But before beginning I think it judicious to explain that the words 'Achusla geal machree' are pronounced 'A-cush-lah gal muh-kree' and translate loosely as: 'folk music gives me a pain in the tit.'


Come listen to my gig,
I am the man who digs,
I do it with esteem and great composure.
I sift the gentle soil
With cautious gentle toil
But mostly I just use a big bulldozer.

Achusla geal machree,
I'm in archaeology,
It once made me fat around the middle.
Qualified? That's me!
Don't I have a Pee-haych-dee!!
But now I'm stacking shelves in f**king Lidl.

In the year of zero four
The Celtic Tiger it did roar,
My vocation felt like it was fuelled with pro-pane
I wiped my bum with loot,
Wore Juicy Couture tracksuits,
And breakfasted on truffles, gin and co-caine.

Achusla geal machree,
I'm in archaeology,
It once made me fat around the middle.
Qualified? That's me!
Don't I have a Pee-haych-dee!!
But now I'm stacking shelves in f**king Lidl.

I used to make big dough,

But little did I know,
I had bought myself a seat on the Ti-tanic.
Then a recession-based iceberg
Saw my career submerged
Jaysus, I'm a total arse-mechanic.

Achusla geal machree,
I'm in archaeology,
It once made me fat around the middle.
Qualified? That's me!
Don't I have a Pee-haych-dee!!
But now I'm stacking shelves in f**king Lidl.

So take warning from my tune
Don't be a fruity loon,
Don't saddle your career upon a trow-el,
Or you'll end up just like me
In the retail industry
Arranging shelves of sanitary tow-els.

Achusla geal machree,
I'm in archaeology,
It once made me fat around the middle.
Qualified? That's me!
Don't I have a Pee-haych-dee!!
But now I'm stacking shelves in f**king Lidl.


Have a KICK-ASS Halloween!! Light a big bonfire, eat apples and nuts to excess and don't be afraid to say boo to goose.

And to finish:

Tuesday 16 October 2012


Hello Hedgehogs! More CPD perhaps? And a biscuit too?

1. The term 'Iron Age' was coined by Hesiod specifically for use on his 601 B.C. poem 'Sewerage.'

The tonnage
Of drainage
In the cleavage
Of Carthage
Has been a hemorrhage
Of mucilage
Since the Ironage

The poem never made it to the publishers because Hesiod became a victim of pilferage by one of Asia Minor's infamous poetry muggers. It was then sold on to a criminal ring specializing in madrigals and eventually fell into the hands of Homer who instantly recognised it's exquisite georgic stylings and burnt it for the insurance (which he had arranged with a brokerage.)

2. The Bronze Age?
Sorry . . . the Bronze Age?
r u kidding me!
It's just SOOOOOO last year. I wouldn't be caught dead in the Bronze Age.
But IRON! IRON is to to DIE for! Iron is like last years black. Super-dressy. It's all sold out in Harvey Nicks. I was there last night trying to buy a few ingots and they were like 'No way darling, all gone.' And I was like, 'But how am I going to forge a decent gladius hispana darling? I mean what am I going to dooooo?' And they were like, 'Not my problem darling, speak to the hand.'
I can't tell you how furious I was . . . 'HELLLOOO!' I said,' I want to see the manager darling!' I said - and I said I'd like wait for him in the cocktail bar.
By the time he arrived I was completely pissed. Gave him a big kiss, told him he was a darling.
Then I went home with the waiter.

3. The tomato was first introduced into Iron Age Europe by King Lurg Mac Babahdbahb. In the modern era we use the simple plural 'Tomatoes' but when they first appeared on the toasted sandwiches of Celtic warlords it came in multiple plural forms (id est) twomatoes, threematoes, fourmatoes (&c. &c.) The multiple plural has largely disappeared from Indo-European language but not without leaving some confusing residual terminology behind - October (obviously enough) should be Tentober and by the same token, (but now in reverse) tentacles should be obstacles (which explains why certain marine cephalopods are all over the shop.)

4. So the other night I'm having a quiet one in and me old china Niall Colfer phones up. And the conversation goes like this:
Niall- I've just discovered something. . . Something remarkable. It happened while I was in the saddle last night. . .
The Author- I never had you down as an equestrian sort old boy. . .
Niall- No not THAT sort of saddle, anyway - there I was, grinding away as hard I could manage. . .
The Author- Sir I am scandalised! Futhermore, I fear this conversation has taken a turn into unspeakable dominions.
Niall- Ehh, yeah. So I'm grinding away, my knees are killing me, and next thing I'm spilling my precious seed everywhere.
The Author- Egad! Stay your tongue! May the good Lord smite your befreckled countenance with brimstone!
Niall- Then it hits me! I realise if I used a smaller rubber I wouldn't be losing my seed down between the floorboards. See, I had been using this enormous rubber that was totally unsuitable.
The Author- Gadzooks I'll see you before the assizes! Your days of loutish muck-mouthing are at an end sir!
Niall- Yes it's all down to the size of rubbing stone you see . . .
The Author - Rubbing stone? Oh I see!! It's that sort of rubber . . . so the seed is obviously einkorn wheat and you were doing a bit of experimental grinding on a saddle quern.
Niall- Precisely so. Why, what did you think I was talking about?
The Author- Contraception.
Niall- Dreadful film. Possibly Christopher Nolan's worst.

5. How do Jacobs get the figs into the fig rolls?

6. Only Smarties have the answer.

7. If you don't have enough vitamin C in your diet you won't be able to absorb iron properly. That fact seems to have strayed from a health food blog but I would like to extend the warm hand of friendship and make it feel welcome. I'm not judgmental. Not  a bit. I'll fill my blog with any old shite.

8. The Iron Age saw the invention of iron nails which Irish natives, in fear of invading Celtic charioteers, drove through planks of kiln dried wood and sprinkled liberally across Ireland as a sort of a poor-man's chevaux de frise. Traces of this defensive feature can still be found on building sites throughout Ireland's green bower, especially those now owned by the Irish State which now function, (in an inventive secondary role,) as a playground for toddlers.

9. I always find this end of the year a real strain, thank God there's only three colander months left . . . (ba-dum-tish.)

10. Usually, during our little CPD sessions, I add a link to a musical video and waffle on about how the recession is almost over. Well tough shit everyone, it's not going to end, therefore, to play us out of today's blog may I PRESENT:

That's right, Muppets begging for scraps - and as a jobbing field archaeologist I know how they feel.

Why do we have to do this?
I guess we'll never know.
It's like a kind of torture
To have to watch this show.

Tuesday 2 October 2012


SITE PHOTOGRAPHY (with an aside salad about the 'Observer Effect.')

We, my brothers and sisters, are truly inhabiting a golden age of archaeological photography, digital formats and bigger lenses are now revealing heritage features heretofore invisible to the naked eye - take for example the Twin Barrows of Middleton - nobody ever dared to believe they would cop eyes on that fabled twosome, but photographic innovation, patience and depravity paid off in abundance. We will all sleep a little more soundly knowing those protected monuments are 100% bona fide (unlike for instance, the Double Hummocks of Davison - clever fakes if ever I saw them.)
Yes, the digital camera has revolutionised archaeological photography. Archaeologists are now free to take more blurry photos of meaningless crap than ever before. Truly these are halcyon days - but let us not throw out the bath-tub with the baby, let us not forget the old ways (the ways of the tinsmith and the alpenhorn) - dated technology still has much to offer us and, as an example of this, let us consider photo-booths when recording the detritus of past societies. 
Fig.1: The Humble Photobooth
The photo-booth method of site photography is reasonably straightforward, once a feature is excavated, cleaned and ready to be photographed (let us say a mid 13th century AD wattle fence perhaps?), the entire structure and the filth on which it resides is shoveled bodily into a bevy of wheelbarrows and transported to the nearest train station or supermarket (wherever the nearest booth is.) The agglomeration of mire is then thrun into the booth, coins slotted and 'bingo' you get four passport sized photos of the offending feature.
This method also obviates the need for a site spoil heap (or it's related expense,) just scarper with your photos and afterwards let the supermarket employees deal with the filth.
If old Henri Cartier-Bresson were not snoring in Abraham's bosom he would surely applaud this endearing innovation!
Huzzah for you! Huzzah for me!
Fig.2: Archaeology Recorded According to Current Market Forces.
The archaeological use of cameras attached to kites to capture aerial photos (KAP- Kite Aerial Photography) has been well documented of late and this use of a child's toy married with cutting edge photographic technology has also led onto a new sub-genre of archaeological site photography known as 'See-Saw Aerial Photocopying' (SSAP.) 
SSAP has been used very successfully on many European Archaeological excavations - it's recent popularity stemming largely from the method's ability to completely negate the Observer Effect (more on this below.)
Fig.3: Removez-vous la lidde de la photoquopier et merci bien!
The process begins by borrowing a photocopier (from someone you don't respect) and removing the lid with a well aimed claw hammer. This completes the primary phase of the exercise. Phase two begins with obtaining a heavy weight of some description (nothing less than 20 stone,) constructing a makeshift seesaw and then assembling all elements as shown in the vignette below (fig.4)
Fig.4. Le Garcon Lardon est tres Politiquement Incorrect
Now allow me to briefly digress and explainthrough use of the principle of surprise SSAP nullifies the problem of the 'Observer Effect' (id est: by examining/recording a phenomenon you cause it to alter/change.) SSAP photographically records through swift unorthodox ambush and documents features before they realise what is happening, thereby not allowing them enough time to metamorphose. Exempli Gratia: a mid 13th century AD wattle fence will not have time to turn into Gary Numan (as they so often do - and I don't mind telling you I've had it up to my twin barrows finding him stretched out butt-naked in the mud before me.)
Alors to return to our methode - the xerox machine is set to approximately one hundred copies and the weight dropped smartly onto the see-saw. See fig.5.
Fig.5: Et Allez-Oop!
The photocopier then whirls into the air in a graceful half-moon trajectory and (if you have marshalled the union of see-saw/xerox/metabolically-challenged-person correctly) the copier should land face down on the unsuspecting feature flashing away merrily.
Et voila! The wattle is briskly mugged, retains it wattological morphology (albeit slightly flattened) and an A4 copy of it wafts shrewdly out to the adulation of dead photographers everywhere!!
As a final note SSAP occasionally can misfire, sending the copier in an unexpected orbit. See Fig. 6 below for a good example.

Fig.6 Mr. J. Demimonde. Site Safety Officer. His hard hat wasn't worth a shit.

Sleep Well My Pretties!


My photo
I am a descended from a long line of conga dancers. I occasionally wear shoes. I gave up going to the toilet twenty years ago - it's a filthy habit. I have a pet bunny called Mucky - he's a filthy rabbit.