quinta-feira, 26 de novembro de 2009

day 08 to 11

Day 09

On the 08 I went visit my friend Elaine and obviously I got completely lost in the train line and got hours late in Blackheath. We always have so many good conversations and as the time was passing, she was kind enough to invite me to sleep in her house, otherwise I would spend other few hours going back home. Next day I could enjoy a visit to Greenwhich park which is just around the corner.

And what a corner: I’ve been said – but could not get any proof of it- that Blackheath was named after the black plague mass burials were done there. That would be the reason why the lands never been sold or used in any other way. If the plague were caused by other factors than the bubonic pest (like anthrax, for instance), it would be possible a new contamination. The counter argument for this idea would be that although is possible that Blackheat camp contain black plague pits, is quite possible that each parish has its own pit. It can be said that the rocky ground and the high hill of Blackheath would not be a natural choice for a mass burial. At this point I just prefer to leave things buried as they are. The black plague killed thousands of people in London in 1348-49, and came back quite often, notably in 1665-66. the exact reasons for the plague cannot be traced so far, but quite possible that the bubonic pest, caused by bite of the rat’s flea is the main responsible associated with the dirtiness of the city.
some links about the matter:
and this particular one:

Blackheath was also the stage for the Climate Camp in August, where hundreds of people have camped for a few days to held workshops and discussions about the climate changes.
But the main vocation of the place seems to be a residential and quiet place, with a big empty grassy square.


About Greenwich Daniel Lima have posted here:
I should had write this before, and as days passed and I have lost the details.
I get to Greenwich park before the observatory was open which give me time to explore.
There are ruins of roman buildings there and some nice view over the Thames.

please don't step the roman ruins

It was the beginning of the autumn, so the first trees had colored leaves.
The Royal Observatory has a lot of good astronomical machines and some very important clocks and instruments for measuring. There is all Harrison’s clock. From there all the clocks would relate.

The only reason to get here is to reset my time. I am in London and must do things here, meet people and organize me. Think about the rest of the travel, which places are important to go.
Day 10
The Hunter Collection

Today I met my friend Katherine Bash in her studio in Goodenough College. Actually we met a lot this year. She took me to visit the Hunter Gallery a collection of the anatomist from the 19th century John Hunter. His collection is now in care of the Medicine School in London and in display is possible to see Hunter’s collection enlarged with a lot of new acquisitions.
It seems that the collection and the building were bombed at the Second World War, so don’t ask me how they recover the objects. They are mostly anatomic samples of animals and humans, showing the best possible the medicine advances of the time. There are some wood timbers with veins and nervous system over it that is just fantastic.

There are thousands of items in display. I would say the collection has a taste for the bizarre and the unusual. One of the items showed is the impressive skeleton from an Irish giant man called Charles Byrne, 2.31 meter high. Other items like the portrait of an incredibly fat person (would weight 300 kilos), a black African child with white spots in his body, the skeleton of the smaller person in the world, and so on. It is a nice place to visit, but not exactly to bring children.

Day 11
The Serpentine Gallery



segunda-feira, 16 de novembro de 2009

Day 07, 08

Day 07, 08


The travel took something like twelve hours from Galway to London: bus, train, ferry, train, train, tube, bus, walk home. When I arrived I was barely dead.

Back to London, time to rest and organize my studies, books, update my research and put life in order. I had some of my clothes stinking and other totally wet.

In London there's friends to meet, and fresh ideas to new plans. Life in London has its own timing.

I finally met Daniel

Again, there will be gaps in this diary.

sexta-feira, 13 de novembro de 2009

day 06

Day 06

In my last day in Galway, I decided going to the Aran Islands, three limestone islands not far from here. There are ferries quite frequently, and I wanted to see the famous Dún Aengus, or Dún Aonghasa, an iron age fort on the top of a cliff in the bigger of the Aran Islands, Inishmore.

There are other pre historical sites in Inishmore, including other forts and megalithic tombs. It's raining everyday now, so I had my new umbrella and rain clothes.

Getting to Inishmore is not difficult, you get tickets in town and at 9:00 you get a bus to the port. It takes about an hour to get there and there is still some time until the boat takes off and then some 40 minute in the sea.
After get there I went for information bureau and found in to the map places I wanted to go. Dún Aengus is very famous, so I though it would be not that hard to get there. There was a megalithic tomb that I find in the map and went after that.

The weather was very, very bad. The wind just destroyed my umbrella and in minutes I got soaked. So I continue anyway.
I took one of the roads and start walking. I had the map in my head, so I choose one of the possible roads, the one that runs by the sea. I've found the right way to walk up to the ruins of a former lighthouse.

the area seem from above, the Dun, the tomb and the lighthouse


ruins of the lighthouse

There is possible to see a round fort like the one in the Burren, called Dún Eochla fort which is not very different from the images of Dún Aengus. Dún Eochla was built between 500 and 800 AD, dating from the early Medieval period, and is located in the highest point of the island. It was repaired in the 19th century.
It was a good experience to be there, because it give me shelter from the rain as it may have done to the original settlers before me.

Dún Eochla fort

Just beside the Dún, there is a small wedge tomb, which not much information anywhere. Even in the turistic information they did not know about it. it has the same style from the Poulabrone, and in fact are somewhat alike, with thin and rectangular stones. It was in bad shape, actually like it was intended to be restored in a bad way. It made me think if it was really a tomb for a while.

wedge tomb

The weather was really hard so followed the trail looking for the other tomb, but as I could not find it though I found some beautiful cliffs, I took the way to Dún Aengus. But the rain did not allow me to get there, although I was not far from it.

Dún Aengus is a iron age fort that stands in the border of a cliff, and it produces a dramatic view, when seem from the top. It is been used since then and reconstructed some times. The actual fort was not built in the edge of the cliff, but some hundred meters from it. The cliff fell and parts of the fort fell with it. Today there is half of it remains.

this is Dún Aengus on a nice day

Tomorrow I must spend most of the day going back to London. I had good experiences here in Ireland, but bad weather all along. I think it’s been raining everyday for 12 days now. I could not explore so much as I wanted, but I could see some especial things here. Hope I can come back with more time.

quinta-feira, 12 de novembro de 2009

Day 05

Day 05

Water spirit feelings

Springin' round my head

Makes me feel glad

That I'm not dead

(jim pepper)


The day was dark in the morning, announcing rain. The forecast from yesterday had changed at some point and announced rain too. But I had a plan and a man with a plan is always something to look at. Yesterday I noticed a guy hiring bikes in Ballyvaghan, so I had to try to reach Poulabrone megalithic tomb again. So I just made the as yesterday, but this time I hire a bike- and of course did not went to the cave. Actually I had to go to the cave the day before, as I was very curious about it. It is one of the biggest of the world, and one of the best preserved show cave in Europe. Well, I don’t agree with the new entrance they made for that, and actually got a bit disappointed with the turistic scenary around, but one only can say that after going there – and supposedly paying 17 euro to enter.

Today I was focused in the tomb. In the way is possible to see several standing stones, cairns and megalithic monuments, and most of them are very usual in the landscape. There are dozens of little stone strange combinations, and many of them are with no doubt modern. Some you just can’t tell, and maybe has a much older history. In a bike is not easy to make photos, and everything you carry adds weight and make your journey more and more uneasy. At some point I had to stop and lay down on the floor (ok, it was the most beautiful sight ever), and many times I just jump off the bike and would carry it uphill.


In about one hour I arrived at Poulabrone, a dolmen like over a cairn, constructed in the stone age, around 3000 BC. Radiocarbone shows that the 30 bodies buried there died around 4200 and 2900 BC. When excavated it was found a baby buried there around 1500 BC, sign that the place been used for ceremonials for a long span of time.

The dolmen is one of the best preserved in Ireland, “if not the best” according with the signs in the place. Like most of the places here in Ireland, Poulabrone is surrounded by a line and you are not allowed to trespass it, and that no doubt vanishes a bit of the emotion of the place, tough tourist herds can actually endanger the monuments.

I probably would not do it better. Anyway is a tiny and beautiful construction. The capstone is a thin rectangular stone about 1.500 kg, supported by 4 stones equally thin and rectangular. It don’t resembles examples like Arthur’s Stone in Wales.

The area surrounding passed through changes, the most dramatic was the loss of soil, for reasons that I can’t imagine, but only guess that the wind must have helped. The vegetation, basically pines simply disappeared, and today the Burren is almost all stone.


From there I went to the Caherconnel stone fort. There are dozens of these stone forts in the Burren, and this is one of the largest. The stone fort is a tradition that comes from the iron age, but been increasing during the early medieval period, when the farms get more elaborate. This barely comprises the time between 500 BC to 1000AD.

Of particular interest, this site has been excavated recently and there was found a body of a young lady buried in the 14th century according with the radiocarbone, but defleshed and with the bones separate like some stone age funerals. If the body was buried at the 14th century, it should have a Christian burial.

To make it more confusing, it was found near her some flints and beads much like in the Neolithic tradition. Quite difficult puzzle to solve. Since dating are expensive and difficult to do, I don’t think we are going to have a quick answer for that. This was the first time I saw a site just excavated (it happened just last year).

It was not possible to find another cairn I was interested, nor the other tomb. I went on the road with the bike and could go through a plain area at last. I must have biked about 5 kilometers. The cairn should be 500ms. Too bad.
Despite anything this was a quite pleasant part of the day.

That's when I went downhill back to the bike hiker and the last bus back to town, and that was serious. coming back was fun and beautiful, I seen a falcon or something like that, like floating in front of me. No photos, sorry.

Tomorrow head to Aran islands, where there's a cliff fort I want to go, named "Aengus", which is the name of the god of love.