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 The Rabbits Have Been At It Again ...

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nordmann
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PostSubject: The Rabbits Have Been At It Again ...   Tue 04 Feb 2014, 09:04

In these times of reduced resources for archaeological pursuits, not to mention the often tortuously restrictive legal limitations and obligations placed on the pursuers, it is heartening to see that our leporid allies are still resolutely going where human archaeologists fear to dig. Following on from recent amazing finds in Stonehenge the archaeological bunnies have now struck gold in Land's End, Cornwall.

Rabbit Archaeology in Cornwall (Daily Mail report)

The gold of course is of the archaeological kind, not the metallic, but what a find it appears to be! The dicovery of an important Neolithic cemetery would have been impressive in its own right. However not content with this the enterprising coneys have also found a Bronze Age burial mound and what looks to have been an Iron Age hill fort.



Their (literally) groundbreaking discovery will now be followed up by Big Heritage, a Wirral-based archaeological outfit.

And of course it is only fair to point out that archaeologists have something of a love/hate relationship with their enthusiastic undergorund assistants. It seems when not making fantastic new discoveries the bunny population is preoccupied with dismantling those already made. Some historians, according to this article, have even demanded in the past the reintroduction of myxomatosis in the UK to eradicate these professional rivals.

http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2005/aug/21/ruralaffairs.theobserver


Archaeological rivalry - the aftermath
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PostSubject: Re: The Rabbits Have Been At It Again ...   Thu 06 Feb 2014, 23:44

Is this the year of the rabbit? I have been in three conversations about rabbits in two days - usually go decades without mention, I think.  The local warrens were all along the length of  railway embankments - rather dangerous I would have thought. Did they then belong to the railway? Locals in the town who went aferreting with their little bum-waggy white dogs and sometimes a gun were all considered poachers, so would that be the reason? This was a night time occupation with covert day-time gunny bag barter exchange from which we all benefitted in our area. And yes,  I could still gut and skin a rabbit just as mother did and make good stew. My family heard this with disbelief. Set against the more extraordinary of my life experiences that seems tame. I reckon I shall spend the rest of my waning years in silence.
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: The Rabbits Have Been At It Again ...   Fri 07 Feb 2014, 08:02

Rabbit stew from very similar sources was frequent enough on our dinner table to be considered a staple, P. I still love it but it's very hard to get now at a reasonable price.

People say it's a "dirty" meat - however I seem to recall the only health risk involved was the slight chance of contracting lead poisoning.
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: The Rabbits Have Been At It Again ...   Fri 07 Feb 2014, 09:53

For all our (pretentious? boring? tedious? bullshitting?  Shocked ) talk of Plato, Russell and Cara-bloody-vaggio, this note of Oscar Wilde (written to Warder Martin) about the three children who, like Wilde, were incarcerated in HM Prison Reading, he for "gross indecency" and they "for the rabbits", says more about what really matters than all the clever philosophers of this world put together.

And respect to Warder Martin, too. I hope he got Oscar his ginger biscuits, and I hope the children got out.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/w/wilde/oscar/harris/appendix3.html

Please find out for me the name of A.2.11. Also, the names of the children who are in for the rabbits, and the amount of the fine.

Can I pay this and get them out? If so I will get them out tomorrow. Please, dear friend, do this for me. I must get them out.

Think what a thing for me it would be to be able to help three little children. I would be delighted beyond words: if I can do this by paying the fine tell the children that they are to be released tomorrow by a friend, and ask them to be happy and not to tell anyone.
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PostSubject: Re: The Rabbits Have Been At It Again ...   Fri 07 Feb 2014, 10:31

Hunting rabbits on someone else's land without permission is still covered by the 1828 Night Poaching Act. It was invoked as recently as 2007 when two men were caught shooting rabbits on a farmer's land without his knowledge and they were duly convicted and fined under it at Hereford Magistrate's Court. They were both fined £45 for taking the rabbits, £225 for trespassing and were ordered to pay the court £115 in costs ... but by the terms of the Act they could have faced imprisonment until they had paid their fine or, had they failed to pay in three months, they could have been, "transported beyond seas for seven years or be kept to hard labour in the common gaol for two years".

Even on common land, where it is legal to hunt rabbits, I believe it is illegal to hunt during the hours of darkness ... though I'm not sure of the reasoning behind that. Is it not to make it too easy - rabbits freeze if you shine a light in their eyes? or is it a safety precaution to prevent hunters blasting away at anything rustling in the bushes, be they rabbits or courting couples?

Where I used to live in Epsom the railway embankments and cuttings were the home to hundreds of foxes. The railway used the third rail system, with the power being supplied by an electrified rail running parallel to the tracks. The foxes, and rabbits, badgers, feral moggies, etc all seemed able to cross the tracks without ever touching the power line .... but how did they know that just to brush against it would have been certain death?


Last edited by Meles meles on Fri 07 Feb 2014, 13:17; edited 1 time in total
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: The Rabbits Have Been At It Again ...   Fri 07 Feb 2014, 13:07

If I have a criticism of Stephen Fry's portrayal of Wilde in the film from a few years back (which was basically sound) it was that Wilde's generosity of spirit was misrepresented as simply a facet of his homosexuality. Trinity College's University Philosophical Society has a long tradition of excellent charitable work on behalf of Dublin's poor, a whole new side to their function instigated by Wilde when he was secretary which has lasted over the years. His brother Willie was also a great champion of workers' rights in the city at a time when it was positively dangerous to side against the powers that be. Oscar was often recruited by Willie to speak at rallies - their work on behalf of the Land League was much appreciated, keeping the issue in the political spotlight both in Ireland and crucially in London. Wilde had nothing to gain from any of this and in fact much to lose, especially when he was simultanaeously beginning to enjoy a reputation as an "establishment darling" in London high society.

The Land League were subject to many court prosecutions led by Edward Carson, a lawyer who saw the inevitable progression from agrarian agitation to Home Rule demands even before it happened. Guess who prosecuted the indecency trial.
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PostSubject: Re: The Rabbits Have Been At It Again ...   Fri 07 Feb 2014, 14:50

Oh Lor! I've just seen a book on a Google search called 'Plato's Rabbits.'
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PostSubject: Re: The Rabbits Have Been At It Again ...   Fri 07 Feb 2014, 17:07

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PostSubject: Re: The Rabbits Have Been At It Again ...   Fri 07 Feb 2014, 17:22

LOL ... very clever Temp .... from 'Plato's Burrow' I presume.
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PostSubject: Re: The Rabbits Have Been At It Again ...   Fri 06 Nov 2015, 08:45

And now it's the pigs' turn. On Islay, no less.



Rubha Port an t-Seilich, a very small promontory on the island's east coast, had become rather overrun with bracken in the past few years, so a local gamekeeper decided it might be an idea to let a few pigs loose in the area to get the vegetation down. The porkies excelled in their task and, in the process, also managed to unearth stone tools dated to around 12,000 years ago.

This is a significant find. Previously human habitation on the island had been tentatively dated back to 9,000 years ago. The extra 3,000 years however places humans in the vicinity before the last great Ice Age had fully delivered the land back to temperate climate. This in turn changes our perspective on who these people were, whence they had migrated, and what they were up to on ancient Islay. The current theory has them as reindeer hunters originating somewhere in Northern Germany and migrating with the herds they pursued, much as the Sami people also do today in Tundra regions of Northern Scandinavia.


Archaeologist Karen Wicks with some colleagues on Islay.
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PostSubject: Re: The Rabbits Have Been At It Again ...   Fri 06 Nov 2015, 10:24

That of course is the project, the press release from which I was ranting about earlier. That, along with the Howburn assemblage and the Cresswell material plus random finds of artefacts in Argyll etc, seems to indicate that during the interstadial before the Younger Dryas - or the Loch Lomond Advance as we term it here - there was considerable migration across Doggerland by these hunting bands and it seems there may have been repeat visits to the same sites.

The climate change that ushered in that final glacial advance appears to have been quite amazingly rapid, happening over possibly just a decade or at most a few.
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PostSubject: Re: The Rabbits Have Been At It Again ...   Fri 06 Nov 2015, 23:50

hi peeps... i hope your all well.

so a place for rabbit talk... where i live in the new forest i'm amazed at the lack of rabbits, foxes too for that matter... we have ponies, donkeys and deer aplenty and now winter is coming on the pigs have been turned out to feed off the acorns... but rabbits, where have they all gone, and the lack of bunnies seems to stretch across the country... last week i drove up to Edinburgh, down to York, then Leeds and Doncaster... didn't see one rabbit in all those miles.  has anyone else noticed a decline in rabbit numbers...
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PostSubject: Re: The Rabbits Have Been At It Again ...   Sat 07 Nov 2015, 09:59



Good to see you, how's it hanging?
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PostSubject: Re: The Rabbits Have Been At It Again ...   Sun 08 Nov 2015, 19:29

@normanhurst wrote:


so a place for rabbit talk... where i live in the new forest i'm amazed at the lack of rabbits, foxes too for that matter... we have ponies, donkeys and deer aplenty and now winter is coming on the pigs have been turned out to feed off the acorns... but rabbits, where have they all gone, and the lack of bunnies seems to stretch across the country... last week i drove up to Edinburgh, down to York, then Leeds and Doncaster... didn't see one rabbit in all those miles.  has anyone else noticed a decline in rabbit numbers...



Yes. There used to be at least nine rabbits on my lawn. There are now only about seven. This is thanks to the hunting skills of Bosworth's significant other. Bosworth is unimpressed, but I'm not.
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PostSubject: Re: The Rabbits Have Been At It Again ...   Mon 09 Nov 2015, 10:25

Of course moles had to feature somewhere in archaeology, and indeed they have done, most notably in England and Denmark in recent times.

In the English case a rather innovative approach to how to get around excavating listed monuments was solved at the old Roman fort site of Epiacum in Cumbria. Moles are notoriously short-sighted, hence I assume the reason they have blithely ignored all written commands to desist from pursuing their own excavations in the vicinity.


Epiacum

This from a BBC report in May, 2013:

Paul Frodsham, an archaeologist with the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), runs a project called Altogether Archaeology, which has signed up 500 volunteers to take part in digs under professional supervision.
Fifty of those have taken part in an effort to sift through the molehills at Epiacum and keep a record of what the animals dig up and where.

Is it possible to enjoy a more harmonious relationship with moles?
"I realise it sounds a bit ridiculous, but it's actually quite serious," Mr Frodsham said.
"We look at all the finds and we work out what's going on in different parts off the fort and different kinds of pottery tell us what dates different buildings are."
He stressed the work must be done with the permission of English Heritage.
As well as fragments of pottery and glass, the moles have dragged up some attractive and intact artefacts.
A molehill recently pushed up a piece of Samian ware - a type of brown pottery common on Roman sites - thought to be a stand for a vase or bowl, or possibly an egg cup.
Last year they discovered a jet bead and a decorative bronze dolphin.


And not to be outdone, the Viborg Museum in Denmark, faced with similar difficulties researching the supposed site of a Middle Ages fort in the area, hit upon the idea of actually hiring in moles for the job. They quite correctly applied for permission from Kulturstyrelsen (the Heritage Board) to introduce a team of the little tunnelers in March this year. The aim has been to locate where the buildings might have been and the logic is simple - the more stuff the moles find in any area the closer to old human habitation they're getting. So far the results have been so impressive that other Danish archaeology groups are contemplating doing the same (maybe the Viborg moles can now be hired out due to their vastly superior experience).


A moleologist at work
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PostSubject: Re: The Rabbits Have Been At It Again ...   Mon 09 Nov 2015, 10:47

@nordmann wrote:


A moleologist at work.


Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: The Rabbits Have Been At It Again ...   Mon 09 Nov 2015, 10:54

Ooooh, I want to set up a team of moleologists - for a start they wouldn't turn up in the morning late and with a hangover.
I am not, however, taken with being an Altogether Archaeologist. The weather here is just not conducive to digging in the altogether.


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PostSubject: Re: The Rabbits Have Been At It Again ...   Mon 09 Nov 2015, 12:22

Amazingly (well, at least to me) dogs are pretty crappy archaeologists.

In recent years a mutt called Migaloo in Australia made some headlines around the place due to his expertise in locating aboriginal burials (the view of aborigines on this matter is understandably mixed). After a blaze of publicity in 2012 however Migaloo has dropped from the public eye of late - presumably either due to a tendency to want the chew the archaeology or maybe because he was finding things the aborigines had sort of rather hoped the white lads didn't know about.



However in Louisiana more recently they actually put the Migaloo method to the test on a larger scale. In researching an old burial ground in Tallahassie in which many African-American slaves and plantation workers had been buried with little or no lasting recognition by way of tombstones, the Florida Public Archaeology Network along with a few other groups actually commissioned "cadaver dogs" from local law enforcement agencies to help in locating potential grave locations in the vast site under examination. The dogs enjoyed some limited success - while brilliant at locating animal remains, including human, they were completely thrown by "dropped scents". This happens when the scent of a cadaver is actually absorbed by certain foliage which then "drops" it from its leafy perimeters (during rainfall for example). In a now heavily wooded site like the Munree Cemetry this poses a huge problem. Rodent -disturbed remains also threw the animals, but then disturbed remains would throw any human archaeologist to an extent as well. The consensus at the end of the exercise however was that the canine assistants had at least identified general concentrations of remains better than any other non-digging exercise could have achieved, though their results still tended to have to be verified by GPR before the pooches' bark was taken as gospel.


You can see just how much forestry confuses this site - even for GPR assessment.
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PostSubject: Re: The Rabbits Have Been At It Again ...   Mon 09 Nov 2015, 14:16

Earthworms, it seems, are more interested in conservation - especially in ensuring that fragile artefacts be protected from the harsher elements of rain and wind. Here are two graphics indicating their valuable contribution to ensuring that pottery shards survive to be dug up by humans later, hopefully with as much tender care as the worms buried them.


Before conservation


After Annelidial curation

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PostSubject: Re: The Rabbits Have Been At It Again ...   Mon 09 Nov 2015, 14:34

Bioturbation! It all comes back eventually.

The rabbits really do make themselves at home in Roman forts, the last time I was at Ardoch I picked up a couple of (very small and tatty) shards of samian outside a burrow in the side of a ditch. My experience with dogs was less successful, the leader of one group I went out with always brought his dear old collie who loved her romps over the hills but also loved digging random holes and running off with finds from the tray.
She was good at keeping nosey young cows away though.
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PostSubject: Re: The Rabbits Have Been At It Again ...   Sun 22 Nov 2015, 16:38

Them there pesky moleologists have been at it again - this time in Switzerland digging up thousands of Roman coins.
http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/bronze-wage_hoard-of-roman-coins-found-in-switzerland/41788700
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PostSubject: Re: The Rabbits Have Been At It Again ...   Sun 22 Nov 2015, 17:25

So the Romans also didn't trust Swiss bankers and preferred to keep their savings safely buried in the orchard.
Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose ... or as they might have said, quanto magis eadem maneat mutantur*.


*especially if they spoke bad latin. I'm not at all sure I've got that right  Embarassed
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PostSubject: Re: The Rabbits Have Been At It Again ...   Thu 10 Dec 2015, 13:42

My resident mole has just thrown up a coin. It's a bronze coin about one inch in diameter and, following instructions on a metal-detectorists site, I tried to clean it up, first with dilute hydrogen peroxide and then a very dilute aqueas solution of ammonium hydroxide, .... but the details are still not very evident. The date, 1809, is reasonably clear, and on the other side I can just make out the badge of Perpignan: a diamond-shaped lozange with seven vertical stripes, the ancient heraldic "blood-and-gold" arms of Catalonia. And from a quick google, I see that Perpignan throughout the 18th century hosted first a royal, and later until 1815, a Republican mint.

It's interesting, but I do rather wish the moles would dig up some silver or gold coins instead ... or a Roman silver dinner service, some lavish Gaulish jewellery, or perhaps some lost Visigothic royal treasure. The land here has been farmed since at least the 14th century .... indeed probably much, much longer as it's one of the few parcels of flat land in an otherwise steep-sided valley. There's a megalithic tomb 2km away in one direction and a 10th century chapel 2km away facing it on the opposite side of the valley. And the ancient iron mines, just 4km away further up the mountain, have been worked continuously for over 2000 years, from before Rome annexed the area until they finally closed in 1955.

... but all I get is a Napoleonic copper sou.
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PostSubject: Re: The Rabbits Have Been At It Again ...   Thu 10 Dec 2015, 15:33

MM wrote:

... but all I get is a Napoleonic copper sou.


Still jolly exciting, though. Well, I think so.

One of our village chaps unearthed a very interesting coin - it was from the reign of Mary Tudor. I was green with envy.



Last edited by Temperance on Fri 11 Dec 2015, 11:38; edited 2 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: The Rabbits Have Been At It Again ...   Thu 10 Dec 2015, 17:08

What a good job it wasn't a valuable coin, MM, your cleaning regime would have ruined it. Do you never turn up any worked flint or chert? That's what gets me all excited but maybe that's because I've never found any gold. Or silver or bronze, come to that, just rusty lumps of broken agricultural machinery.

Temp, I assume your coin-finder has reported it to the Portable Antiquities people?
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PostSubject: Re: The Rabbits Have Been At It Again ...   Thu 10 Dec 2015, 18:09

@ferval wrote:

Temp, I assume your coin-finder has reported it to the Portable Antiquities people?



Oh, gosh, I really don't know, ferval. But your post sounds so stern! I think the villager took his coin to Barnstaple Museum - not quite the British Museum, I know, but we always try to do the right thing down here!


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PostSubject: Re: The Rabbits Have Been At It Again ...   Thu 10 Dec 2015, 20:01

Don't fret, the museum will have seen him do things properly. It's just that the English system is crazy when it comes to anything other than gold or silver - it becomes the finder's property, split with the landowner, and ends up with travesties like the Crosby Garrett helmet being sold to an anonymous bidder and vanishing from sight. Even simple recording of finds is voluntary,it makes me fume.
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PostSubject: Re: The Rabbits Have Been At It Again ...   Fri 11 Dec 2015, 09:18

It's still better than it was, though, I reckon. The use of portable antiquities officers seems to have been especially effective in recent years, at least according to yesterday's Guardian article about the Watlington Hoard.

"The precious metals meant the hoard was treasure that must by law be reported, but the treasure system overlaps with the voluntary portable antiquities scheme, based at the British Museum but with a network of finds officers across the country, many based in local museums. They recorded a total of 113,784 finds in 2014, along with 1,008 treasure finds, a fivefold increase since the twin schemes were introduced."


BM conservator Pippa Pearce tweezing out the Watlington loot from the gunk.
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PostSubject: Re: The Rabbits Have Been At It Again ...   Fri 11 Dec 2015, 11:58

And the latest hoard to be found:

Watlington Hoard
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PostSubject: Re: The Rabbits Have Been At It Again ...   Fri 11 Dec 2015, 13:17

@nordmann wrote:
It's still better than it was, though, I reckon. The use of portable antiquities officers seems to have been especially effective in recent years, at least according to yesterday's Guardian article about the Watlington Hoard.

Trike wrote:
And the latest hoard to be found:

Watlington Hoard

Smile

I hear they've also found a hoard in Watlington, Trike

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