Barry Raftery, wetlands specialist with the Department of Archaeology at
University College Dublin, has cited matching bronze horse bits as evidence
that chariots were used from early times. The fact that each bit is
decorated on only one side -- one on the left side and the other on the
right -- strongly suggests a pair of horses, which implies a chariot. Bronze
bits were used long after the Bronze Age, and still are in modern forms,
because they are better for the horse's mouth.
I know "early times" is vague, but Raftery told me that the bits support the
underlying historicity of the use of chariots in the Táin, which is set in
the early first century AD. He has also identified an unfinished bog road,
the Corlea Trackway, dated 148 BC in Longford as "85% probably" the one
mentioned in the Midir and Étaín mythological legend, which is set in that
period. The current generation of archaeologists are open to using myth and
legend to help explain some of their finds.
Fortuitously, The Irish Times has an article today about "an archaeology
seminar yesterday", which is not otherwise identified. One reported recent
find during the construction of a bypass is "an unfinished block wheel which
has been dated to the late Bronze Age (2200 BC - 600 BC). It is believed to
be the oldest wheel found in Ireland." [Those dates are the *whole* of the
Bronze Age in Europe, but I'm quoting from the article.]
----- Original Message -----
From: "Huntsman, Jeffrey F." <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Friday, August 28, 2009 5:09 PM
Subject: Re: burning question
Like much else in this traditional material, the use of chariots is likely a
remnant of memories of behavior from central Europe (think: the Magyar
plains). I do not attempt to remain current with the archeological
literature, but the last I knew, there I no physical evidence whatsoever of
chariots ever being in Ireland, which is on a list of islands (Iceland,
Sardinia, Io Jima) with terrain clearly unsuited to such devices.
Jeffrey F. Huntsman
6980 East Bender Road
Bloomington, IN 47401-9279
812-339-4855 / cell 812-272-6470
From: Old-Irish-L [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of
Kenneth Charles Simmonds
Sent: Friday, August 28, 2009 11:57 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: [OLD-IRISH-L] burning question
one thing that always strikes me when reading accounts of the heroic age is
the question of chariots.
How did the likes of Cú Chulainn, (whether or not he had seven fingers,
Dennis), actually use chariots under the conditions that then obtained in
Ireland? bridgeless rivers, no roads, bogs, woods, rocks, it must have been
a nightmare getting one's chariot to the place of combat and how could it
have bestowed a relative advantage in battle on the user?
By the way my qualification for posting in the first place (apart from good
old-fashioned presumption) is that I am plodding my way through David
Stifter's self-study course on Old Irish.
(by the way it's a very good course; My only beef is with the use of Greek
letters in transcriptions, which I find a distracting).