More outings

Dot writes: pedantry is in my blood. It brings me a curious mixture of pleasure and pain; pain at the trivial things I spot that are gratuitously wrong; pleasure at knowing how they should be righted; pain again at realising I’m an insufferable smartie-pants. Have a look at the following picture, taken in the Irish National Heritage Park last Thursday, and see if you can spot what’s wrong in the cell of the fibreglass early celtic monk:

Did you get it? It’s the tonsure, of course. That’s a Roman tonsure, that is! Fortunately the monastery reconstruction was one of the last things we saw on our visit, after the stone age settlement, the dolmen, the cross small boy, the cafe, the shop, the crannog, the Viking boatyard, the cross smaller boy who didn’t want to leave the Viking boatyard, and a few other things. It was a beautiful day.

I’d been wanting to go to the Heritage Park for a while, and Mum’s visit was a good excuse to take such a long trip (all the way down to Wexford, pretty much). But oddly enough we had an even more successful outing (from the point of view of pleasing the children) the day before to theNational Garden Exhibition Centre. Forget about costumed guides, thatching or clinker-built hulls: what my boys really love is cast-iron garden ornaments, climbing frames, and lots of water features to dabble in.

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8 thoughts on “More outings

  1. I never would have spotted that one.

    I’m a pedant, too, about the things I know a lot about. Tonsure? Not one of them. All I know is it made Cadfael look wise.

    1. Just spotted this thread myself. I’m an Irish archaeologist with a fair deal of experience in this area and actually advised on the reconstruction of the Heritage Park monk. He’s 100% accurate from tonsure down to shoes, with information taken from manuscripts and contemporary illustrations. You’re quite right about the existence of a celtic tonsure which goes ear-to-ear, but by 10th/11th century this was pretty much abandoned as the Irish church began a process of reform and sought to bring itself more into line with the wider Roman church. If we were showing a monk from the earlier period, then definitely we would have used an ear to ear tonsure, with long hair and eye-shadow (believe it or not!).
      Ronan O’Flaherty

      1. kenanddot

        Thankyou, it’s good to learn something! And sorry for maligning your work online. My mental picture of the Irish monk is very much the early Irish monk, I suppose.

    1. kenanddot

      There was actually a lot to get annoyed about. The thing that irritated me most, but that wasn’t photographable, was the fact that they used edited extracts from that RTE series ‘The Secrets of the Stones’ as an introductory video that was supposed to give us the rundown on five thousand years of Irish history. It’s not only pushing a rather one-sided environmental-determinist view of how cultural change happens but it’s full of guff about ‘at last, modern scientific methods have solved the mysteries that have puzzled us for centuries’ – as though archival research, stratigraphy, art history, establishing pottery sequences, comparative anthropology etc got us absolutely nowhere until someone came along with a geophysics machine and a graph of ice cores and cleared everything right up. Grr.

  2. Pingback: And more sun | Ken and Dot's Allsorts

  3. Marco

    Hi Ken, I just stumbled upon your post as the Monk came up in a google search. I’m actually part of the team that originally designed this fiberglass figure and was interested in reading your comments. The tonsure is actually an Irish tonsure which differs greatly from the Roman tonsure in that it was only a very small patch that was shaven at the crown. Thought this might be of interest to you.

    I’m glad to report I had nothing to do with the RTE documentary though 🙂

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