Monday, April 30, 2007

Using Archeology in Stories

"I wish I could say that I won that contest ... but my perform-
ance was well received, and toasted afterwards by one of the local lords, who gave me a ring-brooch from his own shoulder in token of his approval. A simple thing it was, but pleasant, made of good bronze, with a red enamel design covering the two terminals of the ring and the base of the pin. It had been fashioned at his own court of Dinas Powys, a short journey to the south and west from Caer Dydd ... Though I have since had many finer jewels, I still keep that brooch as a talisman. Worth is not always measured in weight of gold." -- Gwernin, in Storyteller

Dinas Powys was a real princely site, if a small one. Located on a hilltop a few miles southwest of Caerdydd, it was occupied in the mid-6th century, the date of Storyteller, and its excavation revealed signs of imported luxuries such as the amphorae in which wine and olive oil were shipped. The feasting that must have taken place there also left its mark in the form of abundant bones of cattle, sheep, pigs, and chickens, with a few deer and salmon bones for good measure.

Metal-working and jewelry-making debris was also found at Dinas Powys. Gwernin's brooch (pictured above) is a replica based on a fragment of a lead mold-stamp. The brooch itself would have been cast in a two-piece clay mold, and afterwards may have been ornamented with glass or enamelling. Although simple compared to many of its contemporaries, it was sturdy and workmanlike, a good thing of its type, as I can testify, having worn and used its re-embodiment for years.

From such fragments, the storyteller makes his tale, and brings the past to life.

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