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Royals and Ramblings

Updated: Sep 20

We are still in the midst of mourning the Queen here in the UK, and it has caused me some delays.

We went out shopping on Saturday, and all the little shops had various signs posting some kind of acknowledgment of her, along with a notice that they would be closed on Monday. It was oddly touching in the midst of a hectic, tourist-filled hubbub in the village center.

Naturally I’ve been keeping up with the whole affair via online news, and making type guesses along the way… Elizabeth is universally supposed to have had preferences for ISTJ, which I agree with. The new King Charles may have preferences for ISFJ (borne out by his Wikipedia entry methinks), Camilla—I don’t know, Catherine Middleton seems like she might have ESFJ preferences to me, and Prince William is another “I don’t know” but he is likely introverted because he seems quite behind-the-scenes energetically. (Friends have made compelling arguments that he may have ISFJ preferences like his father.)

I keep wondering whether Harry’s type preferences are for ESFP and Meghan Markle’s are for ENTJ. Certainly Harry and Meghan are a favorite topic of controversy for the media, and she’s been an extraordinary catalyst (for good or ill) throughout their saga together—these type designations might explain a few things.

For the record, I puzzled all that out on my own or in conversation with other professional typologists and not by using the online Personality Database, which is a load of garbage. Please don’t use it! Use your own mind instead. My guesses are subject to change and discussion, especially since they are historically and contextually uninformed, and I’m watching my language (meaning I don’t say “Charles is ISFJ” as if it were the truth). I’m entirely open to changing my opinion.

On Sunday, we observed the government sanctioned minute of silence in the Queen's honor. Today (September 19) we made the choice to watch the beginning of Queen Elizabeth’s funeral at 10:30am UK time, intending to get back to work after 20 minutes or so. But we got hooked and found ourselves glued to the screen until after 5pm when the service in St. George’s Chapel concluded.

I daresay something was archetypally resonant about the event that drew us in (along with billions of other people who likewise watched the solemnities). This event signaled the end of an era, and the symbolism displayed throughout the occasion was simply riveting. The church bells ringing, the curtseys, the corgis, her horse, flowers on the ground everywhere, the bagpiper laments, the reminder of the Queen’s Covid speech, the two minutes of divine silence, people tossing stemmed flowers onto her hearse, the breaking of the wand—all of that played on our heart strings and resonated with something deep and meaningful within.

A rollercoaster of emotions unfurled throughout the day while we cried, smiled, wondered, laughed, and grieved during our viewing on a tiny laptop screen. My Australian husband recalled how the Queen had been a constant in his life—he sang God Save the Queen during primary school assemblies; her Majesty shook hands with his mother during a royal visit to his hometown of Adelaide in the 1970s; the list goes on. He succumbed to weeping several times during the ceremony.

It was a day of tradition, ceremony, and symbolism—a grand mixture of grief, appreciation, and reflection. The British choreographed this magnificent spectacle tastefully and with great dignity. I was emotionally exhausted—in the best way—by the end of the ceremony, and it allowed me to lament my own losses and grieve those we lost during Covid. I might dare suggest this was her final act of service: uniting us publicly after this ghastly period of forced separation due to Covid. And, coming on a sunny day in the UK not long after her glorious Platinum Jubilee celebration, I don’t know that she could have timed her exit any better. As a final gesture to mark the moment, I'll simply whisper a heartfelt “God save the King.”

Now I’m going to get back to my usual jam, which is telling you about crazy things I’ve done and interesting places I’ve been!

As mentioned already, we got out and about in Whitby for a short outing, and captured this iconic shot of the view:

During the 18th and 19th centuries the whaling industry was thriving in Whitby. Whaling was a chance for great wealth for those who managed a successful catch, but incredibly dangerous. Many boats capsized and sailors died. When a fleet returned to port, crews would strap a whale’s jawbone atop the ship’s mast as a sign they had killed the animal and not the other way around.

To recognize this tradition and the town’s important whaling history, a whale bone arch was erected on Whitby’s West Cliff in 1853, strategically positioned to feature Whitby Harbour and Whitby Abbey in the background.

Picturesque it may be, but the whale bone arch I’m under is not the original; it’s actually the third arch to stand in this spot. After withstanding decades of East Coast storms and gales, the arch weathered to the point where it was at risk of crumbling, so they were replaced, and the originals donated to the museum.

The Abbey is due to begin hosting nightly “illuminations” (probably purple lighting) in October in celebration of Halloween, and sadly we will be gone by then. But the Gothic theme is ubiquitous in Whitby, no doubt due to its Dracula affiliation.

Robin snagged an iconic pic with the statue of one of his childhood exemplars, Captain Cook, who “discovered” Australia in 1770. He surveyed the east coast of that country in great detail, providing subsequent voyagers with accurate maps that had been hitherto unavailable.

A couple of years ago Robin dragged us to the Captain Cook Museum in Whitby so he could relive his childhood by making a pilgrimage to the place where Cook lived during his naval apprenticeship. (-yawn-)

But mostly we went shopping and got some basics. The village of Whitby is charming and historical with its links to fishing, piracy, the Brontë sisters, and Dracula.

Robin related to the signage on this passageway.

I bought some “potato sack” dresses I can pull on just to wear around the house while I’m working on the computer. We’ve battled some spiders, large and small, and the kittens are finally joining me in the bedroom whilst I work in bed. (I’m still trying to enroll the third cat.)

Because we haven’t done much of interest all week, I’m going to rewind the clock and tell you about some of our further adventures in Cornwall over the summer as part of my birthday celebration.

So let me take you back in time to July 16—the day after my birthday—and we are in Penzance on the Penwith Peninsula, tired but happy after our visit to St. Michael’s Mount on the day previous.

We decided to visit the ancient site of Chysauster.

Before you read another syllable, try saying that word aloud. G’wan, try it. Try it again. And again.

And then give up. Because it’s impossible.

The pronunciation is “chy-ZOY-ster…. although I have also been told it's pronounced “shy saucer” or “shyster.” Whatever it is—it’s counter-intuitive and WEIRD!

The original residents of Chysauster would have spoken an early Celtic language, a forerunner of Cornish, and the Cornish language survived in West Penwith longer than it did any other area.

It was ideal to visit Chysauster, because it’s a large outdoor expanse with gorgeous views. We could wander around and discover things without too much effort, rushing, or neck-breaking (as many of our outings become).

The site is operated by English Heritage, and it contains the ruins of a late Iron Age and Romano-British settlement. The landscape provides a fascinating look into ancient Britain, with fantastic views of the ocean in the distance as an added bonus.

The settlement is one of the best-preserved ancient sites in Cornwall, and an excellent example of a prehistoric village.

Around the site are stone boundary walls dating back to prehistoric times.

This courtyard house style of home with a compartmented design are a uniquely West Penwith form of dwelling which began to appear at the end of the Iron Age (around 500 B.C.E.) and continued to be occupied until the 4th–5th centuries A.D. (the Romano-Cornish period).

It's doubtless there was an earlier settlement here which may have been more extensive, but the village as seen today probably dates from the later period of the 2nd–3rd centuries A.D.

These ten courtyard houses may have housed ten extended families, so perhaps 50 to 70 native people lived here at the village's peak. They were called the Dumnonii by the Romans, although it’s unclear what they called themselves. Later on, people in this area were known as the Cornovii, a tribal name preserved in the name Cornwall.

Visitors can trace minute details of the houses, such as water channels and stone hollows once used to support timber uprights, while also considering who might have lived there those 2,000 years ago. The settlers were an agricultural community, growing cereal crops, and they probably kept pigs and goats.

Chysauster seems to have been abandoned in the 3rd century. Nobody knows why—there is no sign of any violence or conflict. However, by this time, people in Cornwall were more often living in “rounds”—small defended settlements enclosing several round houses. Up to 100 rounds are known in West Penwith alone.

Maybe the wives convinced their husbands to “keep up with the Joneses” and move into “modern” living quarters.

Chyauster has been excavated several times, including a dig in 1873, and reconstruction work has also been carried out on multiple occasions.

Here’s an example of what the site might have looked like according to an artist’s rendering:

© Historic England/English Heritage Trust (illustration by Peter Urmston).


A drone fly-over is probably the best way to view it and grasp its size: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OzslDgdowkk

At this site we were introduced to the “witches’ fogou,” pronounced “fo-goo.” This term is derived from the Cornish word fogo, meaning cave. Fogous are stone-built underground tunnels, usually with a long passage and sometimes a chamber.

These peculiar structures are unique and found only in the far west of Cornwall—15 definite fogous have been identified in the area.

Fogous are shrouded in mystery since no one really knows what they were for. Normally they are found on the edge of settlements, and guesses about their use have included: food stores, hiding places, refuges/shelters, charnel houses, or perhaps sites intended for ceremonial and ritual or religious functions. Their painstaking construction suggests they were of great value to the community.

This fogou lies south of the settlement rubble, but was originally contained within the settlement boundaries. It was recorded in 1861 as running at least 50 feet up the hillside, but now only 15 feet remain. It is inaccessible because it collapsed—and since it has never been excavated, its original size and shape remain unknown. It was blocked up with a grid in the late 20th century for safety reasons.

The fogou has nothing to do with witches, but perhaps the mystery of its purpose attracted this occult nickname.

An archeologist manning the Chysauster site encouraged us to visit Carn Euny, another Stone Age settlement. It was a short drive, so we headed on over. We enjoyed a pleasant, well-marked walk on a charming path through a forest followed by a grassy field getting there from the parking lot.

Carn Euny is another well-preserved Iron Age settlement tucked into the ancient landscape of Land's End Peninsula. This village dates from the 1st century B.C.E., although evidence shows the site had been settled since the Bronze Age.

The name Carn Euny is Cornish and derives from carn, meaning a naturally occurring rocky place, and euny, which is the name of a Celtic saint from centuries ago. It may also have been a popular personal name. (Girls' name? Boys' name? Nobody says. I'm thinking "Eunice" for the girls.)

Like Chysauster, at least ten houses were here, all belonging to different periods of occupation from the Iron Age onwards. These houses cluster together in a haphazard interlocking pattern, often sharing exterior walls.

The houses are of two types. Seven of them are simple, single-roomed round or oval houses—the standard house type across Cornwall at this time. Some of these were built directly over earlier structures. Three of them are “courtyard houses” like those at Chysauster.

Rooms, huts, workshops, and stables are built around a central courtyard, with a substantial doorway leading from the courtyard to the lanes and “streets” of the village.

Remains of these walls are well-preserved; only the wooden, thatch, and turf elements of the houses have vanished, leaving it relatively easy to stand in the heart of the village and reconstruct what it must have looked like 2,000 years ago.

The site was discovered in the early 19th century by tin prospectors, and extensive excavations were made on the site between 1964 and 1972. It suffered damage over the years from stone-robbing and farming, meaning its overall layout is not easy to make out. Like Chysauster, a drone fly-over reveals it more clearly: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=odWMWDSzoog

Excavations showed the site to be a hive of constant activity from the Neolithic period right up until the late Roman period when the village was mysteriously abandoned, just like Chysauster was.

If the houses at Carn Euny are less impressive than those of other ancient villages in West Cornwall, the same cannot be said of the stunning fogou found in the heart of the village.

This large and excellently-preserved fogou is the most important structure on the site, running 65 feet just below the surface of the ground and roofed with massive stone slabs and capstones.

This complex of passages is the largest and best-preserved of all the mysterious fogous associated with Cornish Iron Age villages.

Extended several times during the life of the settlement, this spectacular fogou comprises a remarkable underground stone chamber with a slightly serpentine entrance passage that leads to a circular corbelled room resembling a beehive. A small tunnel may represent a second entrance.

This structure was built by Iron Age inhabitants of this village using a “cut and cover” method: dig a trench, line it with stones, and cover it with huge slabs of granite. One of the thrills of visiting the site is to stand in the fogou and speculate about why it was built.

Robin explored the Carn Euny fogou in a 2:40 video he narrated here: https://youtu.be/7dfe_t-5Dmg

Off to the side of the village, a path leads from the domesticated site down into the wild, enchanted woods where an ancient well is said to be located beneath a large granite rock—but whatever used to be there was covered by a metal grid. The area is mysterious and beautiful, however.

According to English Heritage signage, if one goes further that direction, the holy well of St. Euny will be encountered, and a chapel reportedly stood there until 1830, giving its name to the area. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find this fabled holy well either, but I did a little delving into who Saint Euny was.

Saint Euny is rumored to have been an early Christian missionary who arrived in Cornwall from Ireland to promote Christianity before it became the main religion. He traveled with his brother Erc and sister Ia from Ireland, and all three of these saints founded Cornish churches and communities.

Local legends claim Saint Euny visited a heathen holy site maintained by an unknown Romano-British chieftain (surely pagan), and the saint performed a “wonder of God” that either resulted in or became commemorated by the holy well located in that region.

It is also suggested Saint Euny may have been martyred in Cornwall. Regardless, his cultus is particularly strong, with 5 separate attested sites of veneration (largely consisting of holy wells), and his feast-day has been kept constantly on a local basis for 1,400 years.

A couple of days after this outing, we decided to go further afield than Penwith Peninsula and visit the Lizard Peninsula.

In Cornish, the name Lizard is An Lysardh, so its common name is probably a corruption of that Cornish name, and it means "high court”—nothing to do with lizards!

The Lizard is a natural region of England and has been designated as a “national character area.” It is known for its geology and rare plants, and lies within the Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

It’s a shame we had so little time there.

Amongst our other sightseeing adventures here (I’ll tell you about them another time), we had our eyes trained on yet another FOGOU!

Halliggye Fogou, thought to have been constructed in the 5th or 4th centuries B.C.E. (the middle Iron Age), was once part of a small farming settlement called a “round” (like those I’ve described above), which was probably occupied until the end of the Roman period.

The round at Halliggye was probably home to several family groups who lived in four or five houses. Pottery found during recent excavations suggests the settlement was occupied for 700 years, probably until the end of the Roman period.

Situated at the top of a hill, this fogou is a small complex of underground passages built with massive stone slabs.

The Halliggye Fogou was first mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 when it was recorded as Heligin, a Cornish word meaning “place of the willow trees.” Halliggye is pronounced “hal-LEAG-ghee.”

In the 1980s, a series of small excavations were carried out by English Heritage for the purpose of clearing debris from the passage in order to aid examination and repair work. During routine plowing of the field, the blade of the plow breached the roof of the main chamber; they turned the “oops!” hole into an entrance stairway for visitors.

The long, sloping passage of Halliggye Fogou ends in a “creep”—a smaller passage of reduced height.

The fogou consists of a long narrow tunnel leading to three sectioned chambers, and a window-like entrance that was dug in Victorian times by supposed treasure hunters (this has since been filled in).

This complex of passages has a roof and walls of stone, and is the largest and best-preserved of several mysterious tunnels associated with Cornish Iron Age settlements.

It was DARK inside there, and felt eerie and mysterious. Robin shot a 2:14 video of the tunnels, but our lighting was dismal: https://youtu.be/ILG0py__Mmo

Here’s someone else’s 2:31 fogou walkthrough with better lighting, but without commentary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nzs7MRUyc3o

That’s enough fogou for you for one day!

Since it’s Fall and Halloween is fast approaching, get a load of the spider we found in the shower (penny for size).

Ewwwwwww!

warmly, -Dr. Vicky Jo

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