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Troubadours of Albion Witchcraft Community

What's New?

Take a look at our new Craft Items page, which gives you access to all sorts of bespoke goodies, from hallmarked jewellery to flower arrangements, all made by us to your design.

We've started adding stories from the Mabinogion - first one, Lleu Llaw Gyffes has been added, but there are more on the way.

Look out, too, for the Troubadours of Albion Witches Brouhaha, an activism group set up to help uphold our values.  Join up here.

The Witches Brouhaha section on the website has been moved to the Elements' pages, under Fire.

Then again, if your tastes don't run to the cutting edge of politics, try our 'blog pages.  Still fiery enough to burn fluffies, but they won't singe your seat!

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From the Beginning, Then

Since about 6000 BCE, Britain has been an island, separate from its European neighbours.

Before that time, Britain was connected to what is now the European continent by a fairly broad land bridge of low-lying marsh called Doggerland.  Of course, as the ice from the last ice age melted, water from the Americas flooded over the Atlantic, swamping Doggerland and creating much of the North Sea and what has, from time immemorial, been called the English Channel.

This channel, particularly, has enabled Britain to develop separately from the Continent.  Whilst there have naturally been trades and cultural exchanges from visitors to our land, most of what we see in Britain was developed here.  This is different to what conventional wisdom teaches us: for instance, it was thought that farming was introduced to us by middle-eastern influences.  Archaeology, however, indicates that this is not the case.  In Starr Carr in Yorkshire, for example, the bones of dogs were found dating back eight thousand years.  It's unlikely that wild dogs would have been preserved in such a fashion and this leads to the inevitable conclusion that the dogs were domesticated.  As these domesticated animals would have had to have earned their keep, it is probable that they would have been used in the herding of animals for food.

This is further suggested by the fact that the residents of Starr Carr were settled.  The hunter-gatherer lifestyle would have predicated a nomadic existence, as the hunters would have had to follow their prey wherever they went.  This means they would not have built the landing platforms on the edge of the lake which, at the time, existed there, nor would they have left so much evidence of their existence.  Of course, evidence of hunter-gatherers has existed - for instance, at Goldcliff on the Severn Estuary - but it is necessarily scant given both that they lived light on the land, and through the passage of time.  And hunting and gathering never truly died out, 'though nowadays it's largely a leisure pursuit rather than a vital necessity.

The Stone Age stretches back into pre-history some two million years.  About four thousand years ago, bronze was invented, an alloy of copper and tin.  Whilst copper was plentiful, tin is relatively rare, found in only a few places.  Portugal has tin deposits, but a major centre for tin was Cornwall.  It's likely, therefore, that bronze was made here first, ushering in the Bronze Age.

Unless one invents a time machine and meanders back however many thousands of years, the best we can ever hope for in the quest for the definitive version of events is to piece together the various fragments of evidence. 

Such evidence as provided by archaeology, first-hand accounts and the remains of individuals dated from the period in question are mixed with conjecture and wild and educated guesswork, elements of logic and modern scientific techniques.  Oftentimes, a healthy dose of bias is tossed into the mix and the result is way off the mark. We have great respect for the work of archaeologists who do know whereof they speak, though - especially when it corroborates our view of things. 

That said, it should also be mentioned that our view is not made of fairy-dust, nor do we take our mythology to be anything other than what it is meant to be.  We don't look at the tale of Gelert and look beyond a town's attempts at adding a sense of mystery, nor do we actually look for the stone from which King Arthur is reputed to have pulled the sword.  But neither do we believe the Kelts, so named here for sake of convenience - we never called ourselves thus - were only here from just shy of the beginning of the Iron age.  Indeed, we were here at least since the Ice Age, before Britain became an island; and neither did we import all the things which we, in modern Britain, take for granted.

We were farmers long before conventional history has it introduced to us by marauding warriors from the near east, we had culture thousands of years before the Romans were supposed to have civilised us, we may not have had writing - but think, writing is only deemed a mark of intelligence nowadays because it is almost universal; however, we had intelligence enough before that. 

Our life, in ancient Britain, was rich and complex; we had industry, we had skills, we had laws and much else which today we mostly think came from the Roman invasion, and even what we think of as thoroughly modern. With the coming of the Bronze Age we were better able to express our place in the Grand Scheme of Things but, even in the Stone Age, we built great monuments like Stonehenge, the Avebury complex and so many other testaments to our ingenuity. 

We achieved great feats of engineering, comparable with the likes of Brunel; indeed many thinkers are completely at a loss as to how such a thing could have been built.  And yet again, you see those self-same thinkers spouting beliefs that Stonehenge was imported wholesale from some supposedly civilised place and imposed upon our landscape, without even acknowledging even the merest possibility that it could have actually been a completely home-grown project. 

As descendents of the people who built it, we feel slandered.  And no, Beaker Folk - which is how these people are styled - are not some alien race who superceded ancient Britons and then succumbed to the superiority of the Kelts - no, it is all one line.  Neither did we all become Italian during the Roman period, German or Scandinavian during what's commonly described the Anglo-Saxon period or French after 1066.  We stayed largely as we were, and largely as we have been since before we became an island.

Incidentally, we don't, either, subscribe to the oft-vaunted notion that modern man had his origins in darkest Africa.  What archaeologists and their historical allies have done is look at the patterns of  funerary rites and deduced that this group of people do different things than that group of people; therefore they must be different.  But then someone does some things differently to their grandfathers, who did things differently from theirs and so on.  Fashions change.

If we extrapolate that to an archaeologically significant gap, then all of a sudden everyone's of a different culture. Of course, we all know the ancient Britons wrote very little, therefore that particular avenue is closed to us.  We are wise, too, to take with an ocean of salt anything Romans had to say; there is evidence that, when Julius Caesar made his aborted attempts at colonisation circa BC55, that he was beaten back by the fearless warriors of the time.  It is unlikely in this instance that any chronicler is going to be complimentary - indeed, the Romans call all in their paths savages and barbarians.  In AD43, though, the evidence is not so much of invasion but of being invited.  

According to Cassius Dio, King Verica of the Atrebates - who was on good terms with the Roman Empire - invited the Roman armies to sort out some local difficulties; his kingdom was under occupation by the Catuvellauni tribe to the north.  It's likely he was swept out of power (Roman annals have him fleeing to Rome where he became a supplicant before Claudius, and being replaced by one Cogidubnus).  The same is purported to have happened to Vortigern after the Romans left, who had the Saxon characters Hengist and Horsa come in and, again, help him with his little local difficulty.

Much of what we take for granted today - the British national dress, the suit, to the martial art of fighting with a quarterstaff, even putting coins in a wishing well - is all firmly rooted in our history.  Fairy tales tell stories which, were they not so veiled in the brightly-coloured apparel to which children are attracted, would reveal dark and sinister goings on - in the case of Little Red Riding Hood, which is essentially a tale about child prostitution - and, in the case of Snow White, secrets about the Ancient Ways. 

All these things, with the right kind of eyes, reveal themselves. The right kind of eyes are quite difficult to find.  The Troubadours of Albion are fortunate because we have several generations passed knowledge down mother to daughter, and this makes us aware. 

That archaeology is gradually finding in our favour is flattering, but even so that our version is not acknowledged as a waypoint to the truth, even with the archaeological, written, logical and circumstantial evidence, the research we've done over time and the insights we provide,  is frustrating.