Fornvännen's Winter Issue On-Line

The new version of a slab from the Kivik cairn. The new version of a slab from the Kivik cairn.

Fornvännen 2015:1 is now on-line on Open Access.

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Fornvännen 2016:1 is now on-line on Open Access. Anton Seiler on a weapon grave with fragments of a Vendel helmet found at Inhåleskullen near Uppsala. Some of the metalwork is interestingly decorated in Salin's Style III/E and must be late additions to the assemblage. Rune Edberg and Johnny…
I once produced a small shell midden in my kitchen. Just now I made a small clearance cairn in the garden. My wife has ordered a peony bush from Gansu in China via a plant dealer in Turku, Finland, and I picked it up at a trucking firm the other day. Now it fell upon me to dig the hole and plant…
Finland has a lot of cairns, usually sitting on hill tops near the sea. Unlike a mound, the cairn consists only of stones, and so it lets rain water percolate through. This messes up the contents of the cairn. Bones and burial goods are rarely preserved, and it seems that the ancient Finns didn't…
As an undergrad and PhD student in the 90s I heard a lot of rumours about the 1988-93 excavation of Gullhögen, a barrow in Husby-Långhundra parish between Stockholm and Uppsala. These rumours held that the barrow was pretty weird: built out of charcoal (!), unusually rich, and sitting on top of…

The only paper in which I think I don't understand everything is the one on the carved slabs of the Kivik burial claim - maybe not surprising because it is mostly in Swedish, but with some helpful English notes to the illustrations. Plus I did not know the history of interpretation prior to the latest enlightenment.

I don't get what that spiky animal was. It seems unlikely someone would hunt hedgehogs by horse-drawn chariot.

By John Massey (not verified) on 29 Oct 2015 #permalink

Although I did once lie to my poor little daughter when she was a little kid, and told her that an Australian stockman's whip was for taming wild rabbits - when she asked "How?" I gave her an elaborate explanation of how you hold the wild rabbit at bay with an upright chair in one hand while you thrash the rabbit with the whip in the other. Her eyes got very big at the idea of savage wild rabbits flogged by a rather lethal looking whip that is intended to crack on the flanks of cattle or sheep when they are being herded from horseback.

I felt so bad about that and her implicit trust in me, that I never lied to her again, about anything.

By John Massey (not verified) on 29 Oct 2015 #permalink

You're not alone in finding that spiky beast difficult to interpret. To my knowledge there are no good parallels.

"Inger Jans et al. on the last users of runes in the unbroken tradition from the Iron Age on – around 1910!"

It's a shame the tradition died out. Sure, people can still read runes, but it's not an unbroken tradition.

By Phillip Helbig (not verified) on 29 Oct 2015 #permalink

John@2: If you are familiar with the Discworld series, then you will have heard of the concept of "lies-to-children". You are quite right that they need to be used sparingly, but there are times when it's appropriate.

My parents used to tell us tall tales when my siblings and I were kids. Some of them were more obviously ridiculous than others.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 29 Oct 2015 #permalink

Eric @5: You'd be amazed at what is obviously a joke to adults and clearly factual to children.
My dad told a great story about having to walk home from school during one of the epic Chicago blizzards of the '60s. At one point in the story he and his brother are walking down the middle of the street. I asked "why?", because I had been taught that you never walk in the street. "So we could run away from the polar bears."

I believed him for *years*, because everything else about the story (the school bus that got stuck at a house where they only had Red Vines to eat) was outrageous and true.

By JustaTech (not verified) on 29 Oct 2015 #permalink

I'm with JT. My father told me a lot of totally outrageous nonsense. He was notorious for pulling jokes on people with a completely dead-pan face. But, foolishly, I trusted him, and he responded by telling me the most ridiculous bullshit you can imagine. Which of course I went to school and repeated, thereby compounding my own credulous foolishness.

My father had fads on making things, and once he came home with a loom, for weaving things. This fad lasted long enough that he wove enough Scottish tartan woollen scarves to give to all of our friends, who had to pretend they liked them. When he first brought the loom home, it was all in pieces, and when I asked him what it was, he said "It's a wigwam for a goose's bridle." We were poor and didn't have much, and other kids' Dads had all kinds of cool stuff, and I had nothing to boast about, but I had never heard of any of them having one of these,so I went to school and proudly told everyone "My Dad's got a wigwam for a goose's bridle." And everyone stared at me as if I was nuts. How to humiliate your own kid.

But then he nearly killed his own father, so...his father used to rake up all the dead gum leaves on the lawn that had fallen from the eucalyptus trees and put them into an incinerator and set fire to them, and then sit by the incinerator and puff on his pipe while he watched the gum leaves burn. Because gum leaves give off a heavenly scent when they burn (and are superb for barbecuing meat over, if you ever get the chance), and Grandpa was a firebug. So my father got a gum nut, which is shaped like a small bell, hollow inside. And he scraped the red stuff off the ends of a few hundred match sticks and compacted the red stuff into the gum nut. And he planted it in the incinerator. The next time Grandpa lit the incinerator and sat there watching it puffing on his pipe, the gum nut bomb exploded and demolished the incinerator. Grandpa was found sitting frozen in a state of shock in his chair, pipe in mouth, with his eyebrows singed off; fortunately none of the flying debris from the incinerator had hit him.

But no one felt sorry for Grandpa, because he was just as bad.

I swore I would not lie to my kid, and I only did it once. Shame prevented me from ever doing it again. I obviously have a genetic mutation not carried by my father and grandfather - I have the shame/guilt gene when I tell ridiculous lies.

Polar bears in Chicago, huh? That was a pretty good one. (I had to look up what Red Vines are - yeah, we have red dyed licorice, but the names are all different.)

By John Massey (not verified) on 29 Oct 2015 #permalink

John,
I'm pretty sure when my dad told me that story he didn't expect me to believe the bit about the polar bears. I was a pretty bright kid and very into animals at the time, so he probably figured that I would know that polar bears don't roam *that* far south.

As for Red Vines, they're not my favorite brand of red licorice, but at least they don't actually taste like licorice. Yuck.

By JustaTech (not verified) on 30 Oct 2015 #permalink

As a kid, I adored the taste of licorice (the black stuff). We had two domestic brands of licorice-as-candy, and they both produced a variety of products that were all just basically black coloured licorice. One was called Giant and the other one was called...are you ready for this!...I'm not lying to you...it was called Nigger Boy. Needless to say that brand name has since disappeared, but when I was a kid, my very favourite was Nigger Boy licorice.

Every year we would have the Royal Agricultural Show, where the local manufacturers of sweets (candy) and biscuits (cookies) would sell sample bags of their merchandise which were stuffed full of their stuff and cheap/good value for money.

So every year I would go to the Show, and among my sample bags I would always have to get one Giant bag and one Nigger Boy bag.

Then for the next two days I would make a pig of myself eating licorice, the predictable outcome of which was always a massive bout of black diarrhoea (diarrhea).

By John Massey (not verified) on 31 Oct 2015 #permalink

Did I realise at the time that the branding of Nigger Boy licorice was (deeply) offensive? Yes, of course I did. The product always carried a cartoon caricature of an African kid grinning delightedly, with big white teeth and was self-evidently insensitive, at the very least.

But I was so enamoured of the product (Nigger Boy was definitely superior to Giant) that I was very reluctant to boycott it. There were no Africans in Australia to raise any objection (Aboriginal people in those days were not called Niggers, although sadly they are now - they were subjected to a variety of racial epithets - Abos, Boongs, etc., but not Niggers - that was reserved for Africans or African Americans), and no one else cared.

I don't know quite when that branding vanished - I guess some time after I had grown out of eating sweets/lollies/candy. Certainly by the time I was an adult, it was long gone.

Imagine my astonishment when I came to Hong Kong in 1978 and discovered that everyone's favourite toothpaste was called Darkie, which carried a cartoon caricature of a grinning African American man wearing a top hat, with big white teeth. It became my favourite too, because the tubes still carried the old fashioned bakelite screw-on caps, and it was very nice tasting toothpaste. That since has also disappeared, in that it has been renamed Darlie, and the cartoon caricature has disappeared from the packet. But that took a while - that only changed in the 1990s. HK tends to lag on stuff like race sensitivity. (Everyone still happily addresses me as a Foreign Devil.) (And I don't mind.) It's still my favourite toothpaste, although the retro bakelite screw-on cap has gone.

By John Massey (not verified) on 31 Oct 2015 #permalink

I'm probably too young to remember most of the seriously racially offensive brand names in the US. There was still a brand of pancake syrup called Aunt Jemima, but that's a subtle one--you actually have to know more of US racial history than most kids (and many American adults) do to catch the undertones.

The one case where I do remember a brand name changing due to unfortunate implications of the old brand name: There was a breakfast cereal called Super Sugar Crisp, which was promoted on TV with ads featuring a cartoon mascot called Sugar Bear. (My parents never bought it, for the obvious reason.) You can still buy this product in the US, and it still has the Sugar Bear mascot, but at some point its name was changed to Super Golden Crisp. The former product name may have helped inspire Bill Watterson to call Calvin's favorite breakfast cereal Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs. (There were other cereals called Count Chocula, Cocoa Puffs, and Frosted Flakes--the last used to identify the frosting as being sugar, but no longer does in packages I have seen).

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 31 Oct 2015 #permalink

Sweden had its share of outlandish brand names too, but I am too young to recall most of them. the one exception is chocolate balls, previously named negerbollar (negro, in this case being the spanish word for black).
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(OT) Fire Island (Shetland) ; Europe’s largest fire festival features Vikings, ninjas, and men in dresses http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/roads/2015/10/viking_ni…

By Birger Johansson (not verified) on 31 Oct 2015 #permalink

Pretty sure you can still get Aunt Jemima's - my daughter bought a bottle of that just a couple of years ago.
Some people dislike the name of our Coon Cheese, but that one's still limping on.

Anyway, back to the spiky animal - looks like a bird until you look at the rubbings when it starts looking like a fish....

By Craig Thomas (not verified) on 03 Nov 2015 #permalink

Yeah, I recall seeing Aunt Jemima's pancake mix not long ago. I think it is still extant, despite having some apparently offensive connotation.

Coon cheese was named after Edward Coon, the guy who invented the process to make it, and has no racial connotation. I don't see why anyone should take issue with it. It is also famous in connection to the physical anthropologist Carleton Coon, who would be considered a racist today. But then so would Charles Darwin.

By John Massey (not verified) on 03 Nov 2015 #permalink

Jag gillar Kiviksrapporten. Uppskattad i Fornfynd Skåne på FB.

By Thomas Ivarsson (not verified) on 10 Nov 2015 #permalink