Two pieces of news this week. The first is that the proposals made in the Welsh National Assembly referendum were approved in a vote held on Thursday, 3 March 2011. Since devolution back in 1997, the Welsh National Assembly has been allowed to create laws for those areas that were devolved, but those laws could come into effect only after being approved by the government in Westminster. With the success of the referendum, it will no longer be necessary to first get Westminster approval before enacting laws and statutes passed by the Welsh National Assembly. Read more at the Guardian and Sky, and for a wealth of resources on the entire issue, visit the BBC.
The second news item concerns Shakespeare’s Hamlet. An academic at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland has recently suggested that the tale of Hamlet is not Danish in origin at all, but rather is Irish! Read more at the Guardian. Further articles (some with additional resources) can be found at CBS News, Press and Journal, the Irish Times, Irish Central, PhysOrg.com, and the Copenhagen Post, among other sites.
While on the theme of literature, it’s well-known by those who like Tolkien that he was a scholar of the Old English and Old Norse languages and literature, and that these respective literatures greatly influenced his own writings. One of his lesser known works, which I had never heard of until coming across a blog post about it, really exudes that old Germanic essence. And what can be more Germanic than the ancient runes? For those with a heavy interest in the runes it should come as good news that apparently as of this past December there is an international journal for runic studies called Futhark (the name used nowadays to refer to the ancient runic alphabet).
Speaking of Old English and Old Norse, I found an interesting article on Old Norse words used in Scottish Gaelic. Those who like that article probably will also find an article on the origin of the word Easter intriguing as well. Once you know the origin of Easter, you might as well learn about the other Anglo-Saxon word roots in modern English. Many of those same roots also appear, and in some ways to an even greater extent, in modern Scots. In the upcoming census in Scotland, for the first time ever there will be a question asking each individual whether he/she speaks Scots. This has gotten people reflecting on the role and significance of language in Scotland.
Yesterday I came across a site with a brief history of Visigoths, Vandals, Anglo-Saxons as well as the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms and the Danes, and I stumbled upon a fascinating article on, of all things, Anglo-Saxon tinderboxes. And just today there was an article in the Gazette & Herald about a find in September of an Anglo-Saxon gold pommel in a field in Cricklade, England.
We shouldn’t forget about Vikings. I found an awesome article about the Vikings and the sea. That Viking spirit is still alive and well, naturally so among modern Icelanders, but even as far afield as Tuscon, Arizona, where there is an active Norse Federation. In Scotland, old Viking traditions and holidays are still celebrated, such as Up-Helly-Aa. If you find yourself attending any such event, you might want to don some Viking garb.