The Rune Primer A Down-to-Earth Guide to Runes

Author: Sweyn Plowright
Publisher: Rune – Net
Published: 2006
ISBN: 9781847282460

Synopsis: Historical facts about the runes in plain English. This book looks at what we really know about them and how we know it. There is also a discussion of the popular authors of esoteric runology, and a chapter exposing the myths and misconceptions about runes perpetuated in many popular rune manuals. The Primer will provide you with a basic factual foundation of rune knowledge, and enable you to sort the useful gems from the rubbish in your future investigations.

Review: This book was a delight to read. Its aim is to discuss the runes in a brief and to the point style, to stick to known facts and established conventions taking into consideration the cultural and religious context. It fulfills those aims perfectly. The style of the writer is very simple and very readable. The simplicity is sometimes very deceptive because but the time you finish a chapter you’ve actually gotten quite a bit of information, but it was so simple it slipped into your mind with no effort.

The author gives you a very simple outline of the history of Runes, an explanation about where the names of the Elder Runes came from and how, and the different types of runes known. The book also provides the meanings for each rune and how the author got it, but what I loved the most were the chapters on known books and authors for runes and myth busting. I especially LOVED the myth busting chapter.

An excellent book to have if you are interested in Runes and it complements the book Runes by R.I. Page, because read together you get the maximum benefit with this book explaining simplistically the history in the Rune book.

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Runes (Reading the Past)

Series: Reading the Past
Author: R.I. Page
Publisher:University of California Press and the British Museum
Published: 2007 (Fifth edition, Originally published in 1987)

Synopsis: In Orkney, Shetland and the Scottish Islands, in Ireland, the Isle of Man and above all in Scandinavia, travelers still come upon great memorial stones, inscribed with the curious angular alphabet called runes. This is the story of these inscriptions from the earliest Continental carvings of the late second century A.D. through to the Viking age.

Review: This is one of the shortest books I’ve read, and one of the most sarcastic (not in a good way). The author comes across as very condescending towards people who see the Runes as a magical system. Let me say this, while I do agree with the author’s point that since religion is a part of everyday life for the peoples he talks about and so that makes using the Runic alphabet as a vehicle of writing down sacred things, incantations or even use it for divination a normal part of life for them, I don’t agree wit his attitude or tone of voice but that is my bias and certainly not his problem. Having said that though, this is actually a very good and concise introduction to Runes IF you can get over the tone of the writer. The 64 pages of this book took me two days to get through when it would normally take me only half an hour to an hour tops.

The Anthropology of Ireland

Authors: Thomas M. Wilson and Hastings Donnan
Publisher: Berg Publishers
Published: 2006
ISNB-13: 9781845202392

Synopsis:Where and what is Ireland? What are the identities of the people of Ireland? How has European Union policy shaped Irish people’s lives and interests? This book argues that such questions can be answered only by understanding everyday aspects of Irish culture and identity. Such understanding is acheived by paying close attention to what people in Ireland themselves say about the radical changes in their lives in the context of wider global transformation. As notions of sex, religion, and politics are radically reworked in an Ireland being re-imagined in ways inconceivable just a generation ago, anthropologists have been at the forefront of recording the results. The first comprehensive book-length introduction to anthropological research on the island as a whole considers the changing place in a changing Ireland of religion, sex , sport, race, dance, young people, the Travellers, St. Patrick’s Day and much more.

Review: The synopsis does a great job of telling you what this book is all about so I’m not going to say much more on that. What I am going to talk about is how I saw this book and what I took away from it.

The book starts with two interesting questions; who invented Ireland and who invented the anthropology of Ireland? The answer to the first question is the Irish, the English, and the people of the Irish diaspora. The answer to the second question is the developing traditions of American cultural anthropology, the developing traditions of the British social anthropology, developments in Irish Universities and centers of learning in Ireland, and developments in wider and sometimes dissident intellectual, scientific and technological domains. Those two questions answered so early on set the stage for me in a lot of ways. I knew I had to set aside a few of my feelings on the word invented and I knew I had to keep an open mind as to what the authors might be sharing.

The themes that run through out the book are also mentioned right at the beginning and they are: that the book is about the anthropology of Ireland, in contemporary and historical form; how Ireland has been constructed in anthropological writing and professional practice, and finally to contribute to the continuing importance of comparison and the exploration of diversity and difference.

The book was not an easy read but it was certainly a very interesting one. To see what shapes a certain field though out time is interesting but to see it also in a country is just astonishing. Some parts were boring I have to admit, but on the whole it was a good read. If you are interested in anthropology and the anthropology of Ireland then I would definitely recommend this book.

A View from the West: The Neolithic of the Irish Sea Zone

Author: Vicki Cummings

Publisher: Oxbow Books

Published: 2009

ISBN: 9781842173626

Synopsis: At the the heart of this study are the early Neolithic chambered tombs of the Irish Sea zone, defined as west Wales, the west coast of northern Britain, coastal south and western Scotland, the western isles and the Isle of Man, and the eastern coast of Ireland. In order to understand these monuments, there must be a broader consideration of their landscape settings. The landscape setting of the chambered tombs is considered in detail, both overall and through a number of specific case studies, incorporating a much wider area than has been previously considered. Cummings investigates the background against which the Neolithic began in the Irish Sea zone and what led to the adoption of Neolithic practices, such as the construction of monuments. Following on from this, she considers what the chambered tombs and landscape can add to our understanding of the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition. This volume aims to incorporate landscape analysis into a broader understanding of the Neolithic sequence in this area and beyond. It will provide an introduction to the Mesolithic and Neolithic of the Irish Sea zone, as well as a summary of previous work on this subject. It also offers a starting point for future research and a better understanding of this area.

Review: I REALLY loved this book.  The information on the chambered tombs was very interesting to read but that is not the only reason I loved this book.  Most books on archeology are very boring because they present the findings with no real background (unless the book was intended as a textbook or a read for the layman) but this book was really different.

The author has in every chapter an introduction and a conclusion.  The introduction tells you exactly what the author intends to write about in the chapter and the conclusion sums up all the important points of the chapter, so if you are looking for something specific you look thought the chapter introduction to see if this is the chapter you want and then look through the conclusion if you just want to read the important points without all the details.

The author’s writing style is very easy on the brain.  She explains things in very simple terms and she talks about the subject matter in a very detailed yet not boring way.  She talks about landscape archeology, she talks about the economy and the climate of the Neolithic Irish Sea Zone.  And from the very beginning she defines exactly what she means when she says Irish sea Zone.

This is a must have book for anyone interested in the Neolithic time frame, the chambered tombs and the interaction between either side of the Irish Sea.