BMEWS
 
When Sarah Palin booked a flight to Europe, the French immediately surrendered.

calendar   Monday - August 26, 2013

reader rabbit

Been busy here. On top of doing all the things that need doing every weekend, I’ve been stealing time to read three books at once. Still working on A Durable Peace. Gave Pratchett’s Unseen Academicals another go. And I’ve started on the most wonderful and rare little book about a very very old piece of English history and an interesting theory about it.

Sometimes people write a book because they have an idea they want to send out. Sometimes they write a book that has almost no target audience, and they pay to have a single print run done. I don’t know how many copies that entails. 100? 200? 50? But I know that I found reference to a certain book in several forums, that quite a number of people had heard about but no one had actually seen. So I set about finding a copy. The internet is chock full of book shops. New books, old books, second hand ones, super expensive ancient antique ones, you name it. And all these places had an entry for this particular book, but not one of them had any copies nor had a glimmer of hope of getting any more ever. And then I found a guy selling half a dozen or so copies, new, on eBay in the UK. Cheap. So now Peiper has a copy, and my copy arrived in the mail Friday. What with figuring out international shipping and all, I had a couple of emails back and forth with the seller. Who turned out to be the author. So my copy of this one and only printing, first edition, got autographed.

And it turns out to be highly readable. I wasn’t expecting that. I was expecting some scholarly work, done up in high falootin’ Ivy Tower phraseology, loaded down with cfs, untranslated Latin phrases, things in Fwench and other impossible tongues, and $20 words that even the best dictionaries have a hard time with. Surprise surprise, the author can actually write, and tells his story in a way normal folks can follow. Well done, that scrivener. To the best of my knowledge, unless he has another stash hidden away, there are about 6 new copies left in all the world for sale. The book can be found on the American eBay as well, same seller.



image




image Peiper and I trade books back and forth all the time. I’m sure he’s going to enjoy this one; after all, it’s the story of a local boy made good. And then made even better.

Alfred The Great was the king of Wessex. Wessex was the kingdom of the Gewisse , the West Saxons who wore those seax belt knives I wrote about a few posts back, who carved out a kingdom and brought a bit of peace and security to their corner of that Green and Pleasant Land in the darkest part of the Dark Ages after the fall of the Roman Empire. Eventually Alfred joined most of the island into one nation and fought off The Great Heathen Army, a massive invasion of Vikings.

The capital of Wessex was Winchester, right down the road from Peiper’s house, where some of the walls and buildings Alfred made still stand. And after that? Well as they say ...





image

King Arthur’s Round Table, Winchester Castle

Coming rather late to the party, Winchester Castle was built by William the Conqueror in 1067



... the rest is history. Or an approximation thereof. Which is what this book is all about.




PS - Astute truss fans will click the above link and then click the picture there for a really big version of the above picture, and will immediately notice that the roof is held up by a (horizontally braced) scissors truss. Pretty impressive and very modern for it’s day, considering that the hammerbeam truss was invented just around the corner, in Pilgrims Hall, albeit 240 years later ... which is mere yards from the little church of St. Swithun’s upon Kingsgate that Peiper visited and posted on here a couple years ago. St. Swithun is thought to have been Alfred’s tutor when he was a boy, though somehow across the centuries he has become the Punxsutawney Phil of Winchester. Go figure.

Neck deep in history, that corner of the world is. Lucky Peiper. 


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 08/26/2013 at 11:22 AM   
Filed Under: • Fun-StuffHistoryUK •  
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Not that very many people ever read this far down, but this blog was the creation of Allan Kelly and his friend Vilmar. Vilmar moved on to his own blog some time ago, and Allan ran this place alone until his sudden and unexpected death partway through 2006. We all miss him. A lot. Even though he is gone this site will always still be more than a little bit his. We who are left to carry on the BMEWS tradition owe him a great debt of gratitude, and we hope to be able to pay that back by following his last advice to us all:
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