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General >> Project Goliath - The History of The Sling >> Slings in Irish legend
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Message started by David Morningstar on Mar 28th, 2009 at 11:23am

Title: Slings in Irish legend
Post by David Morningstar on Mar 28th, 2009 at 11:23am
http://ftp.fortunaty.net/text/sacred-texts/neu/celt/mlcr/mlcr05.htm

Do a Ctrl-F seach on this page for all the many sling references. I particularly like this one:

"The tale of the death of Queen Maev is also preserved by Keating. Fergus mac Roy having been slain by Ailell with a cast of a spear as he bathed in a lake with Maev, and Ailell having been slain by Conall, Macv retired to an island on Loch Ryve, where she was wont to bathe early every morning in a pool near to the landing place.

Forbay son of Conor mac Nessa, having discovered this habit of the queen's, found means one day to go unperceived to the pool and to measure the distance from it to the shore of the mainland. Then he went back to Emania,where he measured out the distance thus obtained, and placing an apple on a pole at one end he shot at it continually with a sling until he grew so good a marksman at that distance that he never missed his aim.

Then one day, watching his opportunity by the shores of Loch Ryve, he saw Maev enter the water, and putting a bullet in his sling he shot at her with so good an aim that he smote her in the centre of the forehead and she fell dead."

Title: Re: Slings in Irish legend
Post by Thearos on Mar 30th, 2009 at 10:21pm
One of these legends (Cuchulain killing the giant with a sling) might be represented in the French graphic novel Bran Ruz (Auclair and Deschamps)

Title: Re: Slings in Irish legend
Post by slingbadger on Apr 1st, 2009 at 4:23pm
The Irish seem to be the one group of people who seem to love slings. Al the heroes were trained in and carried slings. Stories of slinging in chariots  are in the Tain.
 I really don't give credence to the tathlum though. These were supposed to be sling ammo made by soaking the brains of your enemies in lime. What would happen is that they would shrink and harden to s stone like consistency.
 There is one story of a Fergus who got hit in the head with a tathlum so hard it got stuck, and could not be removed. For the rest of his life he has to live with it.

Title: Re: Slings in Irish legend
Post by David Morningstar on Aug 4th, 2009 at 7:53am
More Irish slings:

http://books.google.com/books?id=ZrFMHmsMmWAC&lpg=PA36&dq=sling%20stone&lr=&as_brr=3&pg=PA36#v=onepage&q=sling%20stone&f=false


Title: Re: Slings in Irish legend
Post by thabaill on Jul 9th, 2011 at 7:03pm
Hello

I am very interested in which type of sling was used in times of Cuchulainn and Conchobar.

Is there archeologycal remains?

I think that like Celts love braided motifs and interlace decoration, perhaps their slings ("thabaill" in Old Irish) were similar to the ones used in Spain.

Greetings

Title: Re: Slings in Irish legend
Post by thabaill on Jul 9th, 2011 at 7:14pm
Two examples of today Spanish slings. Perhaps the slings used by the Irish warriors in the Táin Bó Cúailnge were quite similar.





Best regards.


Title: Re: Slings in Irish legend
Post by bigkahuna on Jul 9th, 2011 at 8:20pm
At the archeological site in New Grange there are many small round balls which are not identified but sure look like sling ammo to me.

Title: Re: Slings in Irish legend
Post by thabaill on Jul 11th, 2011 at 8:23am
Hello Bigkahuna

I read that the British isles are covered of ancient sling projectiles. But I never find something about the type of slings used.

Greetings.

Title: Re: Slings in Irish legend
Post by Eoraptor on Jul 11th, 2011 at 1:12pm
I read The Tain some years ago, and I remember the part that really stuck in my head was when Cu Chulainn was stalking Queen Maev's army and picking soldiers off in the dead of night with pinpoint accuracy even though the army had extinguished all their fires.  No one, including me, had any idea how he was doing it, and later in the book when his friend questioned him about it, he responded "No mortal can extinguish the stars." (or something to the effect, I didn't look up the exact quote).  He had been hiding in low ground and picking off soldiers when they were silhouetted against the stars!  Myth or not, that bit inspired me as much as anything has.

Also there was a bit at the beginning, when Cu Chulainn started teaching himself to fight (he was crazy young, seven I think) he insisted that he learn all weapons.  He was discouraged from using the sling, as it was not a weapon worthy of his rank, but he used it anyway insisting that it took skill to sling and that he wanted to be able to use every weapon.  There were certainly some who looked down their noses at slings, but perhaps not so much as elsewhere.

I also remember seeing an illustration of Cu Chulainn using a sling with a netted pouch, but I think the drawing was modern, so there’s not telling if its accurate or not.

Title: Re: Slings in Irish legend
Post by thabaill on Jul 19th, 2011 at 7:56am
Hello

I remember the death of Foill, one of the sons of Nechtan.

http://seanchaidh.tripod.com/cuchulain.htm

This time Cuchulainn used an iron ball in his sling, so this make me thing that the sling wouldn't be a simple strap of leather pouch with two thong attached, because a ball falls easily when hurling if the pouch hasn't a slit.

I think that when the ancient Irish warriors deserve a high position to this weapon it cannot be a simple strap with two tongs. I think that it construction must be much elaborated, such braided or knitted.

But it is only my thought, I have no actual evidence.

Best regards.

Title: Re: Slings in Irish legend
Post by _kava_ on Jul 24th, 2011 at 10:39pm
was browsing the local bookshop and came across this title; first page I opened to metioned slings!
the universe does indeed work in mysterious ways  ;)


IMAG0027.jpg (333 KB | )

Title: Re: Slings in Irish legend
Post by _kava_ on Jul 24th, 2011 at 10:40pm
the text:
IMAG0026.jpg (272 KB | )

Title: Re: Slings in Irish legend
Post by slingbadger on Jul 25th, 2011 at 6:26am
In the "Heroic Age" that the Tain is set in, all the Irish warriors had at least some training  with the sling.

Title: Re: Slings in Irish legend
Post by thabaill on Aug 1st, 2011 at 9:21am
Hello I don't remember what I was looking for, but a few days ago I found this.


Quote:
Fuera de Baleares, la historia moderna de la honda es similar. Se ha venido utilizando principalmente por los pastores hasta comienzos de este siglo. En las sierras del Sistema Central, principalmente en las de Gredos, Gata y Peña de Francia, se han empleado hondas confeccionadas en tira de cuero hasta mitad del siglo XX, como probablemente eran las hondas de los pastores celtas españoles de otros tiempos que habitaban en estas sierras.

http://perso.wanadoo.es/hondero/NUESTROSDIASe.pdf


Out from Balearic Islands, the modern history of the sling is similar. It was used mainly by the shepherds until the beginning of this Century. In the highlands of the Sistema Central (Central Mountain Range), mainly in the ones of Gredos, Gata and Peña de Francia, there were used slings made of leather strip until the middle 20th Century, as likely were the slings of the Spanish Celts from other times that inhabited this highlands.


Title: Re: Slings in Irish legend
Post by winkleried on Sep 12th, 2011 at 12:32pm
Not from that time period. However in the early Medieval Period, there were 3 leather artifacts excavated in Dublin.
If i don't get more information posted in a couple of days Slingbadger can also give the information.

Marc Adkins


thabaill wrote on Jul 9th, 2011 at 7:03pm:
Hello

I am very interested in which type of sling was used in times of Cuchulainn and Conchobar.

Is there archeologycal remains?

I think that like Celts love braided motifs and interlace decoration, perhaps their slings ("thabaill" in Old Irish) were similar to the ones used in Spain.

Greetings


Title: Re: Slings in Irish legend
Post by slingbadger on Sep 14th, 2011 at 4:16pm
OK, 3 objects identified as sling pouches are currently at the National Museum of Ireland. They were identified by a Dr, Andy Halpin. who works in the Irish Antiquities Division.
 Basically, they are elongated leather diamonds, about 10 cm long. Each one has a hole at each end, although one has had the end torn off. One is plain, one has 4 vertical slashes on it. The last has 6 longer vertical slashes on it.
 Their numbers  are E 180:7033  E190:6006  E:7007
 They were found in Dublin, in an area called Southgate and Fishamble st, and date to the 10-11th cent.

There are 5 other sites in Britain that yield similar types of finds, yet not all of the people there are ready to call them sling pouches. All are about 10 cm and have the diamond pattern, some with a hole broken through. All seem to be associated with Anglo Saxon sites.  If anyone would like a list of the other sites, I'll send you what I have.

 Also, from the Fenian Cycle, Battle of Ventry
 " And 2 Foreigners were set against them that day. And Conncrither siezed his long sided sling (an tabhaill) and put a straight even stone in it, and gave a straight well directed cast, so that it went into the forehead of his adversary, and took the brain out as a lump of blood out the back of his head."
  I think it's a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the idea.

Title: Re: Slings in Irish legend
Post by thabaill on Dec 17th, 2011 at 6:15pm
Hi Slingbadger

Do you have pictures of that slings? It would be great to recreate them.

However it seems that all those artifacts could have a Viking-Anglo Saxon Medieval origin not Ancient Celtic.

Best regards.


Title: Re: Slings in Irish legend
Post by slingbadger on Jan 9th, 2012 at 6:45am
Before the puny humans were in Ireland, there were races of God like beings. Two of them were the Fomors, a race of giants, and the Tuatha de Dannan, the beings that became the Irish gods.
 Of course there was a war over the land. The Fomors had a giant named Balor, with one eye. He had to have someone lift his lid, but when his eye was open, he killed anything he looked at. Basically an unstoppable weapon.
Lugh stepped forward, while the eye was only half open, loaded a tathlum into his sling, and hit Balor in the eye so hard he drove the eye out the back of his head. The eye, which was still potent, looked upon the Fomor army and killed them.
 The text
" A tathlum, heavy fiery firm
 which the Tuatha de Dannan had with them
 It was that broke the fierce Balor's eye
 Of old, in the battle of the great armies."

 The Battle of Moytura

Title: Re: Slings in Irish legend
Post by thabaill on Jan 9th, 2012 at 7:54am
Here is the complete history: http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/celt/cml/cml13.htm

Please, do you have pictures of the sling pouches found in Ireland? Or is there a link where I could see the design?

I only can find this.


winkleried wrote on Nov 23rd, 2008 at 1:27pm:
How about this one? If I understand correctly it's based off of the Dublin artifacts.

Marc Adkins




winkleried wrote on May 19th, 2009 at 9:53pm:
Here's one a friend of mine just sent me. This is 3 historic slings I made and entered into a SCA Arts and Science Competition in November I belive. From L to R Hededby Sling, Randers Sling, and the Dublin Sling. The theme was Viking Equipment .

Marc Adkins


I find in the first pouch a very strange attachment to the cords in the pouch. And the second I cannot see it very well.

Thank you very much, and happy new year.



Title: Re: Slings in Irish legend
Post by thabaill on Jan 14th, 2012 at 4:52pm

Fig. 5.—Sling-Stone, from Aberdeenshire

http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Popular_Science_Monthly/Volume_2/January_1873/Art_in_the_Stone_Age

http://collections.glasgowmuseums.com/starobject.html?oid=145683

Very strange shape for a sling stone.

I wonder if there are any tathlum or brain mixed with lime as an archaeological find.

There is a river-ford in Westmeath called Athnurchar (The Ford of the Sing-cast).

http://books.google.es/books?id=4CUS2j5fw-QC&pg=PA240&lpg=PA240&dq=athnurchar&source=bl&ots=rB_P8aMOV2&sig=PBTNsLoCjAtKQFTPbgAn27-jXUA&hl=es

Greetings.

Title: Re: Slings in Irish legend
Post by wanderer on Jan 16th, 2012 at 1:38am

thabaill wrote on Jan 14th, 2012 at 4:52pm:

Fig. 5.—Sling-Stone, from Aberdeenshire

http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Popular_Science_Monthly/Volume_2/January_1873/Art_in_the_Stone_Age

http://collections.glasgowmuseums.com/starobject.html?oid=145683

Very strange shape for a sling stone.

I wonder if there are any tathlum or brain mixed with lime as an archaeological find.

There is a river-ford in Westmeath called Athnurchar (The Ford of the Sing-cast).

http://books.google.es/books?id=4CUS2j5fw-QC&pg=PA240&lpg=PA240&dq=athnurchar&source=bl&ots=rB_P8aMOV2&sig=PBTNsLoCjAtKQFTPbgAn27-jXUA&hl=es

Greetings.

I don't think many nowadays believe these carved balls were actually slingstones. They are quite beautifully carved, and are also quite large for a slingstone. I missed a talk on these at the local museum a few months ago, but I don't think anyone has yet come up with a really convincing explanation of what they were used for. One of the mysteries of Scotland :)

Title: Re: Slings in Irish legend
Post by thabaill on Jan 21st, 2012 at 8:05am
Hi

I agree. It is a very strange shape for a sling projectile. I think that a ball or lemon shape would be more aerodynamic and much better as a weapon.

And they are very beautifully carved so perhaps has a ritualistic purpose.

Greetings.

Title: Re: Slings in Irish legend
Post by kentuckythrower on Jan 31st, 2012 at 1:28pm
I just finished a course in Celtic literature this past fall and noticed how the Irish loved the sling. It seemed like all their heroes were expert slingers. Outside the Celts, I know of no other culture that reference the sling in their literature quite as much as they do.

Title: Re: Slings in Irish legend
Post by thabaill on Nov 21st, 2018 at 10:23am

Quote:
Out from Balearic Islands, the modern history of the sling is similar. It was used mainly by the shepherds until the beginning of this Century. In the highlands of the Sistema Central (Central Mountain Range), mainly in the ones of Gredos, Gata and Peña de Francia, there were used slings made of leather strip until the middle 20th Century, as likely were the slings of the Spanish Celts from other times that inhabited this highlands.


Finally I have found yesterday some photos of that type of sling made of one leather strap. This one is from Badajoz. Not far from the highlands mentioned above.

Overall lenght: 115 cm, widest: 6.5 cm











https://imgur.com/a/KTMrMVb

https://www.todocoleccion.net/antiguedades/antigua-honda-para-lanzar-piedras-animales-o-para-caza~x128975399

Title: Re: Slings in Irish legend
Post by slingbadger on Nov 22nd, 2018 at 6:39am
Thabaill, here is the sling that was on display when I was there. I know it sucks, but shooting through glass isn't the best.

DSC00141_0018.jpg (5976 KB | 40 )

Title: Re: Slings in Irish legend
Post by joe_meadmaker on Nov 22nd, 2018 at 10:42am
That one-piece leather sling looks fantastic.  I tried doing this once but it didn't turn out anywhere near that nice.  It also didn't seem to work very well for me.  Granted, I was really terrible with a sling at the time.  Still am, but not as bad ;)

Just estimating from the picture, it looks like the release and retention cords (are they still called that in a one piece?) are around 2 cm wide for most of their length.  Has anyone used a sling with wide cords like this?  Does this make the sling better suited for certain styles?

Title: Re: Slings in Irish legend
Post by thabaill on Nov 23rd, 2018 at 8:55am
Hi Slingbadger. Thank you very much.

About what period is that sling?

Hi Joe

This is an offtopic by my side:

You can see that type of leather strap sling at the begining in the movie "Entre Lobos". The kids cast no stone, but it seems it must work like any other sling.

https://youtu.be/yrL5iMmIMUA?t=149

That type of sling has been used since a while ago!
https://i1.wp.com/www.archivoshistoria.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Batalla-de-N%C3%A1jera-Froissart.jpg?fit=1600%2C1399&ssl=1

But until recently I have had not the oportunity to see one in detail.

Title: Re: Slings in Irish legend
Post by slingbadger on Nov 24th, 2018 at 6:44am
It was found in Viking age Dublin, so 10-11th cent.

Title: Re: Slings in Irish legend
Post by thabaill on Jan 4th, 2020 at 11:24am
Dia daoibh.

I have found this:



In this wondeful book:

https://books.google.es/books?id=ZrFMHmsMmWAC&lpg=PA35&dq=teilm&hl=es&pg=PA35#v=onepage&q=teilm&f=false

But I would like to know the date of the high cross in which it is carved.

Slán!

Title: Re: Slings in Irish legend
Post by Slyngorm on Mar 10th, 2020 at 6:42am
I know a comic that depicts an Irish hero using a sling
1645A816-AFA2-4BD9-8412-1F62BC2B9561.jpeg (1148 KB | 3 )
C40D990A-B107-4882-B899-BBC9E8964151.jpeg (1110 KB | 3 )

Title: Re: Slings in Irish legend
Post by Slyngorm on Mar 10th, 2020 at 9:36am

slingbadger wrote on Jan 9th, 2012 at 6:45am:
The Fomors had a giant named Balor, with one eye. He had to have someone lift his lid, but when his eye was open, he killed anything he looked at. Basically an unstoppable weapon.
Lugh stepped forward, while the eye was only half open, loaded a tathlum into his sling, and hit Balor in the eye so hard he drove the eye out the back of his head. The eye, which was still potent, looked upon the Fomor army and killed them.

Title: Re: Slings in Irish legend
Post by Lámhfada on Mar 10th, 2020 at 12:37pm
Haha crazy this is the last message posted before I registered.

To continue your story, from that day on, Lugh was known as 'Lugh Lámhfada', meaning 'Lugh of the Long Arm'

Title: Re: Slings in Irish legend
Post by Kick on Mar 10th, 2020 at 12:51pm
Welcome from Finland! So is "Lámhfada" a reference to the sling, as in, a sling extends the length of your arm?

Title: Re: Slings in Irish legend
Post by Lámhfada on Mar 10th, 2020 at 1:07pm
Yep, that's how I read it, Kick.

It's one of a bunch of poetical names given to Lugh, and can be interpreted different ways. Wikipedia says, ""of the long arm," possibly for his skill with a spear or his ability as a ruler)", but I prefer the slinging interpretation.

Title: Re: Slings in Irish legend
Post by Kick on Mar 10th, 2020 at 1:11pm
It would certainly make sense :D

Title: Re: Slings in Irish legend
Post by Lámhfada on Mar 11th, 2020 at 7:43pm
From A Smaller Social History of Ireland by Patrick Weston Joyce:

"Sling and Sling-stones.—A much more effective instrument for stone-throwing was the sling, which is constantly mentioned in the Tales of the Táin, as well as in Cormac's Glossary and other authorities, in such a way as to show that it formed an important item in the offensive arms of a warrior. The accounts, in the old writings, of the dexterity and fatal precision with which Cuculainn and other heroes flung their sling-stones, remind us of the Scriptural record of the 700 chosen warriors of Gibeah who could fight with left and right hand alike, and who flung their sling-stones with such aim that they could hit even a hair, and not miss by the stone's going on either side (Judges xx. 16).

The Irish used two kinds of sling. One, which was called by two names teilm and taball [tellim taval] consisted of two thongs attached to a piece of leather at bottom to hold the stone or other missile: a form of sling which was common all over the world, and which continues to be used by boys to this day. The other was called crann-tabaill, i.e. 'wood-sling' or 'staff-sling,' from crann, 'a tree, a staff, a piece of wood of any kind'; which indicates that the sling so designated was formed of a long staff of wood with one or two thongs—like the slings we read of as used by many other ancient nations. David killed Goliath with a staff-sling. Those who carried a sling kept a supply of round stones, sometimes artificially formed. Numerous sling-stones have been found from time to time—many perfectly round—in raths and crannoges, some the size of a small plum, some as large as an orange, of which many specimens are preserved in museums."

Title: Re: Slings in Irish legend
Post by Lámhfada on Mar 11th, 2020 at 9:50pm
From Irish Fairy Tales by James Stephens [1920]:

"No youngster is any good with a sword," Conan replied.

"You are right there," said Cairell. "It takes a good ripe man for that weapon."

"Boys are good enough with slings," Confro continued, "but except for eating their fill and running away from a fight, you can't count on boys."

Title: Re: Slings in Irish legend
Post by Lámhfada on Mar 11th, 2020 at 9:54pm
Lots of slinging action in The High Deeds of Finn and other Bardic Romances of Ancient Ireland, by T. W. Rolleston.

"But ere Conall buried the head of Mesgedra he caused the brain to be taken out and mixed with lime to make a bullet for a sling, for so it was customary to do when a great warrior had been killed; and the brain-balls thus made were accounted to be the deadliest of missiles."

"hen Ket leaped up, whirling his sling, and the bullet hummed across the river and smote King Conor on the temple. And his men carried him off for dead, and the men of Connacht broke the battle on the Ulstermen, slaying many, and driving the rest of them back to their own place. This battle was thenceforth called the Battle of the Ford of the Sling-cast, or Athnurchar; and so the place is called to this day."

"So they took him into the wild woods on the Slieve Bloom Mountains, and there they trained him to hunt and fish and to throw the spear, and he grew strong, and as beautiful as a child of the Fairy Folk. If he were in the same field with a hare he could run so that the hare could never leave the field, for Demna was always before it. He could run down and slay a stag with no dogs to help him, and he could kill a wild duck on the wing with a stone from his sling."

Title: Re: Slings in Irish legend
Post by Kick on Mar 12th, 2020 at 3:50am
The "brain balls" have come up a few times on the forum. It's fascinating really because it's both fantastical but also seemingly quite specific. Here's the main thread where it was discussed:

http://slinging.org/forum/YaBB.pl?num=1529864510

Title: Re: Slings in Irish legend
Post by Thearos on Mar 19th, 2020 at 4:05pm
What is the sling if not a long arm ?

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