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General >> Project Goliath - The History of The Sling >> Anglo-Saxon Sling Riddle
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Message started by StaffSlinger on Mar 20th, 2022 at 5:18pm

Title: Anglo-Saxon Sling Riddle
Post by StaffSlinger on Mar 20th, 2022 at 5:18pm
One of my on-going projects is research into  the Anglo-Saxon era in the UK -- 450AD to 1066AD.  I "know that the A-S used slings, and knew that sling pouches had been found in Jorvik (Viking era York), but hadn't seen a written reference until this:

St. Aldhelm (639-709) collected riddles (one of the favorite entertainments of Anglo-Saxon time) in a book of 100 riddles called the Aenigmata, in Latin. The answers tend to be objects that would be familiar to the Anglo-Saxons, so the inclusion of the sling is particularly interesting:

" The flax plant, blooming fair in level fields
    And a bull's hide, gave me my origin .
    Two bonds of twisted cord restrain my leap
    And thus long since I slaughtered with a weight
    A mighty tyrant, when the marshaled host
    Was bent on cruel war; for I prefer
     To win my battles with a smooth round stone
    Rather than with hard iron headed pikes.
     Three fingers whirl me high about the head;
      I turn, and dart away into thin air. "

What am I?   A sling.

Interesting that it describes what must have been the common construction materials -- Flax (raw linen) and bullhide.

Title: Re: Anglo-Saxon Sling Riddle
Post by Jaegoor on Mar 20th, 2022 at 5:27pm
that's exciting. Do you have original T?

Title: Re: Anglo-Saxon Sling Riddle
Post by StaffSlinger on Mar 20th, 2022 at 9:19pm
I don't read Latin, but I have just found a reputable English translation and have downloaded by not read it yet.

Title: Re: Anglo-Saxon Sling Riddle
Post by Hirtius on Mar 20th, 2022 at 10:01pm
https://wiki.vikingsonline.org.uk/Sling

This website has had it for a while. I thought someone had already made a thread on this, but I went back through all the pages and didnít see anything. Where did you read this from?

The website also talks about how the companion of a bishop killed a pagan priest. Although this doesnít talk about it, at least one historian has tried to doubt the efficacy of the sling in the story for some reason.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weaponry_in_Anglo-Saxon_England

Title: Re: Anglo-Saxon Sling Riddle
Post by StaffSlinger on Mar 21st, 2022 at 12:01pm
Here's the Latin and English translation from a 1925 by Translation of the Aenigmata by James Hall Pitman:

LXXIV.† Fundibalum
Glauca seges lini vernans ex aequore campi
Et tergus mihi tradebant primordia fati.
Bina mihi constant torto retinacula filo,
Ex quibus immensum trucidabam mole tirannum,
Cum cuperent olim gentis saevire falanges.
Plus amo cum tereti bellum decernere saxo
Quam duris pugnans ferrata cuspide contis.
Tres digiti totum versant super ardua corpus;
Erro caput circa tenues et tendor in auras.



74.† Sling
The flax-plant, blooming fair in level fields,
And a bullís hide, gave me my origin.
Two bonds of twisted cord restrain my leap,
And thus long since I slaughtered with a weight
A mighty tyrant, when the marshaled host
Was bent on cruel war; for I prefer
To win my battles with a smooth, round stone
Rather than with hard iron-headed pikes.
Three fingers whirl me high about the head;
I turn, and dart away into thin air.

Even if this is "just" an allegory; and Aldhelm apparently loved his allegories, it still gives slingers a look at what the Anglo-Saxons, "vikings" and native Britons were doing with slings before 1066 -- twisted flax cords, leather pouch, three-finger grip, whirling high above the head...† And the attitude of "rather be a slinger than s spearman"!


Title: Re: Anglo-Saxon Sling Riddle
Post by Hirtius on Mar 21st, 2022 at 12:06pm
Three finger grip? I took it to just mean 1 finger for the retention cord and 2 for the release cord.

Title: Re: Anglo-Saxon Sling Riddle
Post by Curious Aardvark on Mar 21st, 2022 at 12:51pm
yeah, basic grip is 2 fingers and a thumb.
Makes sense :-)

That is pretty cool :thumb:

Title: Re: Anglo-Saxon Sling Riddle
Post by TOMBELAINE on Mar 22nd, 2022 at 3:42am
A topic about slings of York.
https://slinging.org/forum/YaBB.pl?num=1361973151

Very good text, Hirtius.

With pictures of pouches and "three fingers" in a text, only assumptions are possible for the grip.

Bull leather is too thick to make a sling. The author is more in the legend, the saga, the symbolism than in the reality.


StaffSlinger wrote on Mar 21st, 2022 at 12:01pm:
twisted flax cords, leather pouch, three-finger grip, whirling high above the head


Ok with you.

Title: Re: Anglo-Saxon Sling Riddle
Post by StaffSlinger on Mar 22nd, 2022 at 10:41am
Well, if you're going to be pedantic or uber-realistic, then  "bullhide" was just a synonym for all leather, and probably made a better rhyme in Latin than in modern English.  Also, thick hides can be split to make thinner hides, so I don't see any issue there.

"Three fingers" tell us they weren't using the old "full fist" hold.  I don't use more than three fingers, certainly; although some cultures did.

Title: Re: Anglo-Saxon Sling Riddle
Post by TOMBELAINE on Mar 22nd, 2022 at 11:08am
I'm not a specialist but there are three meanings to the word : Tergus.
Back, leather and remains of a body.

Cool, StaffSlinger, I'm ok with you.



Title: Re: Anglo-Saxon Sling Riddle
Post by Teg on Mar 22nd, 2022 at 2:13pm
Alternative translation from https://books.google.ch/books?id=37rwCgAAQBAJ&pg=PA44&lpg=PA44&dq=Erro+caput+circa+tenues&source=bl&ots=ILltqlaEWY&sig=ACfU3U3fVpbNyOehDsv9zLwr6jZCsdt50w&hl=de&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwidp6ujpdr2AhWD6aQKHZUIDroQ6AF6BAgREAM#v=onepage&q&f=false
Saint Aldhelm's 'Riddles', A.M. Juster, University of Toronto Press, 2015

My start began from flat and blooming fields,
Some leather and the light-blue flaxen yields.
They make me with twin bands of twisted string
With which I slew with stone a brutish king
Back when a crowd of brawlers longed for gore.
I pick a polished stone that ends a war
Instead of hard-tipped iron spears to fight.
Three fingers fling my body to great height;
I loop a head and in thin air I soar.

From what I can tell with the latin I still remember, both translations take considerable "poetic" freedom, to the extent that the meaning is changed.

Title: Re: Anglo-Saxon Sling Riddle
Post by StaffSlinger on Mar 22nd, 2022 at 2:20pm
All that "poetic licence" to keep the sense as well as make a rhyme -- a lot harder to do than it seems! 

Both translations do a credible job and the "truth": is somewhere between. 

Title: Re: Anglo-Saxon Sling Riddle
Post by Teg on Mar 22nd, 2022 at 2:28pm
In this case I'd rather have the sense than trying to match the rhyme  ;D

Title: Re: Anglo-Saxon Sling Riddle
Post by joe_meadmaker on Mar 22nd, 2022 at 8:59pm
Cool find!  :D

Title: Re: Anglo-Saxon Sling Riddle
Post by TOMBELAINE on Mar 23rd, 2022 at 6:37am
Good topic, StaffSlinger.
With this text, we know more about the slings of York.

Does anyone know more about the excavations ? The leather used ? The cord found with the third sling ?


Title: Re: Anglo-Saxon Sling Riddle
Post by Curious Aardvark on Mar 24th, 2022 at 4:05pm
weren't the york slings viking slings ?
Never been to the jorvik viking centre in york, but it's pretty famous.
And there have been a lot of viking artifacts excavated in york.

I think I've been to york twice, many years ago, just never made it to the viking centre.

Title: Re: Anglo-Saxon Sling Riddle
Post by StaffSlinger on Mar 24th, 2022 at 5:00pm
Yes -- Jorvik is the Danish "viking" name for the city, which mutated into "York" in Anglo-Saxon.  The city was founded by the Romans as Eboracum, and then revived as an Anglo-Saxon trading port called Eoforwic, captured by the Danes in 866,  Of course there were Britons, Anglo-Saxons, Danes, and others living there from the 700s right up to 1066.

Title: Re: Anglo-Saxon Sling Riddle
Post by StaffSlinger on Mar 24th, 2022 at 5:04pm
Yes -- Jorvik is the Danish "viking" name for the city, which mutated into "York" in Anglo-Saxon.  The city was founded by the Romans as Eboracum, and then revived as an Anglo-Saxon trading port called Eoforwic, captured by the Danes in 866,  Of course there were Britons, Anglo-Saxons, Danes, and others living there from the 700s right up to 955 when Eric Bloodaxe, the last Danish "King of Jorvik" died and Northumbria became a major Earldom of England.

There were probably slingers in that area from pre-Roman times right up to the Norman Conquest.

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