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14-11-2013, 11:13   #1
dublinviking
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Fulacht fiadh

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A fulacht fiadh (Irish pronunciation: [ˈfˠʊl̪ˠəxt̪ˠ ˈfʲiːə]; Irish: fulacht fiadh or fulacht fian; plural: fulachtaí fia or, in older texts, fulachta fiadh) is a type of archaeological site found in Ireland. In England, Scotland, Wales and the Isle of Man they are known as burnt mounds. They commonly survive as a low horseshoe-shaped mound of charcoal-enriched soil and heat shattered stone with a slight depression at its centre showing the position of the pit.
Radiocarbon dating indicates that the majority of fulachtaí fiadh were constructed during the mid to late Bronze Age[1] (c.1500- c. 500 BC), though some Neolithic examples are known. However, some were still in use up to medieval times.[2] They are the most common archaeological sites in Ireland, with over 4,500 recorded examples,[3] of which some 2,000 are found in County Cork. Permanent structures are rarely found near to fulachtaí fiadh, but small hut sites are common and it is unknown whether early sites were built by permanent settlements or nomadic hunters.[3]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fulacht_fiadh



Function is still being debated.

Quote:
The pokhodnaya banya (походная баня) or "hiking banya," is popular among the Russian military, mountaineers and people who travel for extended periods in harsh environments. It consists of a stone oven set up in a small makeshift tent. Hiking banyas are usually made near a lakeshore or riverbank where many big, round stones are available to build the banya's oven and there is plenty of cool water available for bathing. Large stones are made into a dome-shaped circular oven, one to four meters in diameter and a half to one meter in height so that there is space left on the inside to make a large fire. Firewood is burned for several hours in this improvised stove until the stones on the surface of the pile become so hot that water poured on them turns into steam. Around the pile, a space is tarped to form a small tent and the banya is ready when it becomes very hot inside and there is a lot of steam. Fresh veniks can be cut from nearby birch or oak trees and bathers can take turns cooling off in the ice-cold mountain water.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banya_(sauna)

http://vasha-banya.com/karkas/vozved...mi-rukami.html


Instead of plastic you can use leather or branches.





The way the steam is created by overheating a pile of stones will create a large quantities of burned stone.











The water is kept inside of the the wood or stone laid pit and was scooped and poured over the hot stones to produce steam...

This is one in use



These things are still used all over Russia.


Use this search to get Russian links to banjas:

https://www.google.ie/search?q=%D0%9...h=815#imgdii=_

Question is How come they survived in Russia but not in Ireland? And where is the origin?

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The Finnish sauna (pronounced 'Sow-na') is a substantial part of Finnish culture. There are five million inhabitants and over two million saunas in Finland - an average of one per household.[1] For Finnish people the sauna is a place to relax with friends and family, and a place for physical and mental relaxation as well. Finns think of saunas not as a luxury, but as a necessity. Before the rise of public health care and nursery facilities, almost all Finnish mothers gave birth in saunas.

The sauna in Finland is an old phenomenon[citation needed] and is difficult to trace its roots. Bath houses were recorded in Europe during the same time period, but Finnish bathing habits were poorly documented until the 16th century.[citation needed] Because of the years of habitation and variant rule by Russia and Sweden, it is possible that the sauna custom evolved from them. It was during the Reformation in Scandinavia that the popularity of saunas expanded to other countries because the European bath houses were being destroyed. Hundreds[when?] of years ago, when bathing was something to be done only rarely or never at all, Finns were cleaning themselves in saunas at least once a week.[citation needed]
One reason the sauna culture has always flourished in Finland has been because of the versatility of the sauna. When people were moving, the first thing they did was build a sauna. You could live in it, make food in the stove, take care of your personal hygiene, and, most importantly, give birth in an almost sterile environment. Unlike many other, more densely populated places in Europe, the availability of wood needed to build and warm the sauna has never been an issue. Another reason for its popularity is that in such a cold climate, the sauna allows people warmth for at least a short period of time. However, it is just as popular in the summer as in the winter.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Finnish_sauna

So Finish saunas are probably of Russian origin.

Quote:
The oldest known saunas were Finnish, made from pits dug in a slope in the ground and primarily used as dwellings in winter.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sauna

And all the other saunas in Scandinavia are of Finish origin. Meaning all saunas are of Russian origin....

Where did Irish fulacht fiadh then come from? Brought with invading solders from the north east? Like south Baltic? In Bronze age?

What is interesting is that word "banja" in Serbian means Bath and "banjati se" means to wash.

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Banya or banja (Russian: баня [ˈbanʲə]; Macedonian: бања [ˈbaɲa]; Serbian: бања [ˈbâɲa]) can refer to a number of types of steam baths popular in Eastern Europe. In Russia, it refers to a particular local type of sauna. In the Republic of Macedonia and Serbia it is a mineral water spa, as, for example, the spa resorts such as Kežovica (Macedonia), and Vrnjačka Banja and Sokobanja (Serbia). Variants of this word in other Slavic languages usually refer to a bathtub (Slovene: banja), bathroom (Bulgarian: баня) and bathing in general.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banya_(sauna)

What is Very interesting is etymology of word banja:

Quote:
From Proto-Slavic *banja.
http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/banja

Quote:
From Vulgar Latin *bānea, *bānja, balnia, from Latin balneum, balineum (“bath, bathing place”).
http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Append...a#Proto-Slavic

How can Vulgar Latin bānea come from balnia and balneum is a mystery. Also does anyone has any example of Vulgar Latin "bānea"?

Quote:
From Ancient Greek βαλανεῖον (balaneîon).
http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/balineum#Latin

Quote:

(5th BC Attic): IPA: /balané͜e.on/

Etymology uncertain. Attempts have been made to connect with βάλανος (balanos, “acorn”), but are semantically unconvincing. Probably Pre-Greek.
http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%CE%B2...#Ancient_Greek

So the root for Slavic banja is Vulgar Latin bānea which has root in Lating balneum which has root in Old Greek balaneîon which has no etymology in Greek.

Let me try to come up with etymology:

In Serbian Bel, Beli means white.

In Serbian Ban, Van means white. Svanuti = S Van uti = with white (light) be = to dawn, to get bright, to get white. Svanuće = Dawn

In Serbian nos means to carry.


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In Celtic mythology, Bel, Belenos (also Belenus) was a deity worshipped in Gaul, Cisalpine Gaul, and Celtic areas of Austria, Britain and Spain. He is particularly associated with Cornwall, West Cornwall being anciently called Belerion, the place of Bel. He was the Celtic sun god and had shrines from Aquileia on the Adriatic to Kirkby Lonsdale in England.[1][2]

The etymology of the name is unclear. Suggestions include "shining one,"[3] "the bright one"[4] and "henbane god".[5]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belenus

Belenos is bel + nos = white (light) + carry = bringer of light

In Irish bàn means white, Old Irish bán; Indo-European root bha@-, shine; Greek @Gfanós ( @G a long), bright; Sanskrit bhânù, light; further away is English bale (bale-fire).

http://www.ceantar.org/Dicts/MB2/mb03.html

"Banjati se" means to wash in Serbian. But in Irish it would mean to make your self white again which is the purpose of washing. This means the same as "beliti se" - to make yourself white, clean from dirt.

So "Greek" balaneîon literally means: a place where you make yourself "bel", white, clean...

"Vulgar Latin" bānea literally means: a place where you make yourself "ban", white, clean...

The archetypal ancestor of the Serbs is called Van, Ban and he is represented as white wolf. Remember B and V are interchangeable.

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Slavic mythology mentions a deity which is in indissolubly connected with the wolf. That deity is Dažbog, God of the Sun and the son of Svarog, namely one of the group of Gods called Svarožić. Dažbog, like so many other deities, is theriomorphous and his animal form is a white, lame wolf...

There is another myth connected to the wolf, and this myth speaks of Dažbog's voyage to the Underworld, and his marriage to Morana, the Slavic Goddess of death. Namely, Morana and Dažbog had a son named Van, blinded by his mother, as a vengeance to Dažbog whom she had stopped loving. Van was thrown into a pit, but is rescued by Radgost, who takes him to Živa who heals his eyesight with the water of life. As punishment, Dažbog throws Morana onto a stake and, as she burns, she curses Van, turning him into a wolf. Van’s sister Poljelja learns that she can save her brother if she keeps silent for seven years – when this time passes, he will revert to his human form. Even though she goes through gruelling trials, Poljelja keeps silent even when she’s put on a stake, however, at that very moment, the seven years pass and Van turns back into a human, thus saving his sister from a certain death. Nevertheless, Van loses his divine powers and, as such, becomes a human being and, according to the legend, the ancestor of the Serbian people. We shall talk more about the Serbian cult of the wolf later, first we should end this depiction of the wolf’s role in Slavic mythology with a review of the non traditional systematization of Slavic paganism, the so-called Slavic Vedism of Yuri Miroljubov and Alexander Asov, and the place the wolf holds in this system...
http://forum.badnjak.com/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=744

Book of Veles says:

Quote:
Ne zaboravljamo naše običaje: peremo svoja tela i umivamo svoj duh u čistoj vodi živoj.
Do not forget our customs: wash our bodies and wash our spirit in clean living water.

http://www.ivantic.net/Ostale_knjiig...ova_knjiga.pdf

Bathing was a religious act for Slavs Arians closely connected with Sun worship.

Quote:
Other popular names for this day are “bonfire” (Polish: sobótka), a name possibly derived from the day on which these festivities used to be held (sobota is Polish for “Saturday”) or from the ritual name given St. John’s fires, and “kupała”, which is probably derived from a word for ritual bathing. The traditions associated with this night go back to pagan times and are known all over Europe. St. John’s Eve falls just after the summer solstice and climaxes when the sun reaches its zenith to signify the longest day and shortest night. Strange things were believed to have occurred at that precise moment and strange powers were attributed to fire, water and plants. That evening, people would stray far from home and cultivated fields to gather around fires (where suitable kinds of trees were being burned), by lakes, along rivers or on hills. Herbs like artemisia and burdock would be thrown onto the fire in the belief that they had cleansing powers. Girls would dance around the fires singing love songs. Boys, and sometimes girls, would jump through the fire. Water also acquired peculiar properties on that night. It was said to “blossom” and that only St. John could make it safe to bathe in rivers and lakes. 24 June has been a critical day ever since. It used to be believed that bathing on Ivan Kupala Day washed away evil forces, endued with health and strength, and ensured good luck. Bodies, especially those of young people, became healthier and more beautiful and alluring. Such a bath guaranteed requited love, successful marriage and happy parenthood. Marriageable girls wove garlands (a symbol of virginity) of field and garden flowers, tied them to slats to which they fixed candles, and then floated them in the water and observed closely. Floating evenly or being fished out by a boy they liked was a much desired omen as it signified love, impending marriage and long life. Becoming entangled in vegetation, however, meant remaining unmarried for at least another year. The worst possible omen was the candle going out or the garland sinking or capsizing. This foreshadowed trouble in love and life, unrequited love, spinsterhood, sadness and single-handedly having to raise a child born out of wedlock. Several customs associated with this day still survive. The magical aspect might have disappeared but the belief that bathing is only possible after St. John’s day is still with us.
http://regionwielkopolska.pl/en/folk...upala-day.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kupala_Night

So what do you think, who invented Saunas and Baths in general, who gave them their name, who did Greeks got them from??? Is it possible that they came from Ireland and went to South Baltic first and then Balkans in Early Bronze age? Or was it the other way round?

Last edited by dublinviking; 14-11-2013 at 12:04.
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14-11-2013, 16:54   #2
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having used a fulacht fiadh for a day down in Wexford in the way it's described in the books over here I have no doubt that the books are wrong.

it took a good few hours of constant work by a team of us to maintain the fire, keep the stones going into the water and maintain that boiling water for long enough to cook a joint of meat.
i came away thinking that it was far more likely used in the way the Maori cooking pit- hangi.

where they light a fire filled with stones in a pit, let it burn down, wrap the meat up, cover it in branches then sand, leaving a gap to pour a wee bit of water in, plug this hole and leave it to steam/bake. feck all effort for tastier, less soggy, salty meat and veg than you would get the other way.

i suppose they could also have been Saunas. why not?
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14-11-2013, 23:36   #3
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Wasn't the Mega and Neolithic climate several degrees warmer on average than modern day in Ireland ?
Would this mean Sauna's are likely ?
Perhaps still popular in winter times.

I'm for the cooking pit, Maori style. Except for the lackery of big banana leaves to wrap it up in...

But they were past the hunter-gatherer stage by then, they were farmers ? otherwise the megalthic and neolithic obsession with the calenders the seasons and the Sun would not have been so prominent ?
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15-11-2013, 08:46   #4
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Originally Posted by AngryHippie View Post
Wasn't the Mega and Neolithic climate several degrees warmer on average than modern day in Ireland ?
Would this mean Sauna's are likely ?
Perhaps still popular in winter times.

I'm for the cooking pit, Maori style. Except for the lackery of big banana leaves to wrap it up in...

But they were past the hunter-gatherer stage by then, they were farmers ? otherwise the megalthic and neolithic obsession with the calenders the seasons and the Sun would not have been so prominent ?
The Maori weren't hunter-gatherers.The leaves aren't a problem. For instance dock leaves are grand for cooking in. Pit cooking meat is a very good means of meat preparation. To me it seems better then boiling but a lot of thw fulachtaí fia had wood lined troughs so there is a definite water element in many examples.
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15-11-2013, 09:36   #5
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Thank you all for reading

BFDCH

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I having used a fulacht fiadh for a day down in Wexford in the way it's described in the books over here I have no doubt that the books are wrong.
I agree with you that the least likely use for fulacht fiadh is cooking in water. Too much castle. And we have living examples of fulacht fiadh like facilities still in use in Russia as saunas all the time by everyone.

AngryHippie

Quote:
Wasn't the Mega and Neolithic climate several degrees warmer on average than modern day in Ireland? Would this mean Sauna's are likely? Perhaps still popular in winter times.
If you look at the pictures from Russia, they are all summer time pictures at most autumn. No winter pictures at all. So Banja (Not a sauna) is used all year round for bathing.

Saunas or Banjas are great temporary dwellings as well. They have roof and stove and are basically fully functional dwellings. And they can become very quickly and easily permanent dwellings if you pile enough insulating material on the walls. They are documented as being used as dwellings during winter times in northern Russia and Scandinavia. They only become saunas if you pour water over stones.

The stone oven design is very interesting. It is a prototype of a brick storage heater. You heat up the stones and then they radiate heat. Then you reheat them and so on....Much more efficient then open fire. Because they have a cavity, they are great for baking and roasting too.

Compare this Banja oven design still used in Russia:



With these bread ovens still used in Serbia:






The same design just different material. Stone version is older and intermediate version is stone with clay used instead of mortar for linking stones and filling holes.

If you put a flat stone on top, then you can prepare food on it.



http://naturallore.wordpress.com/201...-cabin-part-6/

The stone oven design in pictures is found in all early medieval Slavic houses and is so characteristic of Slavic houses that it defines them as such in archaeological sites. Funnily these ovens are also found in a lot of early Viking houses scattered all over the Atlantic coastline which razes the question of Slavic presence among the early Vikings. Houses with these ovens are found in early Viking Dublin as well.

robp

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fulachtaí fia had wood lined troughs
One other possible use is for brain tanning (making buckskin). In that case the trough would be used for cooking skin in brain soup, which doesn't need to be too hot to work, just hot enough and the procedure doesn't last too long so you don't need constant stone insertion.

Braintanned buckskin is one of the oldest ways of turning a hide into leather. The process is long and hard, as anyone who has done it will attest, but the outcome is far better then any other leather. It is stronger then Carhartt yet softer then velvet.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buckskin_(leather)

Here is how you can make bucksking using primitive tools available to our Cro Magnon ancestors:

without cooking in cold sub arctic climate

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eAnCwd1NYU

with cooking in wormer climate

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rgRngDtk7xA

I discovered this while researching ways of making leather cover for fire making equipment and cordage for bow fire drill.
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15-11-2013, 10:33   #6
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One other possible use is for brain tanning (making buckskin). In that case the trough would be used for cooking skin in brain soup, which doesn't need to be too hot to work, just hot enough and the procedure doesn't last too long so you don't need constant stone insertion.

Braintanned buckskin is one of the oldest ways of turning a hide into leather. The process is long and hard, as anyone who has done it will attest, but the outcome is far better then any other leather. It is stronger then Carhartt yet softer then velvet.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buckskin_(leather)

Here is how you can make bucksking using primitive tools available to our Cro Magnon ancestors:

without cooking in cold sub arctic climate

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eAnCwd1NYU

with cooking in wormer climate

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rgRngDtk7xA

I discovered this while researching ways of making leather cover for fire making equipment and cordage for bow fire drill.
That is really interesting. I have never heard this idea before. People often list hide preparation as a possible function but typically its just listed in a hopelessly vague way. Water is important in the bark tanning process too but not so much hot water.

Warm water is used in brain tanning process but as you say not that hot. Whether that explains the heat cracked stones I don't know. If they brain tanned the grain of the leather should be clearly absent in preserved bronze age leather. I don't know if this is the case. They may have used both techniques though.
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15-11-2013, 11:29   #7
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robp

Have a look at this:

http://www.primitiveways.com/foxtan/Tanafox.htm

Combination of brain and wood tanning. You cook brain soup in the trough by heating the water using hot stones. Then you drop your skin in it, and rubb the soup into the skin while in the trough (remember water is not boiling). Then you hang it over the stove and smoke it...

The ingenious design of Banja (fulacht fiadh) structure is that it is a multipurpose and can be easily adopted to various uses.

The key to this versatility is the stove design.
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17-11-2013, 09:05   #8
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What would be interesting is if we knew the first time these locations were described as cooking areas.

I remember hearing about stone built sweat boxes (saunas) used in Ireland from ancient times until the introduction of public health services.

These sweat boxes were used for cleansing and medical treatments.

There was also some discussion that these stone built sweat boxes were also used as a form of torture or interrogation or to induce abortion.

I know there is one in the North Tipperary area but I have never seen it.
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17-11-2013, 11:04   #9
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Interesting piece on sweathouses here.
http://www.irishmegaliths.org.uk/sweathouses.htm
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17-11-2013, 12:00   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fries-With-That View Post
What would be interesting is if we knew the first time these locations were described as cooking areas.

I remember hearing about stone built sweat boxes (saunas) used in Ireland from ancient times until the introduction of public health services.

These sweat boxes were used for cleansing and medical treatments.

There was also some discussion that these stone built sweat boxes were also used as a form of torture or interrogation or to induce abortion.

I know there is one in the North Tipperary area but I have never seen it.
I think there are couple around North Tipp - I visited one near Toor before (up near Newport) and there is one at Boilingbrook near the Silvermines.
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17-11-2013, 12:05   #11
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Interesting

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Originally Posted by slowburner View Post
Interesting piece on sweathouses here.
http://www.irishmegaliths.org.uk/sweathouses.htm
That is a great article, and brings to mind the whispered stories I heard at as to what sweat houses were used for.

Is it not possible that many of the sweat houses in the more affluent parts of the country were simply erased from the landscape by a people determined to erase all traces of a non catholic past.

The article points to the poorer counties of the country as having many of the surviving examples, not just poorer counties I would suggest but more sparsely populated and less likely to come under the influence of the eradication of the old ways.

I also suspect that given the widespread location of lime kilns maybe a sweat box site was simply reused as a lime kiln site.

This website has an interesting picture of what is known locally as a lime kiln and the beach is named Lime Kiln beach, much more favorable than sweat box beach I suppose. It is interesting to note that a penal chapel ruins are also on this site.

Remote location, penal chapel, this to me points to a far older use of the site than that of a lime kiln.

http://charliekavanagh.wordpress.com/page/4/
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17-11-2013, 12:15   #12
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Sweat House

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Originally Posted by bawn79 View Post
I think there are couple around North Tipp - I visited one near Toor before (up near Newport) and there is one at Boilingbrook near the Silvermines.

I have heard about the one near Bollingbrook and I think I have seen a picture of it.

I recently spoke with an elderly man from the area and he remembers walking the hills above the Silvermines in his youth and he came across a small cave lined with stone with a small pit carved into the stone floor
.
He said the cave was about 6ft high and a little more in diameter he thought it was used by ancient miners as a wash house of sorts to remove the lead from their pores.

His memory as to exact location is hazy and he thinks it might have been covered over by the waste heap from macobar.

It would have been interesting to see it, if people had gone to the trouble of lining a natural cave with stone and carving a pit with a channel running out the doorway it had to have some important function.
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18-11-2013, 10:48   #13
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That is a great article, and brings to mind the whispered stories I heard at as to what sweat houses were used for.

Is it not possible that many of the sweat houses in the more affluent parts of the country were simply erased from the landscape by a people determined to erase all traces of a non catholic past.
Is there any evidence at all that sweat houses had pagan connotations in the 19th cen?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fries-With-That View Post
The article points to the poorer counties of the country as having many of the surviving examples, not just poorer counties I would suggest but more sparsely populated and less likely to come under the influence of the eradication of the old ways.

I also suspect that given the widespread location of lime kilns maybe a sweat box site was simply reused as a lime kiln site.

This website has an interesting picture of what is known locally as a lime kiln and the beach is named Lime Kiln beach, much more favorable than sweat box beach I suppose. It is interesting to note that a penal chapel ruins are also on this site.

Remote location, penal chapel, this to me points to a far older use of the site than that of a lime kiln.
http://charliekavanagh.wordpress.com/page/4/
Fulachtaí fia are bronze age monuments, while sweat houses are post-mediaeval. On current evidence Fulachtaí fia died out in Ireland in the mid-first millennium BC. There is a huge gap.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fries-With-That View Post
What would be interesting is if we knew the first time these locations were described as cooking areas.

I remember hearing about stone built sweat boxes (saunas) used in Ireland from ancient times until the introduction of public health services.

These sweat boxes were used for cleansing and medical treatments.

There was also some discussion that these stone built sweat boxes were also used as a form of torture or interrogation or to induce abortion.

I know there is one in the North Tipperary area but I have never seen it.
I presume you know the term fulacht appears in Irish literature from the 9th cen, referring to the open air cooking sites of warrior-hunters of the Fianna. Apparently we know from the 19th cen the term was used to refer to these burnt mounds. This may relate to the survival of oral tradition.

This is an up to date paper on them. https://www.academia.edu/1209504/Med...cal_Assessment
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19-11-2013, 08:52   #14
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Is there any evidence at all that sweat houses had pagan connotations in the 19th cen?

I don't know about pagan, but were they not used to induce menstruation.

Fulachtaí fia are bronze age monuments, while sweat houses are post-mediaeval. On current evidence Fulachtaí fia died out in Ireland in the mid-first millennium BC. There is a huge gap.

Agreed, but is it not unreasonable to suggest as per previous posts that if they were used as bathing/cleansing locations that this practise was maintained in another format.

I presume you know the term fulacht appears in Irish literature from the 9th cen, referring to the open air cooking sites of warrior-hunters of the Fianna. Apparently we know from the 19th cen the term was used to refer to these burnt mounds. This may relate to the survival of oral tradition.

This is an up to date paper on them. https://www.academia.edu/1209504/Med...cal_Assessment
My comments are in bold.

I'm not trying to be argumentative.

Thanks for information paper.

Last edited by Fries-With-That; 19-11-2013 at 10:31. Reason: Messed up post.
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20-11-2013, 17:17   #15
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My comments are in bold.

I'm not trying to be argumentative.

Thanks for information paper.
Fair enough. I guess people to need start digging sweat houses and dating them and eyeing an eye out for monuments that might bridge the gap.
There is quite a bit of interesting work on fulachts coming out of of UCC.
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