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22-11-2013, 11:54   #1
dublinviking
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bullaun stones

I will publish this as part of the vinca thread, but i thought it should also be published here as a separate thread.

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Acorns served an important role in early human history and were a source of food for many cultures around the world.[9] For instance, the Ancient Greek lower classes and the Japanese (during the Jōmon period) would eat acorns, especially in times of famine.[citation needed] In ancient Iberia they were a staple food, according to Strabo.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acorn

Our ancestors probably did the same. In Serbia peasants ate acorns well into 1950s. But what is amazing is how our ancestors made acorn flower. They did so by grinding acorns in acorn grinding slabs. How do we know that? From observing Indians in north America.

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Acorns were a traditional food of many indigenous peoples of North America, but served an especially important role for Californian Native Americans, where the ranges of several species of oaks overlap, increasing the reliability of the resource.[11]
Unlike many other plant foods, acorns do not need to be eaten or processed right away, but may be stored for a long time, as done by squirrels. In years that oaks produced many acorns, Native Americans sometimes collected enough acorns to store for two years as insurance against poor acorn production years.
After drying them in the sun to discourage mold and germination, women took acorns back to their villages and cached them in hollow trees or structures on poles, to keep them safe from mice and squirrels. The stored acorns could then be used when needed, particularly during the winter when other resources were scarce. Those acorns that germinated in the fall were shelled and pulverized before those that germinate in spring. Because of their high fat content, stored acorns can become rancid. Molds may also grow on them.
Native North Americans took an active and sophisticated role in managing acorn resources by using fire, which increased the production of acorns and made them easier to collect.[citation needed] The light ground fires killed the larvae of acorn moths and acorn weevils by burning them during their dormancy period in the soil. The pests can infest and consume more than 95% of an oak's acorns.
Fires also released the nutrients bound in dead leaves and other plant debris into the soil, thus fertilizing oak trees while clearing the ground to make acorn collection easier. Most North American oaks tolerate light fires, especially when consistent burning has eliminated woody fuel accumulation around their trunks. Consistent burning encouraged oak growth at the expense of other trees less tolerant of fire, thus keeping oaks dominant in the landscapes.
Oaks produce more acorns when they are not too close to other oaks and thus competing with them for sunlight, water and soil nutrients. The fires tended to eliminate the more vulnerable young oaks and leave old oaks which created open oak savannas with trees ideally spaced to maximize acorn production.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acorn

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In archaeology, a grinding slab is a ground stone artifact generally used to grind plant materials into usable size, though some slabs were used to shape other ground stone artifacts. Some grinding stones are portable; others are not and, in fact, may be part of a stone outcropping.
Grinding slabs used for plant processing typically acted as a coarse surface against which plant materials were ground using a portable hand stone, or mano ("hand" in Spanish). Variant grinding slabs are referred to as metates or querns, and have a ground-out bowl. Like all ground stone artifacts, grinding slabs are made of large-grained materials such as granite, basalt, or similar tool stones.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grinding_slab

Yosemite Grinding Stone



Old Indian woman preparing acorn meal.



http://www.archives.gov/pacific/educ...otographs.html

Rude mortars and pestles for grinding acorn meal. The holes have been worn in the granite by constant use.



http://www.sacred-texts.com/nam/ca/ioy/ioy07.htm

Quote:
Hundreds of years ago Indian women all over America ground acorns, nuts, and later maize (corn) with a stone pestle and a mortar made by grinding a hole in the bedrock. (Photo courtesy of Southwest Museum)


Quote:
A corn mill found in the West Woods Complex in Guilford, CT which was part of the Quinnipiac’s Menunkatuck Band Sachemdom. Similar mills have been found at Turkey Hill between Orange, CT and Naugatuck, CT, and many other locations as well. (Photo by Forrest Helander, Guilford, CT)


http://acqtc.org/Culture/WtpcqLongWaterPlace

Now am i the only one who sees similarity between these acorn grinding stones from north America and bullaun stones?

Quote:
A bullaun (Irish: bullán; from a word cognate with "bowl" and French bol) is the term used for the depression in a stone which is often water filled. Natural rounded boulders or pebbles may sit in the bullaun.[1] The size of the bullaun is highly variable and these hemispherical cups hollowed out of a rock may come as singles or multiples with the same rock.[2][3]
Local folklore often attaches religious or magical significance to bullaun stones, such as the belief that the rainwater collecting in a stone's hollow has healing properties.[4] Ritual use of some bullaun stones continued well into the Christian period and many are found in association with early churches, such as the 'Deer' Stone at Glendalough, County Wicklow. The example at St Brigit's Stone County Cavan still has its 'cure' or 'curse' stones. These would be used by turning them whilst praying for or cursing somebody.[1] In May 2012 the first cursing stone to be found in Scotland was discovered on Canna. It has been dated to circa 800.[5] The stones were latterly known as 'Butterlumps'.[6]
St. Aid or Áed mac Bricc was Bishop of Killare in 6th-century. At Saint Aid's birth his head had hit a stone, leaving a hole in which collected rainwater that cured all ailments, thus identifying it with the Irish tradition of Bullaun stones.[7]
Bullauns are not unique to Ireland and Scotland, being also found on the Swedish island of Gotland, and in Lithuania and France. Possibly enlarged from already-existing solution-pits caused by rain, bullauns are, of course, reminiscent of the cup-marked stones which occur all over Atlantic Europe, and their significance (if not their precise use) must date from Neolithic times.






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


And how is it possible that "we still don't know their precise use"? Ireland was once covered with mighty oak forests. People must have used the same type of acorn grinding stones in Ireland as they did in America for the same purpose: for grinding acorns. We still use stone mortars and pestles. I have one at home like this:



And here is a prihistoric one:



Acorns ground in stone mortar and pestle:



As i said numerous times before, people are extremely conservative when it comes to tools and will use something that works untill they find something that does it better.

So what do you think?
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22-11-2013, 12:30   #2
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There is little doubt that bullauns were used for grinding something - what that 'something' was is open to discussion.
In terms of nutrition, it is doubtful that bullauns were used exclusively for grinding acorns. There simply is not enough nutrition in these fruits to justify the labour involved.
If acorns were exploited, it is just a likely that they were ground on a saddle quern.
Some bullauns were in use for prolonged periods and there are a few examples where the bore almost perforated the stone, it was turned over and a fresh bore was started. So, whatever was ground had to have been of high value, either nutritionally, symbolically or materially. These stones were carefully selected and their situation is very often in association with important sites, like Glendalough as you say.
Recently, the idea has arisen that these stones may have been used in connection with the primary processing of ore. I don't know of any geochemical studies that have proven the existence of metal deposits but in any event, the tendency for bullauns to fill with water may well have eliminated such traces.
It is also possible that nothing was ground in bullauns - it may be that the hole served as a receptacle for rainwater and this water may have had ritual significance.
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22-11-2013, 13:18   #3
dublinviking
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Hi slowburner

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There simply is not enough nutrition in these fruits to justify the labour involved.
This is actually not true. Acorns are extremely high in protein and fat. They will also keep very well during the winter. Ireland was once covered in oak forests, and the most probable original usage is grinding acorns. We are talking about the original use of bullauns. Before grains came to Ireland.

Quote:
If acorns were exploited, it is just a likely that they were ground on a saddle quern.
True, but the ethnological evidence from north America tells us that communal grinding sites are used instead of saddle querns.

Quote:
These stones were carefully selected and their situation is very often in association with important sites, like Glendalough as you say.
Ceremonial preparation and consumption of food is well documented all around the world. There is no surprise that we have grinding stones near ceremonial sites.

Quote:
There is little doubt that bullauns were used for grinding something - what that 'something' was is open to discussion.
As i said, i believe that originally bullauns were developed as acorn grinders. But once you have an efficient grinding tool you can grind what ever you need to in the same places. When wheat came to Ireland it was probably ground using the same tool. Or herbs. Or Ore. There is evidence that ore was ground in the same type of tools and still is in some parts of the world.

The least plausible explanation is that they were not used for anything except for collecting rainwater.
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22-11-2013, 13:21   #4
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Acorn is also eaten by pigs, and pigs thrive in oak forest, providing people with plenty of meet. Considering that oak was sacred tree of sun and thunder gods, pigs who lived in forests of sacred oak trees and ate sacred acorns were considered sacred animals. This is the case in both Ireland and Serbia.

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The PIG must be placed among the sacred animals of Ireland, as it was of various nations of antiquity. Was not the place known of old as Mucinis , or Hog Island? Did not Giraldus Cambrensis say in the twelfth century that he had never seen so many swine as in Ireland?

The Norsemen offered the pig to their sun-god, killed at the winter solstice. The animal appears on Gaulish coins, under or over a horse and the fleur-de-lis. It was the national symbol of Gaul, as seen in their standards.

Druids were rather fond of pigs, since these had a liking for acorns, the produce of the saintly oak. Yet they, as priests, were the Swine of Mon , and Swine of the Sacred Cord . Like the Cabiri, they were Young Swine . The Druids were much given to transforming persons into what were known as Druidic pigs. When the Milesians sought for Ireland in their voyage, the Tuatha, by magic, caused a fog to rise so as to make the land assume the appearance of a large pig; whence it got the appellation of Inis na Muice , or Isle of Pig; or Muc Inis , Hog Island.
http://www.libraryireland.com/Druids/Sacred-Pigs.php

Serbia was until 19th century covered with huge oak forests. The central part of Serbia is called šumadija, the land of forests. In 19th century Serbia was the main exporter of pork in Europe, thanks to it's huge oak forests. Roasted pig on spit is sacrificial animal eaten at Christmas.

Quote:
On Christmas Eve, the men of the family build a fire in their house yard, and roast a pig, or a sheep in some areas, on a long wooden spit. The whole roasted pig or sheep, called pečenica, is a traditional part of Christmas dinner. People who raise their own swine dedicate one for the pečenica a month or two before, and feed it with better fodder. It used to be killed on Tucindan, the day before Christmas Eve, by hitting on the head with a lump of salt. Its throat was then cut, the blood being collected and mixed with fodder. Feeding cattle with this mixture was believed to make them thrive. The name Tucindan is derived from the verb tući "to beat". The roasted pečenica may be brought into the house with a ritual similar to that of bringing in the badnjak.[4][6][24]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serbian...mas_traditions

Quote:
The Triballi (Greek: Τριβαλλοί) were an ancient tribe whose dominion was around the plains of modern southern Serbia[1][2] and western Bulgaria, at the Angrus and Brongus (the South and West Morava) and the Iskar River, roughly centered where Serbia and Bulgaria are joined.[2]

The term "Triballians" appears frequently in Byzantine and other European works of the Middle Ages, referring exclusively to Serbs.[13][14][15][16][17] Some of these authors clearly explain that "Triballian" is synonym to "Serbian".[18][19][20][21][22] For example, Niketas Choniates (or Acominatus, 1155–1215 or-16) in his history about Emperor Ioannes Komnenos: "... Shortly after this, he campaigned against the nation of Triballians (whom someone may call Serbians as well) ..."[23] or the much later Demetrios Chalkondyles (1423–1511), referring to an Islamized Christian noble: "... This Mahmud, son of Michael, is Triballian, which means Serbian, by his mother, and Greek by his father."[24] or Mehmed the Conqueror when referring to the plundering of Serbia.[25]


The Seal of the Serbian Parliament, 1805.



In the 15th century, a coat of arms of "Tribalia", depicting a wild boar with an arrow pierced through the head (see Boars in heraldry), appeared in the supposed Coat of Arms of Emperor Stefan Dušan 'the Mighty' (r. 1331–1355).[26] The motif had, in 1415, been used as the Coat of Arms of the Serbian Despotate and is recalled in one of Stefan Lazarević's personal Seals, according to the paper Сабор у Констанци.[27] Pavao Ritter Vitezović also depicts "Triballia" with the same motif in 1701[28] and Hristofor Zhefarovich again in 1741.[29] With the beginning of the First Serbian Uprising, the Parliament adopted the Serbian Coat of Arms in 1805, their official seal depicted the heraldic emblems of Serbia and Tribalia.[30]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triballi


One of Serbian (Tribalian) medieval coats of arms:

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22-11-2013, 13:22   #5
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wet grinder from India used for grinding cinnabar ore, tree bark and spices:



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wet_grinder
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22-11-2013, 16:58   #6
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Acorns seem like a reasonable use from a technological point of view. Its a mistake to assume a mortar like feature is /can be used in the same way as a flat grinding stone. Round bottom mortars are very useful for dehusking as opposed to grinding. Although I admit I have very limited experience actually grinding acorns.

If acorns were a major wild staple in Ireland one might expect to see it mentioned in the early Irish texts. From my reading of Fergus Kelly's work we don't see a lot of references to them aside from as a pig staple where they are called daurmess but apparently there is some evidence in Old and Middle Irish poetry that acorns were consumed by people when other food was in short supply.

However, that doesn't prove bullauns were used for their processing.

I don't see any reason whatsoever to see pigs as sacred in Irish history. In early medieaval Ireland the oak was revered and valued but I suspect calling it sacred is a leap. We actually know quite little about ancient Irish religion or indeed Celtic religion.

Last edited by robp; 22-11-2013 at 17:07.
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22-11-2013, 17:40   #7
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hi robp

Quote:
Its a mistake to assume a mortar like feature is /can be used in the same way as a flat grinding stone.
I am not. But they can sometimes be used for the same purpose. I watched cookery documentary from India, where they used both flat grinding stone and pestle and mortar for grinding spices. I also know that people use both of these tools for ore grinding as well. So...

Quote:
If acorns were a major wild staple in Ireland one might expect to see it mentioned in the early Irish texts. From my reading of Fergus Kelly's work we don't see a lot of references to them aside from as a pig staple where they are called daurmess but apparently there is some evidence in Old and Middle Irish poetry that acorns were consumed by people when other food was in short supply.
I am talking time before 4000bc as the time when the bullauns were first used for acorn processing. At that time there was no other source of starch in Ireland. Later, with burning of the forests to replace them with fields for cereals, they were probably used for wheat as well. In serbia people also used acorn for making porridge and bread during hard times until mid 20th century.

Quote:
However, that doesn't prove bullauns were used for acorn processing.
No, but we have identical stone structures used in America for acorn and cereal processing. And we have examples from Asia that these structures are used for food and ore processing. So...

Quote:
I don't see any reason whatsoever to see pigs as sacred in Irish history.
Not my words, just quoting. Pig was sacred in Egypt for instance where it was sacrificed to Osiris. So it is possible. It was definitely used as a sacrificial animal in Serbia, Central Europe and Scandinavia. And i already spoke about numerous cultural links between Ireland and Central Europe here:

http://www.boards.ie/vbulletin/showt...p?t=2056938477

Quote:
In early medieaval Ireland the oak was revered and valued but I suspect calling it sacred is a leap.
It was sacred in Central Europe from Balkan to Baltic and still is in Serbia. So it is not impossible that it had sacred status in Ireland. It was the tree associated with Thunder gods.

Quote:
We actually know quite little about ancient Irish religion or indeed Celtic religion.
This what were are here for. To discover more about things we know little about....And have fun...
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22-11-2013, 18:01   #8
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Originally Posted by dublinviking View Post
I am not. But they can sometimes be used for the same purpose. I watched cookery documentary from India, where they used both flat grinding stone and pestle and mortar for grinding spices. I also know that people use both of these tools for ore grinding as well. So...
My comment was really directed at slowburner.


Quote:
Originally Posted by dublinviking View Post
I am talking time before 4000bc as the time when the bullauns were first used for acorn processing. At that time there was no other source of starch in Ireland. Later, with burning of the forests to replace them with fields for cereals, they were probably used for wheat as well. In serbia people also used acorn for making porridge and bread during hard times until mid 20th century.
There were many possible starch sources in Mesolithic Ireland. We know Mesolithic people here consumed hazelnut, celandines and lily seed. There probably were many more ones eaten. Acorns may have been one.

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Originally Posted by dublinviking View Post
No, but we have identical stone structures used in America for acorn and cereal processing. And we have examples from Asia that these structures are used for food and ore processing. So...



Not my words, just quoting. Pig was sacred in Egypt for instance where it was sacrificed to Osiris. So it is possible. It was definitely used as a sacrificial animal in Serbia, Central Europe and Scandinavia. And i already spoke about numerous cultural links between Ireland and Central Europe here:
Its possible.
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22-11-2013, 18:33   #9
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Originally Posted by robp View Post
There were many possible starch sources in Mesolithic Ireland. We know Mesolithic people here consumed hazelnut, celandines and lily seed. There probably were many more ones eaten. Acorns may have been one..
+1 Another I can think of are the root tubers of water lillies themselves. They grow large and annually and are even available in winter unless the water freezes over.
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22-11-2013, 20:30   #10
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as i said before, once you make a good tool for grinding you will use it to grind what ever you need to grind.

One thing. I noticed that all holy trees of old either had edible fruit or nuts (oak, hazelnut, apple) or were good for making tools and particularly fire making equipment (alder, elder) or for making weapons like spears (ash).

Look at the list of Celtic holy trees:

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

This probably comes from the time when people burned forests for agriculture and making these trees "holy" would insure that they are not destroyed and would insure supply of food and good wood...

What do you think?
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16-12-2013, 21:30   #11
 
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there a bullaun in wicklow with 30 of holes on it
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