Tag Archives: sheep

Beat this for impact!

In the English academy it’s all about impact these days, unless it’s all about networks or public engagement, those are very hot too. But mainly impact, by which we mean, for those not reading in the language of the Higher Education Funding Council for England (may it live forever?), changes in the way people outside the university environment do things on the basis of our work. This is sometimes seen as hard for medievalists to produce; not a lot of people do things on the basis of their understanding of the Middle Ages in the first place, so first we have to make them do that. Of course we do produce this effect via both our teaching and our book sales outside the Academy but we’re not allowed to score those, don’t ask me why. So this is rightly attacked as not fit for purpose yet we still look, desperately, for ways in which we might be able to show impact as so defined. Well, check this out for a direct influence on modern economic behaviour from my work:

Ovelia modiale, nou nascut

“Ballachulish has given birth to a new Ripollesa lamb, born yesterday:

Ripollesa sheep Ballachulish with new lamb Ovelia Modiale

“I’ve named her Ovelia Modiale in honour of my brother-out-of-law, Jonathan Jarrett whose paper on the use of cows, sheep and possibly pigs as monetary units in 10th century Catalonia is a must read. Our tiny new lamb (3.8kg at birth, so small) probably is not yet worth a modius of grain, but I’ll love her all the same….”

And you can click through the picture for more details should you really want them; he refers, of course, to my most recent actual publication, a while ago now and something I hope will be changing soon. Now, admittedly there are problems with this as an impact case study. Firstly, it’s in Catalonia, though the people involved are still UK voters; secondly, as far as I know they only named one animal on the basis of the paper, so it’s not exactly public policy; and thirdly, of course, this was December 2014, so loved or not that lamb is still long-eaten chops by now, though you could claim that that just represents the propagation of the effect of my work into the local environment… But still: I’m betting not many other medievalists can claim this kind of impact! Thankyou to the Crofter and the Croft

Buried with his sheep before him (this one’s for the smut-minded out there)

Some archaeologists working in Ireland, at Corofin, County Galway, may (or may not) have found an early Christian site there, identified by 65 burials in what could, if generously interpreted, be a vallum, an earth rampart that is traditionally held to mark the limits of a monastic enclosure in Celtic areas. Some might say that, given how difficult it is to actually identify Irish Christian sites in archaeological terms, or any religious site at all for definite really, this is a bit hopeful, but the burials are all supine, extended (except for one) and oriented east-west and so, while even that is not ambiguous, I don’t see why it shouldn’t be a Christian cemetery. That isn’t what I wanted to mention. In fact this entry is dedicated to bloggers like Carl Pyrdum and Jennifer Lynn Jordan, the sort of people who can use the phrase “monkey butt-trumpet” and mean it.

You see, the owner of one of the skeletons was buried with a sheep, in what some might call a “compromising position”, as you can see:

compromising Corofin inhumation

The reporting page coyly says that this has led to some “unlikely suppositions”, and well, yes, it would wouldn’t it? But what then would a likely one be? Any suggestions?