Archive for 2012-05-13

Legends of the Rollright Stones

The Rollright Stones by Brian Haughton 
Unsolvedmystery - The Rollright Stones is the collective name for a group of enigmatic prehistoric monuments located next to an ancient ridgeway known as the Jurassic Way, on the border between the English counties of Oxfordshire and Warwickshire. The name ‘Rollright’ derives from Hrolla-landriht - ‘the land of Hrolla’.
The complex of monuments at the site consist of three main elements, the ‘King’s Men’ – a circle of about seventy stones, probably dating to around 2500 BC, the ‘King Stone’ – a solitary weathered monolith dated to 1792 BC, and the ‘Whispering Knights’, the remains of the burial chamber of a Middle to Late Neolithic portal dolmen, estimated to date to between 3800 and 3000 BC. There are also two further monuments, both almost completely destroyed, a round cairn (a roughly hemispherical burial mound constructed primarily of stones), and a ditched round barrow (a hemispherical burial mound).
Though not as grand and well preserved as the Avebury or Stonehenge ritual landscapes, the Rollright monuments possess their own unique atmosphere, and have attracted a wealth of supernatural folklore over the centuries involving witches, fairies, invading ‘Danes’, and the famous prophetess Mother Shipton.  Indeed the monuments in the area seem to have attracted more legends than almost any other prehistoric site in England.
The earliest known belief about the stones, that they were petrified men, is first mentioned in Camden’s Britannia, written in Latin, in 1586, which states that ‘the common people usually call them Rolle-rick stones, and dreameth that they were sometimes men by a wonderful Metamorphosis turned into hard stones’.
Writing in the journal Folklore (September,1902) Percy Manning mentions perhaps the earliest appearance of a well known rhyme about the Rollright Stones, added as manuscript notes to his copy of Dr. R. Plot’s Natural History of Oxfordshire, (2nd edition. 1705):
Said the Danish General,
If Long Compton I cou’d see
Then King of England I shou’d be.
But reply’d the [" British " erased] Saxon General,
Then rise up Hill & stand fast Stone-
For King of England thou’lt be none.

By the mid nineteenth century the ‘Saxon General’ had been replaced by a witch. The witch confronts a conquering king at Rollright who is a few steps away from the crest of the ridge from where the village of Long Compton, lying in the valley below, is visible. According to the most complete version of the tale, collected by Arthur Evans from local people and published in Folklore in 1895, the witch stopped the King in his tracks by saying:

Seven long strides shalt thou take, and if Long Compton thou canst see, King of England thou shalt be.

Realizing that the village would certainly be visible from the edge of the hill the King strode forward shouting:

Stick, stock, stone, As King of England I shall be known!

Taking seven strides forward the King was suddenly confronted by a long mound of earth rising up magically before him (the mound of earth which still stands next to the King Stone) and blocking his view of the valley below. The witch then said:

As Long Compton thou canst not see
King of England thou shalt not be.
Rise up, stick, and stand still, stone,
For King of England thou shalt be none,
Thou and thy men hoar stones shall be
And I myself an eldern-tree.

The Whispering Knights at Rollright 
And so the King and his army became the King Stone and King’s Men stone circle and the witch became an elder tree. The Whispering Knights were said to be a group of soldiers huddled together plotting treachery against the King when they were also turned to stone by the witch. The witch in this tale was sometimes identified as the mythical prophetess ‘Mother Shipton’, probably for no other reason than the proximity to Rollright of a village called Shipton-under-Wychwood.
As this folktale shows the stones have a connection in the popular imagination with witchcraft, though how far back this connection goes is not clear. Writing in the magazine 3rd Stone (Winter 2000/2001) folklorist Jennifer Westwood has shown that both the witch and the related elder tree elements of Rollright folklore are of comparatively recent date, there being no evidence for either motif earlier than the mid nineteenth century in stories from the site.

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Unsolvedmystery - At about eleven in the morning on 6/28/1914 the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg, were riding in the Bosnian city of Sarajevo when a young Bosnian Serb, Gavrilo Princip shot and killed them both. This led to an Austrian ultimatum upon Serbia and then a declaration of war. Russia then came in on the side of Serbia, and Germany rushed to aid their ally, Austria. Fearing that France might attack while Germany was engaged in the fight against Russia, the German leaders invaded France, hoping to knock the French out of the war before the Russians could mobilize. They chose to invade by crossing Belgium, which brought Britain into the war. The massive carnage and waste of WWI led to communism (fascism) in Russia, and, later, to fascism in Germany and Italy, and, hence, to WWII, which in turn set the stage for all the horrors that would follow, right up to the present day. And yet there was one man who might have prevented all of it by preventing Russia from entering the war.

Most historical accounts tell us that the Russian Orthodox monk Rasputin was a depraved and even deranged individual with a sinister influence on the Czarina. But history is written by the servants of the power elite, and often lies or fails to tell the whole truth. Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin was probably born 1/22/1869, but the date is uncertain. We do know that he was born of a peasant family in Pokrovskoye, Siberia. Even as a child he had a reputation as a mystic, and supposedly once had a vision of the Virgin Mary, and, at age eighteen, spent three months in the Verkhoturye Monastery. He married Praskovia Fyodorovna Dubrovina in 1889, and the couple had three children. He also fathered a child with another woman, and the accusations that he was an adulterous womanizer and a drunk, while exaggerated by his enemies, are basically true. Like all of us, Rasputin was a morally flawed man. His enemies also accused him of taking bribes after his reputation and influence had expanded, but there is no hard proof of this. In 1903 he travelled to St. Petersburg, then the capital of Russia, and gained a reputation as a “starets,” or holy man. He was opposed to war, stood up for the rights of the peasants, and believed in seeking God within rather than through the established clergy. Prince Alexei was a hemophiliac, and there is no doubt that Rasputin, while unable to effect a complete cure, saved his life more than once by praying for him. The results, well documented, were miraculous. It is this that gave him influence over the Czarina, and, through her, over the Czar. Possibly he could have persuaded the Czar not to declare war on the Austro-Hungarian Empire, in which case the war would have been limited to Austria and Serbia. But we will never know.

On 6/29/1914, the day after the assassination of the Austrian Archduke, Rasputin was stabbed and severely injured by a woman named Khionia Guseva, who was a disciple of the monk Iliodor. Iliodor, whose true given name was Sergei Michailovich Trufanov, was a member of the Black Hundreds, an ultra-nationalist society that wanted, not increasing liberalization, but a return to more autocratic rule. The entire organization was rabidly anti-Semitic. There seems little doubt that Iliodor was behind the attack on Rasputin, although there is no hard proof that the stabbing was ordered by the leaders of the Black Hundreds. Yet this strange cult has much in common with other secret or semi-secret societies that have played such a sinister role in human history. Whatever the case, while Rasputin was hospitalized, the Czar made the fatal error of entering the war, setting the stage for his own downfall.

But the murder of the Austrian Archduke was itself a conspiracy, of which Gavrilo Princip was but one member. The little band of bomb throwers and gunmen had been sent into action by a mysterious secret society, the Black Hand, which existed within the Serbian Army, much as the Black Dragon Society would later infiltrate the Japanese military. It was based primarily within the Serbian intelligence service, and its leader was “Apis,” or “Bee,” whose real name was Col. Dragutin Dimitrijevic, the Chief of Military Intelligence. Serbian Crown Prince Alexander knew of the group, and supported them. Intelligence services the world over have often been infiltrated and taken over by mysterious secret societies; for example, the American CIA and its WWII predecessor, the OSS (Office of Special Services) was from the beginning heavily dominated by members of Yale University’s Skull and Bones Society. Skull and Bones is itself Chapter 322 of an older German society, apparently called the Order of Death, which is almost certainly the Bavarian Illuminati or a branch thereof. Yet there is no hard proof of any link between the Black Hand and the Black Hundreds, other than the word “Black” and the fact that they were both Slavic nationalist groups. Still, the war was set off by one secret society, and another, the very next day, wounded the one man who might have prevented its expansion. This is stretching coincidence rather thin.

And the Black Hundreds were not done with Rasputin. On 12/29/1916 in St. Petersburg Vladimir Purishkevich, Felix Yusupov, and Grand Duke Dimitri Pavlovich shot him several times and threw him into an icy river. Details are contradictory, but he may have been poisoned before being shot, and supposedly he was still alive when thrown into the river, as water was found in his lungs when the body was recovered, indicating a death by drowning. Yusupov was rumored to be a homosexual, since he sometimes dressed as a woman, and the Grand Duke was said to be bisexual, although he was also a notorious womanizer. All three were noblemen, and Purishkevich was definitely one of the leaders of the Black Hundreds. The others may also have been members, but there is no real evidence one way or the other. In addition, Rasputin was shot with a large caliber revolver not commonly found in Russia, but two officers from British Intelligence were in St. Petersburg at the time of his murder, and one of them, Lt. Oswald Rayner, had such a weapon…a .455 Webley revolver. Rayner, according to his chauffeur’s diary, had met with Yusupov just prior to the killing. At the very least this hints at a marriage of convenience between the Black Hundreds and British Intelligence. Russia was Britain’s ally in the war, and it would be against Britain’s interest for Rasputin to persuade the Czar to make a separate peace. Hard proof of an overall conspiracy is lacking, but the war was certainly brought about and widened into a greater conflict by two Slavic secret societies and British Intelligence.

And I have written elsewhere of the overall evidence that all the major wars of this final century were rigged, and the evidence that, historically speaking, the century really began in 1913 and will end in 2012. WWI then ended (in 1918) an even five years into the century, and the cease fire, November eleventh at eleven in the morning, adds up to the mystical Masonic number…thirty three.

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Smallest mammoths found on Crete

Unsolvedmystery - The smallest mammoth ever known to have existed roamed the island of Crete millions of years ago, researchers say.

Adults were roughly the size of a modern baby elephant, standing over a metre tall at the shoulders.

Remains were discovered more than a century ago, but scientists had debated whether the animal was a mammoth or an ancient elephant.

A new analysis of the animal's teeth suggests it falls closer to the mammoth lineage.

Palaeontologists Victoria Herridge and Adrian Lister, from London's Natural History Museum, report their findings in the Royal Society journal Proceedings B.

"Dwarfism is a well-known evolutionary response of large mammals to island environments," said Dr Herridge.

This evolutionary phenomenon is thought to be driven by the relative scarcity of food sources or by the absence of predators.

"Our findings show that on Crete, island dwarfism occurred to an extreme degree, producing the smallest mammoth known so far," she added.

The teeth analysed in the study were originally collected by fossil hunter Dorothea Bate in 1904. They were first thought to belong to dwarf forms of the straight-tusked elephant Palaeoloxodon antiquus, which is considered the evolutionary ancestor of all dwarf elephants.

But comparisons with other ancient elephant and mammoth species suggest it was more closely related to the latter, assigning it to the species Mammuthus creticus.

They suggest the mammoth could have reached the island as early as 3.5 million years ago.

The team also used an upper foreleg or "arm" bone to estimate the mammal's size.

"The arm bone in particular gives us the best evidence so far for how big - or rather, how small - this dwarf mammoth really was," said Dr Herridge

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