Fun_People Archive
31 May
Archaeological Discoveries from the Roman Army

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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Fri, 31 May 96 12:20:49 -0700
To: Fun_People
Subject: Archaeological Discoveries from the Roman Army

Forwarded-by: (m.b.komor)
Forwarded-by: Lee Thompson-Herbert <>
Forwarded-by: owner-irtrad-l@IRLEARN.UCD.IE
From: Michael Robinson <maidhc@NETCOM.COM>

Sensational new discoveries have been made at an archaeological dig at the
site of a Roman army camp near Hadrian's Wall.  When the legions were
evacuated, orders were sent out to destroy all valuable military records.
However, in the far-flung camps, lazy army bureaucrats simply pitched all
the files into the nearest bog.  Now archaeologists are recovering all the
records, preserved in the highly tannic bog water.

Among the latest discoveries is what appears to be a Latin translation of
a Pictish folk-song.  No doubt the lonely legionaries on sentry duty on the
wall heard the melodic strains drifting on the wind from the Pictish
encampments to the north.  Just as Allied troops in North Africa during WWII
adopted "Lili Marlene" from the Germans, so the Roman soldiers must have
learned this traditional Pictish melody, which is the earliest folksong
recorded in the British Isles.

Of particular interest is the chorus of syllabic vocables, remarkably
similar to the Gaelic waulking song which is not found in written records
until almost 1000 years later.  In fact, a remarkable similar chorus of
        I\ aigh i\ aigh o\
can be found in a waulking song from Skye, "Tha baile aig sean-Mhac a'
Domhnuill", in the Frances Tolmie collection.

Following is a transcription of the original manuscript:

  Senex Macdonaldus habebat fundum, EIEIO
  Et in ille fundum habebat porces, EIEIO
  Cum oink oink hic, oink oink hoc
  Oink hic, oink hoc, ubique oink oink
  Senex Macdonaldus habebat fundum, EIEIO

  ... habebat boves ... cum moo moo hic
  ... habebat oves ... cum baa baa hic
  ... habebat anates ... cum quack quack hic

--Michael Robinson

[Serious note:  The first paragraph is true.  I heard this song at a folk
festival in Lancashire a few years back.  I don't remember the name of the
performer, but I thought the idea was rather humourous and I reconstructed
the song later on.  Once an audience member told me that the song was just
as tedious in Latin as it was in English!  But since it was requested, here
it is, along with my introductory banter.]

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