In the 17th and 18th centuries, Ile Sainte-Marie (or St. Mary’s Island as it is known in English), a long, thin island off the eastern African coast, became a popular base for pirates.
Up to 1,000 pirates reportedly called the rocky island home, including widely-feared brigands Adam Baldridge, William Kidd, Olivier Levasseur, Henry Every, Robert Culliford, Abraham Samuel and Thomas Tew. They lived in the île aux Forbans, an island located in the bay of Sainte Marie’s main town, Ambodifotatra.
This place was not far from the maritime routes along which ships returning from the East Indies sailed in transit, their holds overflowing with wealth, it was provided with bays and inlets protected from storms and finally, it had abundant fruit and was situated in quiet waters.
The beautiful tropical island’s numerous inlets and bays made it the perfect place to hide ships. The pirates sailed mostly from England, Portugal, France and America to make this island off the coast of Madagascar a home, a hideout and a strategic place.
With so many pirates abiding on the island, some even raising families at the time, it’s no wonder Sainte-Marie claims to have what may be the world’s only legitimate pirate cemetery.
In the center of the cemetery, there is a large black tomb that locals say is the final resting place of Captain Kidd, buried there in an upright position to punish him for his sins.
The pirates were off Ile Sainte-Marie by the late 1700s, when the French seized the island. It wasn’t returned to Madagascar until 1960. The utopian pirate republic of Libertalia was also rumored to exist in this area, although the republic’s existence, let alone its location, has never been proven.
A recently discovered map from 1733 by John de Bry, an archaeologist working on shipwrecks in the area, called the land mass the “Island of Pirates” and identified the location of three pirate ship wrecks.
So many pirate legends are floating around Sainte-Marie, but, is this cemetery authentic? Everyone on the island, including government tourism officials, of course, claim it is. However, dead pirates or not, this cemetery is one of Madagascar’s most popular tourist destinations.
By now many of us are at least to some extent acquainted with Sir Thomas Malory’s classic tale of the Lady of the Lake and how she gave Excalibur to King Arthur, or the tale told in Robert de Boron’s poem of Merlin about the magical sword in the stone that could be drawn out only by the rightful ruler of the land.
They differ in some aspects, but both speak of the same Arthurian legend and a mighty sword that could only be swung by a man worthy to hold it in possession. This story about a powerful weapon identified with a single hero is as old as time. Whereas in this specific legend it was Excalibur for King Arthur, ancient Greek mythology speaks of many magical swords. Other legendary blades include Crocea Mors, the sword belonging to Julius Caesar, which was considered to hold supernatural powers, and for Attila the Hun it was the Sword of Mars. Most recently, in George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, it is the Lightbringer, the sword of Azor Ahai.
“In this dread hour, a warrior shall draw from the fire a burning sword. And that sword shall be Lightbringer, the Red Sword of Heroes, and he who clasps it shall be Azor Ahai come again, and the darkness shall flee before him.”
While all these stories tell of individuals who drew their swords out of fire or a stone to aid mankind in times when it was needed the most, a statue in Norway speaks of a time when groups and individuals put their petty differences aside and even buried them, so they could put an end to bloodshed and stand united under the same flag.
Little is known of the particular event, but what information that exists points to a great battle that took place in 872 on one of the fjords in Norway. The Battle of Hafrsfjord, as it is known today, was the result of a long-lasting conflict between three different factions and their leaders in Western Norway, among whom was Harald Fair Hair (Harald Hårfagre), son of Halfdan the Black Gudrödarson.
“The Saga of Harald Fairhair” (Heimskringla) is a Scandinavian saga that was written two centuries after the event. According to the story, the Hordaland-Rogaland and Agder-Thelemark factions were advancing with their troops towards Hafrsfjord, they were met there by the strong force of Harald Fair Hair, who was on a mission to unite the Norwegians who up until then lived in small tribes and villages.
The Norwegian tribes led a warring life, constantly fighting with one another. According to the legend, Harold, who was in love with Gyda, the daughter of King Erik of Hordaland, had to convince her of his love and devotion by uniting the tribes and thus putting an end to all the fighting between them once and for all. He was the son of a king who wanted to marry the daughter of rival one, and she was the daughter of a king who despised the man who wanted her hand. So marriage was not an option if peace between the two was not reached.
Harold, prior to the battle, had taken rulership over several small kingdoms in Vestfold, and continued with his conquest believing that negotiating peace from a position of strength would bring more fruition to his noble cause, and a better chance to negotiate the terms with the father of his loved one. But as he was growing in strength and force, the other kings allied against him and planned a secretive attack. News spread from the south that Erik of Hordaland, King Sulke of Rogaland, Earl Sote, the King of Agder and brothers Hroald and Had the Hard from Thelemark had joined forces and were headed towards the mainland with a large fleet.
This was a clear indication that an imminent attack was on the way and there was no space for a peaceful resolution. As a result, Harald assembled his troops and intercepted them at Hafrsfjord, where a great battle was set in motion, in which many, including King Eirik, lost their lives. In the midst of all the dead bodies spread around the battlefield, Harald was the last man standing and his troops fortunate to see the light of day. Many fled to the nearby Icelandic islands, and everyone left on the land came to live united under the rulership of King Harald Fair Hair, the first King of Norway.
His mission was completed. Harald got to marry Erik’s daughter, but at a devastating cost. This story is more of a romanticized legend than of actual historical evidence, and complete peace and unity took probably hundreds of years to be achieved. However, this battle is considered the greatest contributor to the unification of Norway into one country.
Three giant Viking swords are now forever embedded in solid stone on a Nordic hill in Hafrsfjord, and stand tall against the sun as a reminder of an ancient battle that eventually unified the kingdoms of Norway and its people into one nation. The swords were forced through solid rock so that they can never be removed and such a battle never to occur again. They stand for peace, unity, and freedom, and the place where they are impaled is near the city of Stavanger in the Rogaland region.
The memorial itself is named “Sverd i fjell” (swords in rock) and was constructed in 1983 by sculptor Fritz Røed upon the request of King Olav V. It consists of three bronze swords, each higher than 30 feet. The highest represents the sword of King Harald Fair Hair, while the other two symbolize the opposing factions
It stands proudly as a tourist attraction, and a historical reminder for Norwegians never to draw a weapon again against fellow countrymen.
A lady-like specter glides through the shadowy arboreal tunnel of intertwined branches bent over the Bregagh Road in County Antrim in Northern Ireland.
Many say it’s the ghost of a maid from a nearby house who died mysteriously long ago. Others think it’s Margareth “Cross Peggy” Stuart, the daughter of a previous owner of the land, James Stuart. Some even suggest it’s a lost spirit from a deserted and long-lost graveyard, believed to lay hidden somewhere in the nearby fields.
On some nights, the forgotten graves are said to open up and she is joined on her walk among the bent trunks by the tortured souls of those once so dear, and now dead, buried beside her. Whatever her tormented past was, the locals call her the Gray Lady of The Dark Hedges, and she is believed to haunt the long ominous road beneath the huge domed crown of gnarled branches.
This spooky yet magnificent avenue of beech trees was planted by the Stuart family in the eighteenth century, with the intention to serve as an impressive entrance for visitors who approached their Georgian mansion, Gracehill House. Although the family had owned the estate for over a century, it was not until 1775 that one of Irwin Stuart’s children, James, decided to build a home for his family there, and name it after his wife, Grace Lynd.
As soon as they settled in, he acquired and planted 150 beech trees in two opposing rows to create an imposing road leading toward their estate. James believed that by doing so he was creating a stylish and grand look for their residence.
However, as years passed, and the trees matured, they began to bend over the road and their branches intermingled, thus creating an atmospheric tunnel and a very scenic road indeed. What James planned as the centerpiece of his home two centuries later became an unusually serene and spellbinding tunnel of ancient beech trees along the Bregagh Road, north of Belfast.
Intertwining and entangling, the branches of the trees form a dramatic union of light and shadow, making the roadway truly magnificent, a real gem of nature, and one of the most photographed natural phenomena in Northern Ireland.
The life span of a typical Fagus sylvatica L., commonly known as the beech tree, is 150 to 200 years, but they can achieve an age of up to 350 years .
A survey was commenced in 2014 of more than 94 beech trees as part of a Heritage Lottery Funded project. Authorized by the Dark Hedges Preservation Trust and the Causeway Coast & Glens Heritage Trust, the survey confirmed that the tree thrives here and often reaches the greater age of maturity, which is rare. According to the survey, when mature, the beech tree can grow to a height of more than 40 meters and form an enormous domed crown at the top. This transformed the treeline into a scenic backdrop, one that can be utilized in the creation of some unique and memorable television series, or movie sequences for instance.
And so it did, for the iconic trees of County Antrim were used as a filming location in HBO’s epic series Game of Thrones, representing the King’s Road in Season 2, Episode 1: “On the King’s Road.” In it, after Arya Stark, disguised as a boy, escaped successfully from King’s Landing, this was the path she took along with her companions Gendry and Hot Pie and began her journey north toward the Night’s Watch in the back of a cart.
Prior to that, to ensure the preservation of the trees, the Department of the Environment (NI) Planning Service in 2004 placed a Tree Preservation Order on the Dark Hedges, and five years later the Dark Hedges Preservation Trust was formed. Backed by Heritage Lottery Funding, the Trust aims to conserve and enhance this phenomenon, as well as to protect the remaining 90 trees that survive out of the 150 originally planted centuries ago.
Aside from the huge increase in traffic generated by people who now were eager to see this fantastical and dreamy place, the Dark Hedges had to endure even more hardship in 2016, when Northern Ireland was hit by Storm Gertrude. Two of the trees were completely destroyed, and many others heavily damaged during the storm.
As the place’s popularity increased, the number of people visiting it grew, and this raised concerns as to how the trees, being surface rooting, would handle the increase in traffic, or the graffiti left behind by vandals.
As a result, at the very start of this year, the Department of Infrastructure, to preserve the site from degradation and possible damage, announced plans to eventually close the road to traffic.
Since their rediscovery in the 16th century, Rome’s catacombs have dazzled the archaeological community. The ancient underground burial networks are a famed burial site both for Christians and for people who worshiped any of the earlier Roman religions.
Underneath the city, people were either placed in distinct catacombs or buried together. It began as early as the 2nd century AD, when inhumation had become a more common funerary practice. Christians at the time typically opted for burials instead cremations, as they believed in bodily resurrection at the Second Coming.
As an extremely important site, Rome’s ancient catacombs represent an epic monument of the ancient empire and the inception of Christianity. Moreover, the catacombs also provide an invaluable contribution to the history of early Christian art. They have been a treasured site with a plethora of frescoes, sculptures, or gold-glass medallions among other items, which widely exemplify the artwork done before 400 AD.
The exploration and excavation of Rome’s hidden tunnels seem to be a continual work in progress. The discoveries have never ceased to surprise us. Not only have new chambers been identified in recent decades, but so have new precious artifacts.
In May 2017, restorers put the finishing touches on a seven-year restoration work of two underground burial rooms in the Catacombs of Domitilla. Thanks to their effort, two long-hidden frescoes, which were likely commissioned approximately 1,600 years ago by bakers in the city, have been revealed.
The Catacombs of Domitilla, named after Saint Domitilla, expand over 11 miles of underground caves. As large and impressive as they are, they are exceptional for several other reasons. They are the oldest of Rome’s catacombs, and the only ones still containing bones. Reportedly, they alone have been the burial site of almost 150,000 bodies.
The Domitilla Catacombs are also the best-preserved and the most extensive of all ancient burial networks beneath the city. Among their treasures and invaluable artifacts is a 2nd-century fresco of the Last Supper.
Lurking under a chalky deposit and algae domesticated after centuries of being abandoned, new frescoes have been found. Experts have used lasers and scanning technology to restore the paintings, stripping away the deposits, layer by layer. The technique used has never before been applied in catacombs.
As the layers have been removed, numerous images have slowly started to emerge on the surface, depicting figures from the Old and New Testament, and also vignettes related to the baker’s trade.
According to Barbara Mazzei, who had been supervising the restoration work on behalf the Vatican’s Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archaeology, the restorers have accomplished the work “millimeter by millimeter.”
One of the scenes revealed in the frescoes depicts the deceased accompanied by two saints. The saints may be Nereus and Achilleus, who were two martyrs, most likely killed under Emperor Diocletian and buried here. According to the experts, all evidence shows the frescoes’ origin dates back to the second half of the fourth century when a similar type of iconography was common.
Restoration projects at the catacombs are set to continue further, as there are still more chambers that are in poor condition. It might mean that new finds just may be on their way.
A new museum, to be inaugurated in June, is to showcase artifacts dating from the 2nd to the 5th century from several catacombs in Rome. The collection is certain to shed light on how paganism and Christian faith were mysteriously intertwined together in the early Church.
Striding along with your hands in your pants pockets is often associated with being carefree–unless you are a woman. Then you might be lucky if your pants even have pockets. And if they do, they are likely to be flimsy and shallow. They seem to be for ornamentation and not much else.
In contrast, men’s garments seem to be full of pockets–secret pockets tucked inside the lapels of their jackets, pockets in their work shirts and T-shirts, sometimes pockets within other pockets. And most of these pockets are sturdy and deep, made for real utility.
There’s a gender divide when it comes to clothing and pockets, and there’s good reason why many women fume –or ought to–about the situation.
Centuries ago–think the 17th century–what passed for “pockets” were actually pouches, tied around the waists of both men and women. The large skirts of that time period meant that women could wear the pouches on the outside or hide them by tying them on their waists under their skirts.
As the Industrial Revolution swept the world, people had more to carry. But while men’s pouches became incorporated into the clothing itself, women’s were not. And with full skirts falling out of fashion, the hidden pouch option became less viable. Women were forced to carry larger external purses, which also meant at least one hand was needed to hold or secure the purse, often while the other struggled with children.
That loss of freedom did not go unnoticed, and pockets of resistance began to emerge.
In 1891, the Rational Dress Society was founded in London to lobby against corsets and other restrictive clothing and push for more comfortable and utilitarian options for women.
Its self-described mission was this: “The Rational Dress Society protests against the introduction of any fashion in dress that either deforms the figure, impedes the movements of the body, or in any way tends to injure the health. It protests against the wearing of tightly-fitting corsets; of high-heeled shoes; of heavily-weighted skirts, as rendering healthy exercise almost impossible; and of all tie down cloaks or other garments impeding on the movements of the arms. It protests against crinolines or crinolettes of any kind as ugly and deforming….[It] requires all to be dressed healthily, comfortably, and beautifully, to seek what conduces to birth, comfort and beauty in our dress as a duty to ourselves and each other.”
Charlotte Carmichael Stopes, a member of the Rational Dress Society, managed to get added to the speakers list of the 1889 meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. She educated them on the inequities, danger, and discomfort of women’s wear at the time. Her speech, in which she talked about combining grace and beauty with comfort and convenience, was carried by newspapers throughout Britain. Her message was the biggest news to come out of the event.
And in 1905, Charlotte P. Gilman of the New York Times also pointed out the discrepancies: “One supremacy there is in men’s clothing … its adaptation to pockets.”
Some have attempted to make changes. Famed designer Coco Chanel began sewing pockets into her distinctive jackets in the 1920s.
Changing roles also influenced the movement. During World War II, when many women had to take on jobs that were traditionally male, they took on their more practical clothing, as well. They found themselves practically swooning with the freedom offered by pants with pockets.
In the 1960 and 1970s, many women began wearing pants more regularly – adopting the sturdy, multi-pocketed Levis blue jeans that had long been worn by working men. But by the 1980s, even blue jeans were sexualized and corrupted. Tight-fighting, flimsier “designer” models emerged, with pockets a woman could barely put her hands in. Women also were charged a premium price for the lower quality product.
More and better clothing with useful pockets is emerging, but as most women could tell you, these items are the exception. Anthropologists who study the issue put the blame on male dominance in the fashion industry. The designers complain pockets get in the way of a product’s “clean lines,” but some women complain clothing should be more about function, rather than presenting the woman as a form to be appreciated for appearance only. Others say the lack of pockets is a ploy to sell purses.
These days, the argument is spilling into new ground. Much of what passes for women’s workout gear has been pared down to minimal sports bras and yoga pants. And in the outdoor industry, where utilitarian clothing can be matter of life and death, gender differences are still clear.
In general, the fabrics in men’s clothing is of higher quality, and the pants and shirts have bigger, stronger pockets and more of them. With the pace of change moving at a limp, many women are responding in the only way they know how: picking up more practical clothing from the men’s lines.
Terri Likens‘ byline has appeared in newspapers around the world through The Associated Press. She has also done work for ABCNews, the BBC, and magazines that include High Country News, American Profile, and Plateau Journal. She lives just east of Nashville, Tenn.
Sir Isaac Newton’s three laws of motion were first published in 1687 and continue to give a pretty accurate account of nature (with a few exceptions, like the behavior of things in distant space or inside of atoms). They represent some of humankind’s first great successes at using simple mathematical formulas to describe the natural world and form an elegant and intuitive physical theory that paved the way for later advances in physics. These laws apply to objects in the real world and have allowed us to do things like simulate car collisions, navigate spacecraft, and play billiards really well. Whether we are aware of them or not, Newton’s laws of motion are at play in nearly every physical action of our daily lives.
The First Law
Newton’s first law states that unless a body (such as a rubber ball, car, or planet) is acted upon by some force, a body in motion tends to remain in motion and a body at rest tends to remain at rest. This postulate is known as the law of inertia. What this means, practically speaking, is that a rolling ball or other object only slows down because of forces like gravity and friction. Even more intuitively, a resting ball isn’t going anywhere unless given a nudge or a toss. Given this law, a ball thrown in the vacuum of space would, theoretically, keep traveling at the same speed for as long as it could avoid impacts with celestial bodies and their pulls of gravity!
The Second Law
Newton’s second law is a quantitative description of the changes that a force can produce on the motion of a body. It states that when an external force acts on a body, it produces an acceleration(change in velocity) of the body in the direction of the force. This postulate is most commonly written as F = ma, where F (force) and a (acceleration) are both vector quantities and thus have both magnitude and direction, and m (mass) is constant. Although it may sound a bit dense, Newton’s second law is one of the most important in all of physics and, like the first law, is also pretty intuitive. For example, think of a small rubber ball and a bowling ball. In order to get them to roll together at the same speed, you would need to push harder (apply more force) on the larger, heavier bowling ball because it has greater mass. Similarly, if the two balls are rolling together down a hill, you can predict that the bowling ball will hit a wall with more damaging force than the smaller ball. This is because its force is equal to the product of its mass and acceleration.
The Third Law
Newton’s third law states that when two bodies interact, they apply forces to one another that are equal in magnitude and opposite in direction. This is commonly referred to as the law of action and reaction (commonly stated as “every action has an equal and opposite reaction”). This idea is clearly seen in the recoil of a gun: the explosion of the bullet leaving the barrel causes the gun to quickly move in the opposite direction. A little less intuitive, but just as true, is the fact that a book resting on a table applies a downward force equal to its weight on the table, and the table applies an equal and opposite force to the book. This force occurs because the weight of the book causes the table to deform slightly so that it pushes back on the book like a coiled spring. If the table were unable to do so, the weight of the book would break it.