Bronze Age Odin
Since many want to be a leader it is easy to see Odin as the leader of the tribe. I doubt it always was so. Others maybe saw it as the leading aspect in man. In the Ritual Age there were seemingly no leader since the priest or priestess read the will of deities.
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All living being organise themselves up to their manners and population. Those living in small groups do not need the same prefect organisation as the very big populations. This thesis is valid also for humankind in small and big developed sites around the world. Capitalists and technocrats are true Texas-philosophy and set quality in everything big and that counts many units. Unfortunately the big is wearing and tearing the surroundings and like many old cultures destined to fall out.
In small communities equality become rule as a natural solution. In the Edda it is expressed in the saying even, equally high and third. The known pair is the first link in the chain that continues with the unknown third.
The Roman historians told that the Germans had no leaders like the sitting Caesar ... yet, maybe some had a leader. On the thing they choose leader for special purposes and time ... we choose parliament every fourth year.
During the last millennium BC the big men came to the rocks and were cut over the old pictures. The "Half" or the dwarf is along and is maybe the helper Tjalve, not supposed to have a head. Ordinary people are just bones. The spear is the novelty, nevertheless still the gestures are ritual symbolism.
We do not know much about the rule of the Romans in the provinces. However we know that they in some respect set up colons and stelae to the gods in the provinces. Sometimes they were pure native and sometimes a mix with a Roman god as the highest. Mars Thingsus was one of the names and it tells that they equalised a war god with a peaceful judge god. We may also ask if the Roman military legatus was the highest judge? Up to Northern legend the one armed Tyr was the icon for a judge.
From the early medieval documents and earlier find we may ask if they had two lawmen at the Pan-Geat Thing. In the text from Ugarit in the Levant we know that the Twins were law readers. Every god and symbol item has mostly a sophisticated meaning and a practical purpose in everyday life. That was the analysis of the society studied and completed during ages to follow the needs of the people. Pure ancestors' cult will not give the daily bread.
Hard to find any evidence of real fights on the rocks. There are no pictures where swords or spears hurt another figures. Either there are no figures on the ground with someone above with a weapon. If there were it is still not evidence for local fights, since it might by a saga or referring to another place. Finds of wounded bones and skulls are few and that may be up to the normal behaviour of man. We have simply no digging covering a big area for a long time, that could be used as evidence.
Thing are seldom what they look like. In Egypt are on some places many remains after wounded and killed people. Some ancient Greek traveller told that in one place it was custom to have "village fights" at least once a year. Maybe it was in connection with the Seth cult?
There are many weapons on the rocks. The most visible are in ritual gestures showing virtual borders for a territory or a law room. We call them law codes and rules, but they saw them as nearly physical spaces with borders. Less visible are the swords as some status symbol for the figures. Most of them have a bird-head or else not humans head and might be just idols.
Surely they in practise used what they had at hand. The ritual weapon we see is more sophisticated than a normal axe made for work. We see the balta sometimes lying on a ship with the edge towards the sky to sanctify the space under it. Many of them are made as art to be beautiful at the same time they are ritual pieces.
According to the medieval province law of Zealand they used a variant of this thinking. When a peasant should take a field out of common ground he used his sickle and throw it over a bit of common land ... I hope he trained before ... Anyhow, when done with witnesses the land was sanctified for a new member of the village.
Some carvings are clearly made on one occasion and for ritual purpose. In these cases we can try to interpret what we see and perhaps come nearer the truth than just speculating around. Laukeberget is one of the largest ritual carvings. This section is the beginning of a clear half circle of pictures in moments. Maybe we here se some of the main idols from the Edda at this early stage during Bronze Age.
The one-armed Tyr
The one-armed we can suppose to be Tyr god of thing. It can also be compared to figures with cut arms in Egypt and other places used to specify a certain star. However in the oral tradition there should be a story about the idol. The gods tied the beast Fenrisulven with non-existing thing or in fact words. That is the method to choose some stars as a certain observation point. We se the wolf/dog/fox in many places in the figurative art and it is a line between the dog and some other stars across the round. Usually a line to the Crab. However once they made the story they found that a man with experience of pain could also understand victims and other hurt people, so what, he could be an idol for a judge.
Messengers of gods
Birds of gods …..….. ...
Above Tyr we see a figure without arms. It is quite common in Bohuslaen and in Östergautland. Then what did they say with that. It shows that the idol was not fit for work or be with working people. Is he a god or does it show that he leave the decisions to others? Other idols have bird-head and some have horns, which may show that they are just virtual beings. If we search for a Northern idol with some of the characteristic it is Hanno from Fyn, Denmark according to Saxo Grammaticus. Hanno always said, "may others decide", which means democracy if he is the symbolic leader.
This illustration is from the Edda of Ólafur Brynúlfsson.
Tjatse, the night frost has taken the apples of Idun and fly away in the guise of an eagle. Loke try to spear it on a pale but fastens on the pole and gets a wild flight. Once we got the clue we can spin on and tell the whole tale.
We see the scene on Laukeberget above the ship. The figure in the peak is made in the same way as they picture eagles in later pictures. Someone is clearly hanging from the pale. There is also a one-stroked footprint IPA and a symbol URBANEK, that we find in Haugsbyn marking Loke as Capricorn.
On right side and above this picture is the mourning mother that may us thing about the Balder's myth. To read this scene as the murder with the mistletoe is easy, with the helping Loke behind.
It is not the spear but the torque that makes us think about a leader.
Is it fiction or had they leaders like this? In the Celtic feudal culture the ring shows that he has given his neck to his tribe or league. The Celtic oppida" and the hill-forts may be remains of a place for a chieftain. Was it just an island in the big land or were a big land ruled by the chieftain. Our archaeologists measure often with our time and want to see big bosses everywhere. Still it does not fit into the idea of Celts ruled by their druids!
Never will we know for sure if some places were lead in this way. Neither can we know in how many places and how big lands were ruled by leader. Were they ritual or chiefs, we will not know that either. I have my doubts since I know how sparsely populated my own province was in the early Middle Age. Another fact is the find of golden collars and rings from the age of Great Migration in Vaestergautland.
We know the principles of feudalism from the Hittites, where chieftains within the male league ruled the satelles and one was chosen as ritual leader. The Greek society we can se in the Linear B tablets was organised in that way too.
Our castles from the Middle Age are visible reminds of the era when in feudal nobility the families got their own kingdom. Often it was a family affair. The church became organised in the same way in many places. The only difference was that the church owned the property and it could not be inherited.
However, our province laws speak for general peasants' folkland with lawmen as leaders. If there were nobility they were like islands in the folkland. It is the principle we know from concepts like ornum and birke. Maybe we can see it in some symbolism for instance in Bronze Age Bohuslaen.
The big mounds are dated to Bronze Age. They are perhaps signs of a short period with either chieftains or ritual leaders. We can never prove that. Some of the mound are without any sign of burial and can be symbolic graves of Time. In many of the mounds are later burials or urns. Maybe the new DNA technique can tell us where they belonging to one family or was the mound centre in a "parish".
But back to the little one, who ride sitting backward down the spear. My first association goes to Finland and their old proverb "A little harm is a harm too". The Finns were capitulating officially on a rainy and clayey road in the wilderness. They managed to stand behind a muddy water puddle so that the Russians had to walk thorough it ... in that way the Finns kept their self-respect in that tricky situation.
The Finns have known the high boot since 13th century.
The Amled saga
However overall we have the symbolism in several tales and naturally from Denmark where we see the earliest high society. Saxo Grammaticus tells about the brothers Roar and Helge sons of a king. They became orphans and had to hide for the new ruler. Helge played fool and once he rode sitting backward to fool the suspicious searchers. The same theme we find in the Amled saga, which later was adapted by Shakespeare to Hamlet. Once I read about some rock-carvings with the same figure between the plain and the wooden Dal.
Then it is another question why the little boy sits on the dolphin on one plate from the Gundestrup cauldron.
Anyhow on the carving with the Celt the artist wanted to tell something with his composition. My feeling is that the little speeder does not worry. Maybe he thinks that the range of the spear is limited and the horse is fast ... quite a different attitude compared to one easterner saying "The oxen is slow, but the earth has plenty of patience."
Locally they call this figure the Shoemaker.
Whether it is the little hammer or some old tale behind we do not know. Some very old folktale is about traders asking for skin, because their Queen has no shoes ... and it is hard for a queen to walk barefooted. There is no aggression in the picture and he wears two torques I rather callneck-rings. Is it a picture, a local ritual leader or does he belong to a male league?
The cauldron became naturally famous in a large area around Gundestrup. This is the masterpiece among less than a dozen cauldrons and kettles in South Scandinavia.. Still today every book about Bronze Age have at least a picture of some plate from it.
Cernunnoshas a ring in one hand and a snake in the other. The stag is the central figure. We may read his name as "ker nunnos" meaning "round new" with Celtic word order. He is Perseus in the night sky and many cultures sow a Stag or deer near him. He is symbol of spring with Water-snake as symbol of growing.
The cauldron is made in Southeast Europe but we find the stag-horned idol in Val Camonica too.
The Celts kept usually their secrets and we know little about their higher education as we say. The bronze calendar from Coligny France shows 61 months with alternating 30 and 29 days. It is sign of normal regulated time.
We know about their four main feasts and we know that Jonian philosophers esteemed their Celtic colleagues. We know that Caesar wanted to knock down the proud Celts and rape their women. Even when we know little we must pay respect to our ancestors. They are in our genes and without them we would never have be born.
This coin with the Stag is from Haithabu Schleswig, the trading centre in beginning of Viking Age.
Perhaps it is the oldest symbol we can find and it is the same as the above Cernunnos and the Sames used it too, but some tribes used an elk. Besides the male league had a horse in its place. The latest we see a horse is for instance on the Danish early coins and the runic carvings Sigurd and Gauk. These were almost the same as Yggdrasil. On the runic carvings the horse stand by the tree.
Now we have three other symbols RAS/Ansur, Water-snake and Trinity. The Stag stands at the spring equinox that was the zodiac from Perseus to Pisces. We know that Water-snake begins at Crab. Trinity is indivisible three aspects on the same thing and originally it must have been the three Maids to give birth.
The face Ras in Hittitian was surely a statue of some kind. Some of the early glyphs are a face in profile with the Egyptian IN-symbol on head. We may suggest it was the symbol for the leader ... Many cities in the Levant has a Ras as attribute. So maybe they had a statue as symbol for the city.
In our world the leader was surely Wotan or Odinn known as Waterman/Aquarius and the boat-lifter on our carvings. There is some find in Norway of a stony head. The finds of wooden statues are probably on the same theme and we have several constellations like one head, a pair, a female, twins and tri-heads ... remember it was a multi-culture.
In this male trinity the leader wear a torque and we do not se the holes in his head.
He had probably horns and we normally see them on a bull or Taurus the star constellation below Perseus and Pisces. The name nowadays Kaitos or Whale. The torso is from Dordogne France. We have find of a "trivalde"/tri-head from Glejbjerg near Esbjerg Denmark. On the Gallehus horns from about 400 Ad we see Trivalde with a buck in one hand and an axe in the other. The horned figures are many from the last millennium on our rocks.
In the same symbolism we have in the Edda the trinity Odin, Lodur and Haener as creators of Ask and Embla the first couple. The gods gave the main components air, fire and blood respectively.
When we look closer at this horse we see a complex symbolism.
I think the back of the horse is 2 + serpents. The eight legs symbolise in eight divided year and round in the sky. The four bird-heads are the cardinal directions. In the saddle we see something like a Celtic rose, but when we look closer it is a double spiral and a head as symbol for the trisected moon year.
The Horse naturally symbolised power and movability for the riding nobility. It was favourite on early Danish coins and two runic rock-carvings have the Horse tied to a tree in centre. Most known is the Sigurd carvings where we see symbols of calendar too.
At the same time we can look at this bird from Hovinsaari Finland.
The Bird with B we see in symbolism from the very beginning i.e. 203/4 30000 years before present. In style it is like the horse. Both are made in East Europe. In a frozen grave in Siberia they found a singer with much gifts in the grave. She had a headdress made like a bird. The symbolism with "four of the fix-idols" we know also from Egypt. The earliest are four bullheads on the Narmer palette and in late time it was four Khnums or rams.
Our ancestors had a free imagination and we see often strange symbols or odd symbols. The old law of Island was called Gragàs, which surely means, "grey goose". Maybe it was to remind that law thing had always been in autumn, when we have the Morten Goose or the "blot" and guzzling the goose after the slaughter. As always most of our ancestors were practical and the mind and heart was in the stomach.
When we read about Oden in the Edda style many find it odd that the horse has eight legs. Maybe the writer once wanted someone to remember that he like all the other figures are just fiction. When we use tales about people or animal acting we get the impression of real life and how it works. The imaginative mind may easily find a pattern that fits own problems. I have often spoken with friends about totally different things than my personal problem. Still, after a discussion I had the answer in my head ... in my childhood some neighbours came to grind their tools and for a chat and solved their immediate problem that way. I think women came and borrowed something and got more with them home.
The fundamentalists in the Asa-faith can not think Oden on the ground. It must be another idol and maybe it is. Still this one has a blinded eye. Of course there might have been several tales about a half-blind hero. This plate is from the Vendel Age and the brave warriors usually had them on their helmets. Only a few could afford the luxurious outfit, I believe. Then come the question about leadership in at least a small "kingdom" of their own.
In the Sutton Hoo grave we find this plate with the weapon brothers or Asvins with a very old name. Every league has its own language and terms. We find the brothers earlier as statues in Portugal or on one of the Gallehus horns and of course in the Hittitian symbolism.
In Rigveda they were the guards or kasatrya. Two of a kind symbolised brotherhood or quality. During Roman Age Mithraism was fashion and he was just a symbol of intimate mateship. It is timeless behaviour among individuals gathered in some league. For some reason men's mateship is more holly than that among women?
The most known half-blind expert on spears was naturally Filip of Macedonia who invented the spear phalanx. It was a war-machine when several rows of men with spears attacked in order. The spear could be over four metres long. The carving at Tuna Uppland we see at least eleven spears of different length from 1,5 to 6 metres long. Maybe they just noted what they had heard about that hero.
Humankind has used spear in hunting for long. But we see it in battles only in few paintings in Spain, Africa and maybe e few other places. The early axes we see in ritual gestures. The swords in the big mounds from Bronze Age are hardly used. Other are worn but was it in battle or in training they got the marks and became blunt?
The ritual spear we see as a rule in the last millennium BC. It is puzzling that the male fight seem to have needed rules and that I should be man against man, The use of spear was not an equal fight. We saw the rule of fights and the phalanx until or century's destructive war. Naturally war is war and is a new relativity with very different rules than the relativity field of peace. Man becomes a beast when he leave the last will to equality and trial to use negotiation instead of total destruction. After a war the case is still left to be solved by negotiation. But wisdom is a rare thing.
Still it is obvious that the war machine has escalated in time and at least the generals try to be as far as possible from the war place ... they call it surgical warfare. I have written much about non-violence and trials in negotiation before war. But I understand that in certain circumstances the collective of people can not avoid violence. Only the collective can keep the beast in place. If the beast have no rules it must be learned by force. We loose our self-respect if we let some best kill other people en masse and use ethnic cleansing, which is the fashion when I write this ... but, back to the Celts.
Perhaps he was the biggest hero in Celtic myth at the time.
One of his names was Lugh Lámhfada meaning Lugh Long-arm. He was "sam-ildanách" which means inventor of many things and of course also the long spear. His son CuChulainn speared a hind like Heracles got the hind from Kerenyeia, a mountain.
The Romans called the idol from the British isle Mercurius like the Gaul Sucellos and northern Wotan and maybe they saw the trickster in them. It may have been a cultural collision also in this case, when the Romans had to barter in stead of confiscating and demanding for taxes.
We have some place-names in Southern Scandinavia we can connect to him. Luggude is nearest but he may hide in names like Loke, Lopt; Loft, Loss and we have to go to the earliest known version. In Roman Europe we have names like Lyon, Leon, Loudan, Laon, Leiden, Liegnitz, London and Carlisle they called Luguvalum. To this we can add the possibility that his attributes gave name to places.
Lugh Lamhfáda belongs to the early idols and was surely a fix-star since he is connected to the sun. His grandpa was Balor with "the evil eye". Lugh killed him later with a slingstone in the eye. Mannannan MacLir, the seas, fostered Lugh. We call him Hler or Ler in the Edda. Others tell that Gobniu the smith fostered him, but that is a question about came the inventor before the ironsmith or after. By marrying a deadly woman Dechtire he became father of the wheel CuChulainn, one of the very big late heroes.
In Celtic myth part of the mystery is that we cannot keep apart dead and living heroes at a time in a tale or in reality. Otherworld is part of the discussion and then there is no border between dead and alive. They surely believed in resurrection and that they were living "in the flow" and Underworld. The idols moves between the worlds in the tales and it is hard for us to follow because we are not used to.
Gods are born and become out of date, but inspire other heroes and vanish in history. So it is in real life. The language and cultural heroes like Newton, Columbus, Hoyle, Tolstoy, and so on changes in importance, however they are just "living in their graves". It is a matter of definition and language. We live in several worlds too but with other words.
Thanks to pope Gregorius. He wrote the missionaries and told them to be cautious with old customs. That is why sacred wells were saved near churches. Another area was that the monks and monasteries saved old folk tales to the after-world. Maybe they put some Christianity to it, but it is the only we have.
Actually the difference was not that big. In the Old Testament there is many strange things and mysteries. I suppose people used both halves of their brain and used many imaginative pictures when describing spiritual matters. Monks and priest were salesmen in the invisible branch and needed to catch the customers in some way. There were no rules as long as they got a true proselyte. Selling ideas is the true non-violence, where you have to get the "treaty" by words.
In my opinion the Celtic world in the tales is more humble and soft than that of Moses. At the time of Snorre Sturlasen the church was established and we know not much about earlier free Christians. Maybe it is a falsification that the Catholic Church Christianised the Scandinavians. The church has always problems with Marc 12:31, since it demands for equality. That state is not reached when they demand for someone's head and tell the heathen to be of less value as heathen.
New science ask if Scandinavians learned about Christianity in the same pace as Rome, since we had trade with Rome and many were legionaries there. Our interaction and trade with West Europe was almost continuous all the time. The main struggle was that Hamburg, Bremen and Canterbury struggled about primacy and to get the tribute from Scandinavia. The Holy Roman Empire was pure business and trials in getting the Scandinavians under the crown of the Holly Empire.
The Greeks called them Hyperboreans = "they live where it is very cold". However we do not know exactly which tribes it was since it was an overall statement about people north of Trace. The Romans learned a new name Cimbri in the same style. People in Himmerland north Jutland believed at once that it was their land. Maybe the sandstorm drew away the people and they ended in Italy. Hard to prove, but some think it good to hear that the ancestors were brave and killed many people. The Romans killed many tribes and became famous ... and that count also for their circus at which you could see tied Libyans be eaten by lions. The world is absurd at times.
Real stable facts about Scandinavians that we have only from the Roman time. They are the stelae with latin inscriptions telling about Mercurius Rex, Mercurius Hanno and Mercurius Leudisio and referring to the traders furnishing the Roman fortifications at Rhine with fish, skin, handicraft and whatever they could produce. The Romans learned to treat at least the traders with respect. Maybe they had learnt that it was dangerous to sail in the Baltic Sea. So why not let the traders do the job.
It is normal human behaviour that foreign names are made more like the own language and in some cases they give nicknames. In our time of migration we see it every day. For us in research it is a bad habit because we may learn by transcription and understanding the morphology of names. About Latin sources we never know if it is a transcription, a Latinised word or a pure Latin word we meet. The original word may tell a story.
Usually I use the word Odin or Odinn in these books in search for the original. In syllables written and with Celtic word order it would then be OD_IN_IN, where OD means the same as in English today and mostly about magnetism forcing through everything. ININ shortened INN is the verb in, but in this case I think it means the Nordic INGE/ING or EUNGE/YNG meaning "to give in" understood as a dative in Ritual Age, when the gods were the ideas of "giving in". It is a question of the development of language, which took time. In the Edda we usually see the worn word Oden and in Danish it is On seen in the genitive Ons-. They say the Danes swallow the words ... that is only because they do not understand the song of the Raven. I speak fluently Danish but have no words in my throat.
We can take another word near the former and show the logic. In some tale Siv's husband is Odd, which should be in syllables OD_OD. Then since two of a kind is a verb it means growth or growing, which is just the case with this pair symbolising fertility.
When Snorre and other northern saga tellers write about Odin it is from their own background. The same is case when transcriptors of our time tell about the Asa-faith. For Snorre the leader in mind was surely The Holy Olaf, which left much blood in his tracks. Mostly these leaders bloody footprint were struggles within the class of wealthy farmers seeking for a place in the hird, i.e. his staff around the table. Olaf had 64 chosen men in that hird. But many thought they were better or had inheritance too. Ordinary people lived on their farms and tried to avoid crossing the way or to be near when the high boots came usually on horses.
Generally I call the hird or feudal nobility the "male league" and we know it from the Hittites and Greece. We have not enough evidence to say how numerous it was. I only state that they were like islands in the growers and cattlemen's land. We see that pattern as late as during Middle Age. Nobility opened the new settlements outside the farming villages. The other fact is that the principle is outspoken in the some province laws. It may go back to the beginning of Iron Age or even longer.
(The early church supported naturally the high boot since they could get offers from the rich men. While the peasants did not want pay for a bath and they did not understand Latin or English. The first priests were usually imported from Canterbury or in Denmark from Hamburg.)
Since we see the leader as symbol during last millennium it is natural to suggest that Odin = as the point of spear = leader was born. Still the Scandinavians were sailors and the leaderships seem to have been vague in the team on board. Equality was the rule on board as far as we know. Usually we are told that he is the symbol of the leader of the flock.
We all want to be leader and have the leader inside. Then it is another question if we want to and can gather a bigger flock than the near family clan is. This is up to the character of the individual ... and sometimes the female take over. All boys from ten to seventy dream about all the insignia belonging to leadership.
The most used symbol has always been the eagle. Jupiter, some Celtic heroes and Odinn had the eagle as favourite. Late interpreters tell us that Odin's birds were the ravens Hugin = mind = will and the other Munin = yarning and his memory is deep in Mimer.
It is a quite natural analysis of the soul every being. We do not need to talk about it, since we all have these aspects to some extend. Some scientist has found that westerners use only one half of the brain. That is the rational one. Then it is natural that we use only one eye and I have noted that too by watching people all my life. This is not a scientific statement but a conclusion builds on feeling. I use only one eye and had to teach my brain to use imagination and pictures.
In this picture I see the first bird as an eagle compared to the eagle in his helmet and other "standardised" pictures at the time. The birds are pictured differently. It would be natural if the mind and will was pictured by an eagle. To the same symbolism belongs the sea-eagle with a fish in the talons. Christianity used it to symbolise grasping souls to the church.
It is also a habit of the male league to preferably be interested in the leadership and its symbol. Maybe it is safer to be an anonymous one in the suite behind a strong leader. Many leaders I met in life said they're are only a messenger. Others are of the lamenting type. It is easy to forget there are many types if we want to make nuances in valuing. I usually use three examples just to keep in mind that we cannot generalise and make only one statement about the humans being all different individuals.
The pictures of Odin are the ends of the line. No scientist has paid attention to the Celtic heritage in Scandinavia. In my book about the age of the Eriles I have only followed the symbolism and a few aspects on the theme. Maybe we can blame Caesar, who wrote down the Celts. It was only natural since they were his greatest enemies. Other puts much mysticism in the question and that is natural too.
I have made a proverb saying "The less we know, the more imagination we use to describe unknown things"
Still, I have tried to make some conclusions from the material we have. One is about the nobility that must have been partly traders to earn their luxury and get the cultural items and raw material. The stelae to Mercurius at Rhine verify the term trader. This league must have been established at least in southern Scandinavia during Bronze Age. Adam Smith, the guru of capitalism said once, "Whenever three traders put their head together we may expect conspiracy". I think every male league are formed they want to keep their secrets.
Then we can ask about the runes. Were they a secret within the Eriles' league? In Rome they know the Eriles but no other tribe in Scandinavia to mention. That means the legionaries and the traders were a closed league. They were thrown out by the Danes, which verify the conclusion that they were "an island" in farmers' society. Lastly we have the finds of torque's and female collars from the age when the Eriles officially disappeared. This is in short the main question about our Celtic heritage for next generation to dig in.
The Eriles are the link between the Celtic traders and leaders we imagine behind finds and pictures during Bronze Age and Roman Age and the other end the Vikings. It is more spectacular to write about fighting and plundering Vikings than remember that many of them were traders on the route from the entire Baltic Sea to the coasts of West Europe. The ages of war are usually very short in history the other time is normal life. We have also to remember the peasants behind the traders. From known time we know that in coastal areas trading and "viking" were common affairs. But how was it in inland?