Category: uk

Did you know that handwritten sheets – called avvisi – circulated among the cities and courts of Europe in early modern Europe after public mail routes became common? They were bought on the streets or by subscription, and had information and news from cities like Warsaw, Paris, and Madrid. They sometimes even had information from further afield such as Ireland or the American colonies. It is hard to understand now, by the once or twice weekly avvisi were a revolution in news, connecting Europeans more than ever before.

One newsletter, dated March 19th, 1588, describes the famous Spanish Armada which sailed against Queen Elizabeth I of England. It was described as having “140 or more sailing ships and eight months of provisions” plus “17,000 combat soldiers and 8,000 sailors.” The same avvisi also discusses the reconstruction of the Rialto Bridge in Venice, and how problems with pilings were fixed on-site rather than being replaced due to the “inconvenience” of closing the Grand Canal.

  • In 3800 BCE, the Babylonian Empire took the world’s first known census – of farmgoods. They counted
    livestock
    and quantities of butter, honey, milk, wool, and vegetables.
  • In 2 CE,
    China’s Han Dynasty took the oldest surviving census data, showing a
    population of 57.7 million people living in 12.4 million households.
    Chengdu, the largest city, had a population of 282,000.

  • The first modern census in Britain in 1801 didn’t ask people to list their ages.
  • The first census in the US in 1790 only cared about age if the person was a “free white male,” which was sorted by “16 years and upward” and “under 16 years.” All other categories were ageless.
  • In 1853,
    Chile passed the first census law in South America.
  • Britain’s attempt to take a census in India in 1871 was difficult because there were rumors that
    the goal of the count is to identify girls to be sent to England to fan
    Queen Victoria during a heatwave.

An astonishing late Bronze Age collection of swords, axes, spearheads and bracelets were found in Havering, in East London, in 2018. With 453 items it is the 3rd-largest hoard ever found in England! And the largest ever found in London. The Havering Hoard was uncovered as part of routine archaeological excavations before the land was opened up for gravel extraction.

The bronze axe heads and spear heads are shown here; they date to between 800 and 900 BCE.

On the Island of South Ronaldsay in the Orkney Islands north of Scotland is a peculiar tomb. The site is a chambered tomb, built into the cliff’s edge around 3,500 BCE, and it wasn’t re-discovered until the 1950s. As you probably guessed from this post’s title, the tomb is the final resting place of 8 to 20 people – and 14 white sea eagles. Recent dating tells us the people were buried in it about 1,000 years before the eagles were.

It’s an amazing example of how a neolithic tomb was in use for many generations, and evolved in its meaning over time. Personally, I think its pretty cool that 1,000 years after their ancestors died, someone added eagles to accompany them.

After bills pass both the House of Commons and the House of Lords in British Parliament, they are required to be given “Royal Assent” by the reigning monarch, at which point they become law of the land and known as an Act of Parliament.

Royal Assent is largely a formality. The last time Royal Assent was not given was in 1707 by Queen Anne. And the last time it was given in person by the monarch was in 1854!

The history of Hong Kong, visualized:

How did a small island become a hub of global finance? And why is it so important to both Britain and China? NatGeo’s illustrated history of Hong Kong leads you through almost two centuries of growth, change, and protests.

Most people think the pizzas they know and love – four cheese, pepperoni – were invented in Italy. But they were actually developed by Italian immigrants in the United
States, and then exported back to Italy. Syracuse University
anthropologist Agehananda Bharati calls this the “pizza effect.” Here are some other examples of when
elements of a nation’s culture  developed elsewhere and were then reimported:

  • Mexico City’s Day of the Dead parade was invented for the James Bond film Spectre and then adopted by the city.
  • American blues music influenced English musicians in the 1960s, who then exported blues-rock to the United States.
  • Adapted from India’s chicken tikka, chicken tikka masala became one
    of the most popular dishes in Britain before being re-exported to India.
  • Yoga became popular in India after its adoption in the West.
  • Salsa music originated largely among Cuban and Puerto Rican
    immigrants to New York in the 1920s and then spread throughout the
    Americas.
  • Teppanyaki, the Japanese style of cooking on an iron griddle, grew to prominence in America in “Japanese steakhouses.”

Bronze strap union (part of a chariot) from Nant-y-cafn in southern Wales (mid 1st century CE). This replica, based on an archaeological find, approximates what it would initially have looked like before it spent nearly 2,000 years in the dirt.

Here’s the crowd at a football (soccer) match in 1920, in England. See how many hatless heads you can count!

It was made up by Donald Watson, who founded the first organization for those seeking a lifestyle free from animal products in 1944 in London. Watson and his friends – correctly – thought that ‘non-dairy vegetarians’ was a bit too long a term. So they agreed to create a new word, something shorter and easier to say.

Many options were considered, including vitans, dairybans, benevores, and allvegans. They eventually decided on “vegan” as it took the beginning and the end of the word “vegetarian.” It may also have been influenced by the fact that a popular London vegetarian restaurant was named “Vega.”