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The Stations of the SunA History of the Ritual Year in Britain$
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Ronald Hutton

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9780198205708

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198205708.001.0001

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Blood Month and Virgin Queen

Blood Month and Virgin Queen

(p.386) 38 Blood Month and Virgin Queen
The Stations of the Sun

Ronald Hutton

Oxford University Press

In Ireland until the nineteenth century, the feast of Martinmas remained tinged with the ritual connotations mentioned by Bede, for in most of the west of the island, and some places in the east, it was considered lucky to kill an animal upon this day and to sprinkle its blood on the threshold of the home. A cock was the most convenient victim, but a sick sheep or goat was often chosen instead. Nothing like this seems to be recorded in Britain, where the annual immolation was kept up for purely practical reasons and pleasures until the development of root crops enabled farmers to feed whole herds and flocks through the winters. This chapter discusses Queen Elizabeth and her favourite courtier at that time, the earl of Essex, armoured in black, and the decorations of the tiltyard included a pavilion representing the Temple of the Vestal Virgins, a compliment to the Virgin Queen.

Keywords:   Ireland, feast, Martinmas, Bede, animal, blood, Britain, immolation, Queen Elizabeth, Virgin Queen

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