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Borders Folks May Be Descended From Africans (Hadrian's Wall)
The Telegraph (UK) ^ | 6-11-2004 | David Derbershire

Posted on 06/13/2004 2:15:19 PM PDT by blam

Borders folk may be descended from Africans

By David Derbyshire
(Filed: 11/06/2004)

Families who have lived in the English-Scottish Borders for generations could be descended from African soldiers who patrolled Hadrian's Wall nearly 2,000 years ago.

Archaeologists say there is compelling evidence that a 500-strong unit of Moors manned a fort near Carlisle in the third century AD.

Richard Benjamin, an archaeologist at Liverpool University who has studied the history of black Britons, believes many would have settled and raised families.

"When you talk about Romans in Britain, most people think about blue eyes and pale complexions," he said. "But the reality was very different."

Writing in the journal British Archaeology, Mr Benjamin describes a fourth century inscription discovered in Beaumount, two miles from the remains of the Aballava fort at Burgh by Sands. The inscription refers to the "numerus of Aurelian Moors" - a unit of North Africans, probably named after the emperor Marcus Aurelius.

The unit is also mentioned in the Notitia Dignitatum, a Roman list of officials and dignitaries. It describes the prefect of the "numeri Maurorum Aurelianorum, Aballaba".

The unit was probably mustered in the Roman province of Mauretania, in modern-day Morocco, by the emperor Septimus Severus and arrived in Britain in the second or third centuries AD. Aballava lay at the western end of Hadrian's Wall in Cumbria.

Mr Benjamin suspects that the unit would have been blooded in battles in Germany and the Danube where more inscriptions refer to a unit of Moors. Their number is unknown, but the fort could have held up to 500 men.

"There was freedom of movement for civilians and those in administration of the armed forces. Discharge certificates indicate that the veteran soldiers settled in Britain," he said. "Soldiers would have had plenty of money to spend in native settlements on the outskirts of the forts. They would have sought entertainment in brothels. Many would probably have wanted more permanent relationships."

Mr Benjamin is calling for a major study of black Roman Britons. He believes that DNA tests of locals could reveal genetic links with modern-day north Africans, while skeletons of Romans found in the area might contain telltale clues to their childhood origins.

Buildings in the village may have been built from recycled Roman materials. Some might be of African origin, he said.

The unit is likely to have been composed of Berbers from North Africa, but may also have had darker-skinned soldiers from Nubia.

In 1989, archaeologists discovered a 1,900-year-old wooden sculpture of a black African head in London carved in the first century.

Contemporary records also point to Africans living in Britain during the Roman occupation. The emperor Septimus Severus is reported to have been approached by a black African soldier while he crossed Hadrian's Wall on his return from a battle in Scotland.

In South Shields, a Roman tombstone refers to a 20-year-old "Moor by race, the freed slave of Numerians".


TOPICS: News/Current Events; United Kingdom
KEYWORDS: africans; ancientrome; archaeology; borders; descended; folk; ggg; godsgravesglyphs; helixmakemineadouble; history; moors; romanempire
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1 posted on 06/13/2004 2:15:20 PM PDT by blam
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To: blam

Interesting.


2 posted on 06/13/2004 2:19:02 PM PDT by RobbyS
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To: farmfriend

GGG Ping.


3 posted on 06/13/2004 2:19:07 PM PDT by blam
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To: blam
DNA & Genealogy:

Ozford Ancestors

Family Tree DNA

Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Project

4 posted on 06/13/2004 2:29:49 PM PDT by martin_fierro
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To: blam
black Britons

Moors are/were not black.
5 posted on 06/13/2004 2:34:41 PM PDT by Cronos (W2K4!)
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To: blam

Oswald Mosley, please call the office!


6 posted on 06/13/2004 2:37:17 PM PDT by Grut
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To: blam

Does this mean that Brits and Scots are going to come to the US and demand reparations?


7 posted on 06/13/2004 2:43:41 PM PDT by fr_freak
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To: fr_freak
Does this mean that Brits and Scots are going to come go to the US Italy and demand reparations?

Why not?

8 posted on 06/13/2004 2:46:31 PM PDT by Harmless Teddy Bear (Latine loqui coactus sum)
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To: blam

hence THE BLACK WATCH? haha


9 posted on 06/13/2004 2:48:03 PM PDT by CAPTAIN PHOTON
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To: blam

Everyone want s to claim that they are related to the Scots the reality is that by the time the Moors were running around Scotland had already had a long and wonderful history and it continues today...Let them keep trying to define us...they never will


10 posted on 06/13/2004 2:49:27 PM PDT by jnarcus
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To: blam
Shades of the "Black Irish"
11 posted on 06/13/2004 2:49:34 PM PDT by BenLurkin
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To: blam
This is an interesting coincidence.

I happened to be in England recently. Three days ago, I stopped in a pub north of Newcastle (in the vicinity of Hadrian's wall, but on the opposite side of the country from Carlisle.)

The publican was evidently an archaeology enthusiast, because the walls had many interesting maps and illustrations of life in Roman Britain.

One document stated unequivocally that the residents of the area were descended from the Roman legions, and gave examples of local names that might have Roman, Greek, or even Arab origins.

Hardly a word of Latin entered the English language in those days; modern English words of Latin origin mostly came in during the Middle Ages and Renaissance. But it seems clear that the Roman (and perhaps African) blood still flows in the vicinity of Hadrian's Wall.

-ccm

12 posted on 06/13/2004 2:58:44 PM PDT by ccmay
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To: blam
Borders Folks May Be Descended From Africans

Okay, so now that I know where Borders Folks come from, what about Barnes and Noble?

13 posted on 06/13/2004 3:18:54 PM PDT by TruthShallSetYouFree
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To: TruthShallSetYouFree
Okay, so now that I know where Borders Folks come from, what about Barnes and Noble?

They are an offshoot of the B. Dalton tribe.

14 posted on 06/13/2004 3:35:07 PM PDT by GreenHornet
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To: GreenHornet
They are an offshoot of the B. Dalton tribe.

LOL! Well played.

Years ago, I worked as a tech for a computer chain store that is no longer with us. Our competition, down the road, was CompUSA. They were located in a shopping center called "The Willows".
When asked by a staffer where a particular item could be found around town that we didn't have, I folded my arms and in my best Hollywood Indian accent replied, "Umm. Must go see Compoosa, hostile tribe that lives among Willows".

15 posted on 06/13/2004 4:30:25 PM PDT by Riley (Need an experienced computer tech in the DC Metro area? I'm looking. Freepmail for details.)
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To: blam

I thought they were talking about the folks who work in the bookstore.


16 posted on 06/13/2004 4:31:33 PM PDT by freedumb2003 (I want to die in my sleep like Gramps -- not yelling and screaming like those in his car)
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To: blam
"When you talk about Romans in Britain, most people think about blue eyes and pale complexions,"

Why would anyone think Romans had "blue eyes and pale complexions"?


17 posted on 06/13/2004 4:35:40 PM PDT by Straight Vermonter (06/07/04 - 1000 days since 09/11/01)
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To: blam

Silly racial story. The tribes in Mauretania in the 3rd Century were not black, nor were they Berbers. As far as we can tell at this late date, they were generic Mediterranean peoples, with large dashes of Lebanese, Egyptian, Greek and Roman.

A freed Nubian slave or three was possible, though.


18 posted on 06/13/2004 4:44:21 PM PDT by jimtorr
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To: blam; FairOpinion; Ernest_at_the_Beach; StayAt HomeMother; 24Karet; 3AngelaD; asp1; ...
Thanks Blam. This got added, but never got pinged, probably when FF stopped coming to FR. Sorry all, this is a Blast from the Past.

To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list. Thanks.
Please FREEPMAIL me if you want on or off the
"Gods, Graves, Glyphs" PING list or GGG weekly digest
-- Archaeology/Anthropology/Ancient Cultures/Artifacts/Antiquities, etc.
Gods, Graves, Glyphs (alpha order)

19 posted on 01/24/2006 11:34:32 PM PST by SunkenCiv (In the long run, there is only the short run.)
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To: blam

Guess it is worth checking.


20 posted on 01/24/2006 11:42:54 PM PST by Dustbunny (Can we build it - Yes we can - Bob the Builder - Can we win it - Yes we can - Geo. W. Bush)
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To: Cronos
Moors are/were not black

From Wikipedia:

Othello's race

Although the play is very much concerned with racial difference, the protagonist's specific race is not clearly indicated by Shakespeare. Othello is referred to as a "Moor"; for Elizabethan Englishmen, this term could refer to the Arabs of North Africa, or to the people we would now call "black" (that is, people of sub-Saharan African descent). In his other plays, Shakespeare had previously depicted an Arabic Moor (in The Merchant of Venice) and a black Moor (in Titus Andronicus). In Othello, however, the references to the character's physical features do not settle the question of which race Shakespeare envisaged (Othello's line "Haply for I am black" does not help, since 'black' could simply mean 'swarthy' for Elizabethans). Popular consensus among average readers and theatre directors today leans towards the "black" interpretation, and Arabic Othellos have been rare.

21 posted on 01/24/2006 11:50:14 PM PST by wideminded
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To: wideminded
Popular consensus among average readers and theatre directors today leans towards the "black" interpretation

Presently "black" in reference to skin color in Britain refers not only just to Africans but mostly to light-skinned Indians and Pakistanis.

22 posted on 01/25/2006 12:05:14 AM PST by FreedomCalls (It's the "Statue of Liberty," not the "Statue of Security.")
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To: wideminded

quite a resurrection of a 2 year old post!


23 posted on 01/25/2006 12:52:47 AM PST by Cronos (Never forget 9/11. Restore Hagia Sophia!)
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To: FreedomCalls
Presently "black" in reference to skin color in Britain refers not only just to Africans but mostly to light-skinned Indians and Pakistanis.

Not really -- Indians and Pakis are called "Asians".
24 posted on 01/25/2006 12:53:30 AM PST by Cronos (Never forget 9/11. Restore Hagia Sophia!)
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To: jnarcus

Whatever various were there, they certainly had to be localized, concentrated, because, I, too, am of Scot descendance and I'm about as white as you can ever find anywhere, without locating an albino. And my Scot grandfather had exactly the same complexion and coloring, which is quite normal from the area of Scotland from where he originated, as did his ancestors for many centuries prior to his birth.


25 posted on 01/25/2006 12:54:37 AM PST by MillerCreek
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To: Cronos

Yes, and some people even in the U.S. refer to Italians as "blacks." Many Italians prior to large numbers of Spanish moving in, were brunette and pale and some even blond. Some Italians still are! South Italy is mostly all dark skinned and dark haired, however, particularly Sicily.

A tangent...


26 posted on 01/25/2006 12:56:39 AM PST by MillerCreek
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To: MillerCreek
Yes, and some people even in the U.S. refer to Italians as "blacks." Many Italians prior to large numbers of Spanish moving in, were brunette and pale and some even blond. Some Italians still are! South Italy is mostly all dark skinned and dark haired, however, particularly Sicily.

Well, that would be because in the southern tip of Italy and in Sicily, the population is mostly of Phoenician or Greek origin with influxes from Berbers. Sicily was first colonised by Phoenicians and then became a mostly Carthaginian colony with some Greeks, then the GReeks took over -- the Greeks also had colonies in Neapoli etc. (that's why the Southern Italians and Sicilians are similar in culture to Greeks -- strongly passionate people).

in the middle you have Italic peoples while Rome was on the border between the Italics and the Etruscans. The north of Italy was actually occupied by Celtic Gauls -- called Cisalpine Gaul (the southern part of France was transalpine Gaul). Hence they WERE red-heads or blondes. Then you had the Germanic conquests of northern Italy, so no wonder you'd find that people around Trentino are more Germanic than the sicilians.
27 posted on 01/25/2006 1:10:51 AM PST by Cronos (Never forget 9/11. Restore Hagia Sophia!)
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To: wideminded
Let me add another to the plethora of comments on your post..

An Arabic Moor would never refer to himself as black..
It is (and was far before the time of Shakespeare) a clear distinction..
Arabs were conducting slave raids into sub-saharan africa for thousands of years..
Only a black Moor would refer to himself as such..

Additionally, there is the clue, "Haply I am black"..
While black may mean swarthy in Elizabethan english, the term "haply" constitutes chance or fortune (destiny? Circumstance? Coincidence?)
As an arab among meditteraneans in Venice, he would probably not have stood out enough to cause comment, whereas a black general would have..

28 posted on 01/25/2006 1:36:24 AM PST by Drammach (In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king..)
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To: Cronos

However, early Greece was also greatly far more fair than they became later, same as Italy...even to general view, the very sculptures from early Greece shows Grecians with appearances far more similar to Northern Europeans than to the Middle East, etc. Same with, for example, Ramses I in Egypt: very tall, prominent European features, red hair.

I read earlier on FR somewhere written that someone said they would not be surprised that when the First Emporer of China's tomb was eventually explored, they would not be surprised if a tall, red haired man was found there.

Most of the Mediterranean seems to have been originally populated by what we'd call today "Europeans" -- tall, flat and high foreheads, long noses, many blond and red haired individuals. They seem to have been largely supplanted over time by shorter, darker persons and the mix has resulted in what and who we see in the Mediterranean today.


29 posted on 01/25/2006 1:36:39 AM PST by MillerCreek
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To: Cronos
quite a resurrection of a 2 year old post!

If I posted the same thing two years ago my Alzheimer's must be worse than I thought. But I don't think this is possible as I was just quoting wikipedia and I'm not sure they even existed two years ago. Othello came to mind as a famous (if fictional) Moor, who is always played by or as a black man.

30 posted on 01/25/2006 1:39:12 AM PST by wideminded
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To: blam

Most, if not all, of such a unit would have been berbers who are relatively light skinned and who have an eye color range that goes from brown to blue and even green. They are not Arabs and they are not southern African blacks.


31 posted on 01/25/2006 3:28:09 AM PST by ThanhPhero (di hanh huong den La Vang)
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To: Cronos

But they were darker than the average Briton, leading to the term "black." You'll find similar references to darker-skinned folks throughout northern Europe.


32 posted on 01/25/2006 3:37:25 AM PST by Junior (Identical fecal matter, alternate diurnal period)
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To: Cronos
I always thought that they were. Isn't Othello always portrayed as a black, and in modern times by a black? Have you got a link? Thanks.
33 posted on 01/25/2006 6:06:23 AM PST by chesley (Liberals...what's not to loathe?)
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To: ThanhPhero
"They are not Arabs and they are not southern African blacks."

Correct. They are not Bantu.

34 posted on 01/25/2006 7:45:53 AM PST by blam
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To: blam

Everyone knows how wild and clannish the Scots of the 1st century were--and still are some say. The reason the two Roman walls were built across the Island was because the Romans decided it was safer/easier to wall them out than to try and conquer them.

That being said, how likely was it that occupying Roman soldiers would have been allowed to take land and live in peace once the Roman armies dissolved/withdrew? There was never any peace among the clans, so why would they tolerate outside interlopers?

And I don't see any outsider and former foe being inducted into a clan, even if he'd gotten a maiden with child. More likely, he'd have been killed.


35 posted on 01/25/2006 8:03:33 AM PST by wildbill
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To: wildbill
And I don't see any outsider and former foe being inducted into a clan, even if he'd gotten a maiden with child. More likely, he'd have been killed. I think you are correct, unlike North American Indians who would sometimes adopt an outsider into the tribe the clans were more likely to kill or sacrifice the interloper.
36 posted on 01/25/2006 8:33:14 AM PST by ABN 505
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To: blam

"He believes that DNA tests of locals could reveal genetic links with modern-day north Africans, while skeletons of Romans found in the area might contain telltale clues to their childhood origins. "

This is probably true with any unit which can be identified as to place and origin in the roman area...


37 posted on 01/25/2006 8:56:15 AM PST by WoofDog123
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To: ccmay

"Hardly a word of Latin entered the English language in those days; modern English words of Latin origin mostly came in during the Middle Ages and Renaissance. But it seems clear that the Roman (and perhaps African) blood still flows in the vicinity of Hadrian's Wall. "

There is a big reason for this - the langauge spoken in britain during the roman period, p-celtic (modern welsh bretonish cornish) was eradicated from most of modern england during the germanic invasinn/colonization taht began in the 4th cetnruy progressively scrubbed the celt language (though not dna), including place-names, from almost everywhere but wales, cornwales, and cumbria.

There are some words in welsh that are very similar to the latin word, 'pont' = bridge, so there are probably some loanwords there, as well as indo-european words of similar origina (was aur (gold in welsh and roman, Ore in modern english) a loanword or did the indo-european root survive into p-celtic?

Thre precursion of old english was spoken by pretty much no one in roman britain except the german soldiers in the army. Old english as a spoken language in daily life in britain doesn't appear until the romans were gone.

Modern names derived from roman soldiers names is unlikely, the saxon's brough their own names to most of england.


38 posted on 01/25/2006 9:03:43 AM PST by WoofDog123
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To: ABN 505

The idea that enough of the 500 or so members of a Roman unit would have (a)survived and (b)remained in the area to put down genealogical roots having an identifiable DNA today is interesting but somewhat farfetched.

Especially since the mother's DNA is the primary way of identifying lineal descendants.


39 posted on 01/25/2006 9:03:56 AM PST by wildbill
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To: wildbill

well you have to remember there was military presence for centuries, and soldiers dropping their DNA in the brothel and wife pot, retiring, etc, all during this time, so even if when legions retreated suriving retirees went south (who knows, possibly not), the DNA impact over generations of mixing would remain.


40 posted on 01/25/2006 9:07:13 AM PST by WoofDog123
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To: WoofDog123

this is full of typos, sorry. spelling-cops please just give me a warning.


41 posted on 01/25/2006 9:09:32 AM PST by WoofDog123
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To: WoofDog123

I didn't say it was impossible that a strain or two of the DNA might not have survived.

But even today family branches die out all the time from natural causes.

Considering the uncertain nature of mortality at the time, where whole populations died out in the 1st-3rd Centuries from disease, infant mortality, warfare and violence, the likelihood of uncovering a single line of DNA from only 500 subjects that lasted over a 1,500 year period seems rather remote.


42 posted on 01/25/2006 9:40:38 AM PST by wildbill
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To: wildbill

yeah i would assume some genes are still mixed in but the y-chros. are likely long absorbed. Unless they were importing women to border forts, no foreign matrilinear dna at all. as you say, 80+ generations with multiple plagues and migrations (q-celts in some areas, saxon, viking, saxon again, then the 'harrying of the north' (did this extend to the wall?) it is amazing any celtic genes survive at all in that area

I wonder if there has been a study of people in the interior of wales (or cornwall) to see if any dna markers are similar to known italic dna, since they would have absorbed people from roman towns and cities, with civilian population including some romans.


43 posted on 01/25/2006 10:24:51 AM PST by WoofDog123
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To: blam
This is interesting, but I always have a problem with how assumptions are extracted from few facts. For instance:

Facts:
1)Inscriptions refer to the "numerus of Aurelian Moors"
2) The fort could have held up to 500 men
3) archaeologists discovered a 1,900-year-old wooden sculpture of a black African head in London carved in the first century

Conclusion: "Compelling evidence that a 500-strong unit of Moors manned a fort"

This isn't compelling at all. It could just as well have been 20 Moors in a 500 man unit. And the artifact could just as well have been a war trophy carried to Britain by an Italian soldier.

None of this stops the speculation from being reported as fact.

44 posted on 01/25/2006 10:28:15 AM PST by Dr._Joseph_Warren
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To: Cronos
Moors are/were not black.

If by "not black" you mean they didn't have curly hair, thick lips and flat noses, probably right.

But the skin of Northern Africans can be extremely dark. There is quite a variation in skin color in North Africa. They sure aren't Caucasians.

45 posted on 01/25/2006 10:56:13 AM PST by CobaltBlue (Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.)
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To: wildbill
Everyone knows how wild and clannish the Scots of the 1st century were--and still are some say.

Well, forts full of handsome young soldiers with money to spend do seem to have a way of acquiring "camp followers," that is to say, women of easy virtue. ;^)

'Tis the way of the world . . . .

46 posted on 01/25/2006 11:00:48 AM PST by CobaltBlue (Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.)
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To: blam
"Archaeologists say there is compelling evidence that a 500-strong unit of Moors manned a fort near Carlisle in the third century AD."

That would be a 500-strong unit of Moops according to George Costanza.
47 posted on 01/25/2006 11:03:37 AM PST by A knight without armor
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To: CobaltBlue

Dinna "dis" our fair Scots lassies or you'll hear the bagpipes comin' for ye through the brae.


48 posted on 01/25/2006 12:15:57 PM PST by wildbill
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To: wildbill

My husband is a piper so pipes don't scare me.

And your fair Scots lassies were pagans back then.


49 posted on 01/25/2006 12:41:33 PM PST by CobaltBlue (Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.)
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To: wildbill

They still are. I know, my wife is Scots.


50 posted on 01/25/2006 12:49:18 PM PST by rahbert
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