The Battle of Clontarf in 1014: an analysis by a theoretical physicist and mathematician

Lumpy Talbot

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Yes, Kinsale is the name of the place where the main battle took place.

It's a while since I read up on that period/events, but afair some Irish lord (neither Hugh Ruadh Ó Domhnaill nor Hugh Red O'Neill) had wanted the Spanish to land elsewhere from their preferred landing place for his own benefit, and most did - in Cork - which caused that long march from the north. The Spanish in Cork were effectively corralled by the English who were also in a pathetic and unhealthy condition. Irish "logistics" were utterly appalling.

Rather than looking up my records (which are in storage anyway), I'll wait for someone like Mitsui2 to to correct the error of my remembrances if s/he can be bothered.

As for the two Hughs, exile for both of them and an early death for Hugh Ruadh Ó Domhnaill away from his own land. Tragic.
If it is any consolation I was chatting to a descendant of Red Hugh the other day. A nice lad who is just engaged to be married. The senior O'Donnell is I believe in Spain still and I think I'm right in saying he speaks only Spanish.

The family are still very well connected around Europe.
 


Lumpy Talbot

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But going back to the methodology referred to in the OP my feeling is that it would be a historically valid method of analysis as long as it is, like any other method, not used solely and without support and context.

The scientific method in it has been used in all sorts of ways. After the 7/7 bombings in Russell Square the security services in the UK used a form of it to analyse contacts between the mobile phones used by the terrorist cell. They were able to analyse the pattern of contacts, who initiated the calls etc, and were able to pinpoint from the analysis which was the 'phone in use by the cell leader and deputy and which phones were allocated to the ordinary schmoes under orders from the other two.

I like the methodology and I think it could be valuable as a research tool but only if used not in isolation but backed up by other methodologies. I could see it shedding an interesting new shade of light on history.
 

wombat

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Fascinating methodology - never heard of it before.
There is a technique where you can connect people through the association of their contacts, I think it comes out as about 6 iterations, I know its quite close. If you are sitting on an aeroplane with a stranger and could list everyone you know and everyone he knows and list everyone all of your connections know etc an intersection will come around the 6th listing which is not that surprising if you start applying exponentials.
 

runwiththewind

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If it is any consolation I was chatting to a descendant of Red Hugh the other day. A nice lad who is just engaged to be married. The senior O'Donnell is I believe in Spain still and I think I'm right in saying he speaks only Spanish.

The family are still very well connected around Europe.
The styem of Primogeniture didn't exist in Gaelic law. Any son could inherit his father's role/title. Through the primogeniture system, the direct O Neill heir resides in Spain. It's meaningless really. It's prestigious though as Irish family names like the O'Neills have the oldest traceable surnames in Europe.

There's a Tory guy legal eagle who styles himself Sir 'The' Gus O'Donnell. Again one of the oldest surnames and titles in Europe being misused.
 

Lumpy Talbot

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No
The styem of Primogeniture didn't exist in Gaelic law. Any son could inherit his father's role/title. Through the primogeniture system, the direct O Neill heir resides in Spain. It's meaningless really. It's prestigious though as Irish family names like the O'Neills have the oldest traceable surnames in Europe.

There's a Tory guy legal eagle who styles himself Sir 'The' Gus O'Donnell. Again one of the oldest surnames and titles in Europe being misused.
Agreed. Far as I know that particular 'gus o'donnell' would have no right whatsoever to refer to himself as 'The' O'Donnell. The O'Donnell entitled to that prefix resides in Spain.

This 'gus o'donnell' would be no different to a certain strain of social climber adopting airs to which he is not entitled.

Cameron is known to have been chasing ermine for years. His wife is the daughter of a Baronet or some minor Earl I believe and there have been rumours of him snuffling after a title of his own for a long time.
 
D

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When the Vikings invaded Ireland in their long boats and in small groups, Ireland was (typically) riven by enmities between rival factions. Untypically they were united by Brian Boru to fight the foreigners, and in the final battle in 1014 at Clontarf the Irish defeated the Vikings.

The main contemporary account of this battle is called Cogadh Gaedhel re Gallaibh (The War of the Irish with the Foreigners); there are other sources and although some of them are contradictory and have confusing timelines, all of them concluded that Brian Boru was a magnificent hero, the Irish were great and the Vikings were not (boo, hiss).

This conclusion has been questioned by revisionist historians who considered that the Battle of Clontarf was one primarily between the native Irish factions. Fighting the Vikings was only a secondary matter.

Now an analysis led by Ralph Kenna, a theoretical physicist and mathematician at Coventry University (and an Irishman) has concluded that it was likely the the original text sources were correct: the battle was between the Irish - united (for a change) under Brian Boru - and the invading Vikings.

The research team used social network analysis:
—the kind Facebook uses to figure out who your friends are—to analyze the relationships between characters in the Cogadh. Sindbæk says that although this method is used increasingly in anthropology, applying it to characters in ancient texts is quite ingenious. Kenna and colleagues mapped out every interaction among the 315 characters mentioned in the Cogadh, and coded their more than 1100 interactions as either friendly or hostile. They then tallied the hostile interactions into a single scorecard: If the nastiness was Irish-on-Irish, the score went up. If it was Irish-on-Viking, the score went down. The final score was negative. That means it’s quite likely that the war really was a struggle primarily against the Vikings, Kenna’s team reports.

The team admits the analysis relies on the accuracy of the relationships described in the sources, so it may not be perfect:
But even though the text is biased in its character descriptions, [Kenna] doesn’t think its authors would have altered the actual alliances and conflicts. “There’s an art to propaganda,” Kenna says. “You can’t falsify too much or else people won’t accept it.”

I find this a very interesting method to study historical events. Will historians of the future be required to have advanced mathematical and/or computer skills as well as the other skills needed to study history?

What other historical events should be analysed in this manner?

What do p.iesters with more historical knowledge than I have think of this analysis with regard to Irish history generally?

See the original article in Science magazine: The Vikings were enemy No. 1 for Irish hero Brian Boru, social network study says

Historians already deploy a variation of the scientific method, incorporating basic probability theory, to analyse historical data. That's what the study of ancient history is: probabilities. Cryptography has also being used, but I don't think its the stuff you'll see in a text on Linear Algebra? It's highly unlikely advanced math would become a pre-requisite for historical analysis.

I can only imagine the uproar this would have incurred amongst P.ie's anti-catholic snowflake faction had the study been about the historical accuracy of the Gospels*. The Micker defeating baby eating vikings of course kindles a childish patriotic glow in the hearts of the average potato chomper. One victory in 2,000 years is about as good as it gets! :)

*Poster Finbar 10 referred to statistical analysis of the Gospels on another thread. Quite interesting.
 

JCR

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"The research team used social network analysis:
—the kind Facebook uses to figure out who your friends are—to analyze the relationships between characters in the Cogadh. Sindbæk says that although this method is used increasingly in anthropology, applying it to characters in ancient texts is quite ingenious. Kenna and colleagues mapped out every interaction among the 315 characters mentioned in the Cogadh, and coded their more than 1100 interactions as either friendly or hostile. They then tallied the hostile interactions into a single scorecard: If the nastiness was Irish-on-Irish, the score went up. If it was Irish-on-Viking, the score went down. The final score was negative. That means it’s quite likely that the war really was a struggle primarily against the Vikings, Kenna’s team reports."

Isn't the revisionist view based on the fact that contemporary accounts may not be accurate and be tainted by politics and propaganda and this study simply used one of those?

As for me I'd guess seeing as Dublin remained a Viking city I'd say the most logical thing to say about it is that the Vikings were here to stay and simply were becoming involved in Ireland as more than just invaders. Some Vikings factions were pushed out but others remained and life went on?
 

GDPR

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Historians already deploy a variation of the scientific method, incorporating basic probability theory, to analyse historical data. That's what the study of ancient history is: probabilities. Cryptography has also being used, but I don't think its the stuff you'll see in a text on Linear Algebra? It's highly unlikely advanced math would become a pre-requisite for historical analysis.

I can only imagine the uproar this would have incurred amongst P.ie's anti-catholic snowflake faction had the study been about the historical accuracy of the Gospels*. The Micker defeating baby eating vikings of course kindles a childish patriotic glow in the hearts of the average potato chomper. One victory in 2,000 years is about as good as it gets! :)

*Poster Finbar 10 referred to statistical analysis of the Gospels on another thread. Quite interesting.
Probably some historians would find some knowledge of statistical methods helpful in their research.
 
D

Deleted member 45466

"The research team used social network analysis:
—the kind Facebook uses to figure out who your friends are—to analyze the relationships between characters in the Cogadh. Sindbæk says that although this method is used increasingly in anthropology, applying it to characters in ancient texts is quite ingenious. Kenna and colleagues mapped out every interaction among the 315 characters mentioned in the Cogadh, and coded their more than 1100 interactions as either friendly or hostile. They then tallied the hostile interactions into a single scorecard: If the nastiness was Irish-on-Irish, the score went up. If it was Irish-on-Viking, the score went down. The final score was negative. That means it’s quite likely that the war really was a struggle primarily against the Vikings, Kenna’s team reports."

Isn't the revisionist view based on the fact that contemporary accounts may not be accurate and be tainted by politics and propaganda and this study simply used one of those?

As for me I'd guess seeing as Dublin remained a Viking city I'd say the most logical thing to say about it is that the Vikings were here to stay and simply were becoming involved in Ireland as more than just invaders. Some Vikings factions were pushed out but others remained and life went on?
Yeh, they're probably over-egging the historical pudding by throwing "advanced" mathematical techniques in - makes a great headline, and the guy was on the wireless midweek talking about it to a gushing Brian Dobson (probably creamed himself).

Someone might be seeking cash for research.

Interesting story nonetheless.
 
D

Deleted member 45466

Probably some historians would find some knowledge of statistical methods helpful in their research.
Absolutely.

Stats is a very, very powerful mathematical tool. Sadly its use has been abused by various agencies who are more interested in furthering agendas, than truth. Double edged sword I guess.

Advanced maths though - I can't see how non linear DEs could be applied to Joshua Bar Nun's instructions to the Sun. Mind you, Velikovsky came up with an astonishing hypothesis about the source of events as described in ancient texts. But it's been dismissed by mainstream science - in fact initially some scientists tried to suppress it.
 

GDPR

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"The research team used social network analysis:
—the kind Facebook uses to figure out who your friends are—to analyze the relationships between characters in the Cogadh. Sindbæk says that although this method is used increasingly in anthropology, applying it to characters in ancient texts is quite ingenious. Kenna and colleagues mapped out every interaction among the 315 characters mentioned in the Cogadh, and coded their more than 1100 interactions as either friendly or hostile. They then tallied the hostile interactions into a single scorecard: If the nastiness was Irish-on-Irish, the score went up. If it was Irish-on-Viking, the score went down. The final score was negative. That means it’s quite likely that the war really was a struggle primarily against the Vikings, Kenna’s team reports."

Isn't the revisionist view based on the fact that contemporary accounts may not be accurate and be tainted by politics and propaganda and this study simply used one of those?

As for me I'd guess seeing as Dublin remained a Viking city I'd say the most logical thing to say about it is that the Vikings were here to stay and simply were becoming involved in Ireland as more than just invaders. Some Vikings factions were pushed out but others remained and life went on?
I intended to ask Catalpast about that. Was the Battle of Clontarf the Final Solution? The Vikings invaded in small groups to different parts of Ireland afair and I wondered about the likelihood that they would all get together to fight in this one battle.
 

JCR

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I intended to ask Catalpast about that. Was the Battle of Clontarf the Final Solution? The Vikings invaded in small groups to different parts of Ireland afair and I wondered about the likelihood that they would all get together to fight in this one battle.
Interesting choice of words... But I've read stuff about Viking factions looking at the battle from the walls of Dublin, possibly waiting to see who best to align with next. It seems more likely to me that the Vikings simply assimilated. Just on the basis that there are no records at all of the taking of Dublin by any indigenous group around that time and surely there would be.

All we know for sure is that Boru was killed and the Vikings stayed on in their city. That must be significant.
 

Catalpast

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I intended to ask Catalpast about that. Was the Battle of Clontarf the Final Solution? The Vikings invaded in small groups to different parts of Ireland afair and I wondered about the likelihood that they would all get together to fight in this one battle.
Well both sides were pretty well blown out at the end of the campaign

- but the Vikings never recovered their military muscle after this

- not on land anyway

Dubhlinn was still Ireland's most important urban hub and commercially it remained a place of great interest to the Irish Kings

- but they never felt threatened by it after Clontarf.
 

Catalpast

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Yes, Kinsale is the name of the place where the main battle took place.

It's a while since I read up on that period/events, but afair some Irish lord (neither Hugh Ruadh Ó Domhnaill nor Hugh Red O'Neill) had wanted the Spanish to land elsewhere from their preferred landing place for his own benefit, and most did - in Cork - which caused that long march from the north. The Spanish in Cork were effectively corralled by the English who were also in a pathetic and unhealthy condition. Irish "logistics" were utterly appalling.

Rather than looking up my records (which are in storage anyway), I'll wait for someone like Mitsui2 to to correct the error of my remembrances if s/he can be bothered.

As for the two Hughs, exile for both of them and an early death for Hugh Ruadh Ó Domhnaill away from his own land. Tragic.
Their names were not 'Hugh' but Aodh

Hugh is a Norman name

Aodh is Gaelic
 

Ardillaun

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There is a technique where you can connect people through the association of their contacts, I think it comes out as about 6 iterations, I know its quite close. If you are sitting on an aeroplane with a stranger and could list everyone you know and everyone he knows and list everyone all of your connections know etc an intersection will come around the 6th listing which is not that surprising if you start applying exponentials.
Sounds like that Kevin Bacon thing?

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six_Degrees_of_Kevin_Bacon

As a somewhat paranoid individual who has tried to minimize the Facebook footprint, I'm still amazed by the diversity of 'friends' I have on there - and I do know a lot of them, all over the world.
 

jmcc

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runwiththewind

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Agreed. Far as I know that particular 'gus o'donnell' would have no right whatsoever to refer to himself as 'The' O'Donnell. The O'Donnell entitled to that prefix resides in Spain.

This 'gus o'donnell' would be no different to a certain strain of social climber adopting airs to which he is not entitled.

Cameron is known to have been chasing ermine for years. His wife is the daughter of a Baronet or some minor Earl I believe and there have been rumours of him snuffling after a title of his own for a long time.
The O'Neill's of Shane's castle got their name by royal decree through the female line. Self styling himself 'The is a historical distortion and besides the government has abandoned acknowledging claims to head of Irish families because of the McCarthy fiasco.

Isn't Cameron's wife from one of the richest families in England?

Actually the hisyory of old Irish family names would made a great thread.
 


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