Skara Brae ~ What the Hey!

Anyone who has known me at all, knows that I have great affinity for all things weird, ancient and unusual, especially if it has to do with Scotland.


North of Scotland in a very hostile environment for human occupation, the ruins of a so-called ‘Neolithic Village’ dated to between 3600 and 2200 B.C.E. was discovered in the late 19th Century when a storm tore away the grass on some low-lying hummocks near the shoreline. Known to the locals by various names over the years, the site, consisting of 10 individual buildings made of stone and connected by covered alleys and passageways, Skara Brae is believed to have been occupied for approximately 600 years before it was abandoned.

Now I’ve read a lot of historical stuff, but looking at these ‘Flintstone Houses’ that conjure up images of Fred and Wilma Flintstone; and Barney and Betty Rubble, I am struck by the full impact of what went on in this tiny village in the middle of nowhere in such an unforgiving climate. 600 years! People lived in these structures for 600 years! It’s cold up there, though it is supposedly mild for such a northern location.

Wikipedia says: Orkney has a cool temperate climate that is remarkably mild and steady for such a northerly latitude, due to the influence of the Gulf Stream. The average temperature for the year is 8 °C (46 °F); for winter 4 °C (39 °F) and for summer 12 °C (54 °F).

Still, this is cold to most people with modern clothing, electric blankets, shoes and gloves. I simply cannot imagine living there, raising a family there and dying there… for generations. Certainly, Skara Brae speaks well for the tenacity of the human race in general. But I do have a problem with one thing. As with all archaeological finds, the archaeologists have decided that the inhabitants were religious and they probably were. I have no problem with that. I do have a problem with their ideas concerning some artifacts found in the ruins. They say the items shown below are some kind of religious artifacts as usual, though they are not sure what they represent. To me, their purpose is quite obvious. Fancy Meat Tenderizers!

(Except for the bottom one, which may or may not be a Neolithic dental instrument! Ugh.)






G is for Grille

The Encarta English dictionary says a ‘grille’ is crisscrossed bars as in a lattice pattern of bars, especially in front of a window. Now this definition seems appropriate for the use of the word ‘Grille’ in a prison setting, but that is not what I’m going to talk about.

The second definition given by Encarta is the word as used to denote the metal grating that allows cooling air into the radiator of a vehicle’s engine. This definition is more appropriate when applied to today’s Behind Bars A-Z topic since it is more compatible with the prison usage. Inside the Big House, ‘Grille’ refers to a part of the human body and so in in this connotation, if you think of the mouth as the intake for the cooling air entering the lungs, and the lungs in comparison to a vehicle’s radiator, the word ‘grille’ as used Behind Bars (pardon the pun) refers to a specific part of the body.
Whenever someone behind bars is overheard saying something like “Man, why you all up in my grille?” or “She got a fanchee (cause his teeth are gone) grille!” or “Somebody done knocked out his grille!”, they are talking about teeth (or toofuses). Yep, your ‘grille’ is your teeth. This has also come into common use outside the prison setting, having made its way over the fences and walls and into the neighborhoods (or hoods, as the case may be, not to be confused with ‘hoods’ as in gangsters, AKA ‘gangstas’)! Whew!

And this part of the anatomy’s maintenance landed many offenders in the Food Service Department in trouble for stealing of or possession of Baking Soda to scrub their grilles (not to be confused with the cooks, who scrubbed their Grills without the “e” or the gold).  Furthermore, these particular golden grilles were removable and were often often shared and/or borrowed on special occasions such as birthdays (birfdays) and such.

So it’s a given: A good grille is a golden grille that glimmers in the glare, so if your grille is glittery, the more your homeys stare -Prison Poetry (added bonus material).