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We have posted an image of meadowsweet today for two reasons.

First, at a moment when Britain and Ireland are in the iron grip of the cruellest of cold weather it is nice to remind ourselves that soon the year will turn and those balmy, heavy-scented days will once again be ours. In the words of Henry James: “Summer afternoon, summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”

Second, meadowsweet has just been found in a bronze age grave at Forteviot, south of Perth, as described by Mike Pitts in his blog and in British Archaeology. This is by no means the first time meadowsweet pollen has been found in such contexts but it has never been clear whether it was associated with mead. This time there seems no doubt. The sprigs were placed there as powerfully scented flowers, tenderly laid next to the deceased’s head in a touching gesture of farewell.

There is a tendency in discussing prehistory to suggest that the ancient people were radically different from us. This discovery rather suggests the reverse, that their thoughts and emotions and practices with respect to the simple human things that matter, may actually have been just the same as ours.

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