I've found another gruesome story for you...yet another ancestor who found himself without his head...this time it was a Waltheof, The Earl Of Northumbria who was executed on the orders of William 1st in 1076. But the quirky part of his demise is that he took so long saying his prayers while the executioner stood there ready with his axe that in the end he chopped off Waltheof's head before he'd finished saying the Lord's Prayer...the assembled crowd...and the executioner...were astounded when, as the head rolled away, it continued to recite the end of the prayer...

Now I've found Welsh people in my tree....very ancient Welsh people actually...'cos I was back into the three numbers for a while today...but moving forward into four figures and there was a Welsh ancestor who was slain at the battle of Bannockburn in Scotland and the logistics of getting yourself from Flintshire in Wales right up to Scotland with an army amazes me...he was in his sixties if the dates are correct, so the journey itself must have almost finished him off...never mind charging into battle once he arrived.

And they must have had maps...mustn't they...to have known which direction to take. North would be easy enough but I wonder how they found their way to Bannockburn...just answered my own query because now I've thought about it people would have directed them once they'd arrived in Scotland. They must have known trouble was brewing and probably sent out scouts who travelled back and forth between the armies reporting on their moves...

Something else I was wondering is why the mistresses of Kings were called concubines...the word, concubine, conjours up visions of eastern harems guarded by plump eunuchs with plucked eyebrows not the mistress of an Anglo-Saxon king who was often already married to someone else...but the records or Annals speak for themselves...it doesn't seem that the word mistress was used until the days of Henry V111.

And I'd like to know how bodies were kept reasonably fresh after battles to be transported hundreds of miles back to the persons homeplace for burial. Did armies take people skilled in embalming with them...were the remains simply wrapped up tight and slung over the back of a horse and everyone kept their distance from the stench of decaying flesh...but horses aren't biddable when they are around recent death...they have the notion to disobey all commands and simply bolt. So were the bodies kept relatively sweet smelling with herbs perhaps...did an embalmer do his work before the remains were transported back to where they'd come from...

Ordinary soldiers would have been buried in mass graves simply because it was the easiest solution and the faster they were buried the better because of wild animals who'd have eaten the remains. But the kings were usually brought back to be buried in Abbies and Castles and Churches...

This is one of the problems of researching your ancestors...it's all very well finding the Earl of Northumberland who lost his head was your fifteenth second cousin something or other...but was his head buried with him...was he given a proper funeral...he was only thirty years old...no age at all. I know he gave his clothes away before his execution to the poor people...but what happened to him...finding family throws up endless questions...

It's easy enough to find out what a cordwainer did for a living...you quickly learn Grandmothers lied when they said a Grandchild was their baby and it was the child of an unmarried daughter...you learn soon enough that Workhouses records cost a small fortune but the man who sends out the bill is really nice and knows such a lot about the subject and doesn't mind chatting away about what he knows...

But for every question that can be answered, there are so many more which niggle at the back of my mind until I know for certain...