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Some dragons are hard to slay. The persistence of the attribution to Nottingham sculptors of the English medieval religious carvings sculpted in alabaster is both perverse and puzzling, given the clear historical evidence that points to the contrary. Another misconception is that such alabasters are generally rectangular panels of mediocre artistic quality. In this chapter I hope to demonstrate how this distorted view of the subject has come about – nurtured in a stream of publications from around 1890 onwards – and to suggest further areas of historical research into this important artistic material.
The spurious trail of the ‘Nottingham alabaster panel’ was laid by three prolific and – it must be said at once – learned and scholarly writers: Sir William Henry St John Hope (1854–1919), Philip Nelson (1872–1953) and Walter Leo Hildburgh (1876–1955). Hope is the subject of a short and impersonal account in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, but neither Nelson nor Hildburgh achieved that form of immortality. I have, however, drawn on an account of Nelson by Pauline Rushton in Apollo in 2001 and one of Hildburgh by Catherine Oakes in the Journal of the History of Collections in 2006.
Hope was far and away the finest scholar of the three, entirely at ease in searching for, and making transcripts from, medieval archival materials. He was a heraldist of great distinction, whose writings in this field show that he had an independence and originality of mind, and he was an architectural historian of exceptional thoroughness. He was awarded his knighthood for his two-volume architectural history of Windsor Castle. He has been less highly lauded as an archaeologist of the below-ground, trench-digging sort, Mortimer Wheeler once commenting that he dug up sites rather as a farmer might dig up a field of potatoes, just to see what came up.
Hope's first contribution to the making of the alabaster-publications industry was a paper in Archaeologia in 1890, in which he linked up some of the dozens of extant carvings of the Head of St John the Baptist with documentary references to Heads of St John which he had found in late medieval wills and inventories.
For over 120 years, the shell middens of western Scotland and the series of open-air sites on Oronsay have been the focus of debate in European Mesolithic studies. This paper challenges the significance of Oronsay in light of results from the geophysical survey and test-excavation of a new limpet and periwinkle shell midden dated to the late 5th or start of the 4th millennium cal bc at Port Lobh, Colonsay that offers fresh evidence to re-evaluate critically the role of Oronsay and coastal resources in island settlement models ahead of the Mesolithic–Neolithic transition. Test excavations recovered a marine molluscan assemblage dominated by limpet and periwinkle shells together with crab, sea urchin, a fishbone assemblage composed mainly of Gadidae, some identifiable bird and mammal bone, carbonised macroplant remains, and pumice as well as a bipolar lithic assemblage and coarse stone implements. Novel seasonality studies of saithe otolith thin-sections suggest wintertime tidal fishing practices. At least two activity events may be discerned, dating from the late 5th millennium cal bc. The midden could represent a small number of rapidly deposited assemblages or maybe the result of stocastic events within a more extended timeframe. We argue that alternative research questions are needed to advance long-standing debates about seasonal inter-island mobility versus island sedentism that look beyond Oronsay to better understand later Mesolithic occupation patterns and the formation and date of Oronsay middens. We propose alternative methodological strategies to aid identification of contemporaneous sites using geophysical techniques and lithic technological signatures.
Though theory suggests that individual differences in neuroticism (a tendency to experience negative emotions) would be associated with altered functioning of the amygdala (which has been linked with emotionality and emotion dysregulation in childhood, adolescence, and adulthood), results of functional neuroimaging studies have been contradictory and inconclusive. We aimed to clarify the relationship between neuroticism and three hypothesized neural markers derived from functional magnetic resonance imaging during negative emotion face processing: amygdala activation, amygdala habituation, and amygdala-prefrontal connectivity, each of which plays an important role in the experience and regulation of emotions. We used general linear models to examine the relationship between trait neuroticism and the hypothesized neural markers in a large sample of over 500 young adults. Although neuroticism was not significantly associated with magnitude of amygdala activation or amygdala habituation, it was associated with amygdala–ventromedial prefrontal cortex connectivity, which has been implicated in emotion regulation. Results suggest that trait neuroticism may represent a failure in top-down control and regulation of emotional reactions, rather than overactive emotion generation processes, per se. These findings suggest that neuroticism, which has been associated with increased rates of transdiagnostic psychopathology, may represent a failure in the inhibitory neurocircuitry associated with emotion regulation.
Consumers’ demand of leaner meat products is a challenge. Although betaine and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) have the potential to decrease porcine adipose tissue, their mode of action is poorly understood. The aim of the study was to determine the lipolytic effect of betaine and CLA in the adipose tissue of Iberian pigs. Adipose tissue explants from five pigs (38 kg BW) were prepared from dorsal subcutaneous adipose tissue samples and cultivated for 2 h (acute experiments) or 72 h (chronic experiments). Treatments included 100 µM linoleic acid (control), 100 µM trans-10, cis-12 CLA, 100 µM linoleic acid + 1 mM betaine and 100 µM trans-10, cis-12 CLA + 1 mM betaine (CLABET). To examine the ability of betaine or CLA to inhibit insulin’s suppression of isoproterenol-stimulated lipolysis, test medium was amended with 1 µM isoproterenol ±10 nM insulin. Media glycerol was measured at the end of the incubations. Acute lipolysis (2 h) was increased by CLA and CLABET (85% to 121%; P < 0.05) under basal conditions. When lipolysis was stimulated with isoproterenol (1090%), acute exposure to betaine tended to increase (13%; P = 0.071), while CLA and CLABET increased (14% to 18%; P < 0.05) isoproterenol-stimulated lipolysis compared with control. When insulin was added to isoproterenol-stimulated explants, lipolytic rate was decreased by 50% (P < 0.001). However, supplementation of betaine to the insulin + isoproterenol-containing medium tended to increase (P = 0.07), while CLABET increased (45%; P < 0.05) lipolysis, partly counteracting insulin inhibition. When culture was extended for 72 h, CLA decreased lipolysis under basal conditions (18%; P < 0.05) with no effect of betaine and CLABET (P > 0.10). When lipolysis was stimulated by isoproterenol (125% increase in rate compared with basal), CLA and CLABET decreased glycerol release (27%; P < 0.001) compared with control (isoproterenol alone). When insulin was added to isoproterenol-stimulated explants, isoproterenol stimulation of lipolysis was completely blunted and neither betaine nor CLA altered the inhibitory effect of insulin on lipolysis. Isoproterenol, and especially isoproterenol + insulin, stimulated leptin secretion compared with basal conditions (68% and 464%, respectively; P < 0.001), with no effect of CLA or betaine (P > 0.10). CLA decreased leptin release (25%; P < 0.001) when insulin was present in the media, partially inhibiting insulin stimulation of leptin release. In conclusion, betaine and CLA produced a biphasic response regarding lipolysis so that glycerol release was increased in acute conditions, while CLA decreased glycerol release and betaine had no effect in chronic conditions. Furthermore, CLA and CLABET indirectly increased lipolysis by reducing insulin-mediated inhibition of lipolysis during acute conditions.